Rugby league star Phil Joseph will swap boots for gloves on December 14 when he makes his professional debut at Bolton’s Macron Stadium.
The Widnes Vikings prop, who has also represented Wales with the oval ball, has been training under former Amir Khan coach Oliver Harrison and intends to double up as a pro fighter during the rugby league off-season.
“Boxing has long been a passion of mine,” explained the 29-year-old. “It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do and I want to challenge myself. I’ve always trained and boxing has been a way for me to lose weight in the pre-season. So, I thought ‘I wouldn’t mind having a good crack at it’.”
Joseph’s story will inevitably draw comparisons with Curtis Woodhouse – the former Sheffield United star who gave up a lucrative career to punch for pay and became the first pro footballer to win a British title.
Heavyweight Phil, whose boxing heroes include Roberto Duran and Mike Tyson, knows he is in good hands with Harrison – who also trains world middleweight contender Martin Murray – and doesn’t want to leave the sport without a belt around his waist.
“It’s one of the things Oliver and I had a discussion about; he took me to one side and said I could potentially do very well. He asked me what I’d like to get out of it and my answer was ‘I want to win things and be the best I can possibly be’. Curtis has been mentioned before and, finding out about his achievements, I’d love to emulate him by winning something.”
“Boxing has always been full of great characters,” said co-promoter Asif Vali, “and Phil is going to be a real star. He’s a big man already involved in a very tough, physical sport. Oliver rates him and believes in his potential. It’s early days but we could have a champion on our hands and are asking all the Widnes fans to come and support him on his journey.”
The show will feature other northwest talent including Bolton’s Chris Jenkinson; Preston’s Matty Clarkson; Warrington’s Nathan Wheatley; Salford’s Marc Leach, and Stockport’s Chris Healey. Also appearing will be Cumbria’sLiam Conroy and Birmingham’s Nasser Al Harbi.
Tickets priced at £30 unreserved and £80 with a three course meal are available by calling 07599970213.