TONY Jeffries has chosen the coaching team to lead him into his professional boxing debut.
The Olympic light-heavyweight bronze medallist from Sunderland’s first contest in the paid ranks is expected to be in late February. He will have experienced trainer Joe Gallagher in his corner, with Ricky Hatton’s fitness guru Kerry Kayes playing an important part in his preparations.
Jeffries spent last week working with Kayes and three experienced trainers to help him decide which one he wanted to work with ahead of his first fight since Beijing. The 23-year-old had sessions with Oliver Harrison, Amir Kahn’s former coach, and Richard Poxon, who has trained his new stablemate Clinton Woods.
But he has opted for Gallagher, based in Manchester. Jeffries was torn over who to select, so rather than commit himself to one man for a lengthy period, Gallagher has been appointed to oversee the one fight, probably at Rainton Meadows Arena in Houghton-le-Spring against an opponent still to be selected.
“It’s important I get a coach who’s dealt with amateurs and professionals and knows the difference between the two,” Jeffries said on his blog at www.journallive.co.uk
Gallagher trains Joe Murray, one of Jeffries’ team-mates at the Beijing Olympics, but also his brother, John, a professional in the lightweight division.
Kayes’ involvement is also significant. Jeffries has not been in the ring since losing to Ireland’s Kenny Egan in the Olympic semi-finals. Until recently he has been enjoying his new-found fame with a host of celebrity appearances and dinner engagements.
As a result, he began building for the tougher professional game nearly two stone above his fighting weight. Jeffries has already begun shedding the excess baggage, but Kayes will assist in the process, one he is well used to.
The former British bodybuilding champion was Hatton’s strength and nutrition coach until quitting the Mancunian’s camp when “The Hitman” recently split with coach Billy Graham.
Kayes has also worked for Manchester City Football Club and as a consultant to UFC mixed martial arts fighters.