Schedule filling up for Gary Lockett’s stable: Jay Harris, Alex Hughes, Zack Davies

Schedule filling up for Gary Lockett’s stable: Jay Harris, Alex Hughes, Zack Davies

The 2017 schedule is filling up for Gary Lockett’s stable of fighters.

The world title challenger turned trainer and manager handles boxers at a range of weights and levels of development from his gym based in Cardiff Bay.

Clydach Vale’s Liam ‘The Machine’ Williams (16-0-1, 11KO) is currently leading the pack and the British super-welterweight champion is on the verge of major opportunities.

Hall of Fame entrant Frank Warren is expected to hold a press conference within the next week to announce the shows he will stage with new broadcast partner, BT Sport. As one of the leading lights in the promotional stable, William will form part of those plans.

Swansea’s fearsome Jay Harris (9-0, 6KO) will look to build on his storming form of six straight stoppages when he challenges for his first title against Thomas Essomba (7-2, 2KO), who defends his Commonwealth flyweight crown.

After gaining momentum under the radar, the 26-year-old Welshman is aiming for a breakthrough performance when he headlines East London’s iconic York Hall venue on the Frank Warren promoted show, which will be televised by BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437) on Friday 24 February.

Lockett said: “It’s a tough fight but we haven’t really got many options at flyweight. At the end of the day, he’s done everything asked of him and Essomba is not active himself. It’s a fight with Jay’s power and the way he’s coming on, we’d be confident against most people. I know he’s inexperienced but if you look at Essomba he’s only had as many fights as Jay has had.”

Harris, the son of 1988 British and Welsh Area ruler Peter Harris, had previously operated below the super-flyweight limit and he will drop an extra pound to a new division, competing at the eight-stone limit for the first time.

Essomba lost his professional debut in 2009 but still represented Cameroon as an amateur at the 2012 Olympic Games. Since then, the 29-year-old knocked out the fancied Waleed Din and has only suffered one defeat, which came in his last outing at the hands of Scotland’s Iain Butcher, who failed to make weight.

Lockett said: “It’s a bit of a risk but stepping up in class is always a risk until you know how the fighter is going to cope with championship level.

“In the beginning it was very hard [to match Harris] but then Andy Ayling [Frank Warren’s Event Manager] did a deal with us and stuck to his word. He kept Jay relatively busy and we have the opportunity now. It’s all in his hands and I’m confident he’ll do it.”

Maerdy’s multi-talented Alex ‘Bad News’ Hughes (9-0, 3KO) is another member of the stable on the verge of championship fights.

The super-middleweight has just turned 23-years-old and will have one more routine outing before stepping up to very competitive fights. The details of both appearances will be confirmed soon.

Lockett said: “I’ve told him that [the plan] and he seems to have really cranked up his training all of a sudden. I wouldn’t call him lazy but I’d call him laid back. He’s the unofficial joker in the camp, he’s always messing around but since Christmas and his last fight, he’s knuckled down really well and he’s a work in progress.”

Hughes regularly spars world title challenger George Groves and he’s well thought of in a number of gyms across the country. After a handful flat of performances, he bounced back with a skillful shutout of Harry Matthews in November and Lockett is pleased with his progress.

He said: “Alex has won a load of fights on points but it’s all confidence for him – confidence that he can do the rounds and has the experience with different opponents, I’m never disappointed with that. We’re looking to step him up and we’re looking at an ambitious opponent, who he can test his skills against. I think as soon as he steps up in levels, you’ll see a lot better Alex Hughes.”

A week before Harris headlines at York Hall, Pontyberem’s Zack Davies (6-1, 1KO) will continue his development at the same location as part of the undercard for Mo Prior’s show on Saturday 18 February.

The identity of Davies’ next lightweight opponent hasn’t been determined yet but his main focus is to remain active. It follows just a pair of fights in the last 12 months and managerial responsibilities have been switched from Lockett to the aforementioned Prior. The pair get on well though and will stage a show together in Swansea in April.

Lockett, who will retain his duties as a trainer, said: “Zack hasn’t had a lot of luck. He didn’t get anymore dates [from Frank Warren], so we’ve had to look elsewhere. Zack’s a very important part of our camp, as long as he keeps busy then he can make some waves.”

After slipping to the first defeat of his career in March – a narrow decision loss to crafty Hungarian Zoltan Szabo – Davies has dedicated himself to the sport, giving up full time work to allow for more time in the gym.

Lockett said: “He didn’t lose that fight but they had it to Szabo by a point – I spoke to four or five people who said the same. It was close but we expected the referee to say Zack won it. He had the guy hanging on in the last round even though he was ill. I think the wise decision would’ve been to pull out but young pros think they can go through things like this.

“Szabo is a good fighter. He gave Ohara Davies a good fight before losing on a cut and he stopped Stephen Ormond, which is a good scalp. I think that’s definitely a fight that we’d be looking at down the line but obviously Zack has to keep winning.”

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