Dave Coldwell has undoubtedly been one of Britain’s star coaches in 2015. He has guided Jamie McDonnell to not one but two defences of his WBA Bantamweight title against the formidable Tomoki Kameda. This is impressive on it’s own even without considering the fact that both of these defences were over in America, where Kameda has spent most of his recent career.
Along with Jamie McDonnell, Coldwell has also guided both Tony Bellew and Gavin McDonnell to European success against some very tough opponents. Bellew recently outpointed the very game Mateusz Masternak over twelve rounds, whilst Gavin McDonnell beat the previously unbeaten Oleksandr Yegorov and then Jeremy Perodi, both over twelve rounds.
The decorated trainer took some time out over the holidays to speak to me about his career, promoting and the fighters he works with, day-in, day-out.
How did you first get into boxing promoting, management and training?
Towards the back end of my career I was running Brendan Ingle’s second gym so I was training kids from a young age. I had quite a few good kids so it was a natural progression for me to go into the training side of things. As for the managing and promoting, I had no intention of doing that until I got annoyed about the promoter of a fighter that I was training. I was training a very good light-heavyweight who I had been with in the amateurs through to the pros, and when he turned pro he got told that if he stayed with me he wouldn’t be going anywhere. I was very close with him and I told him he had to leave me at the time because I didn’t want to hold his career up. We’ve stayed really good friends since but at the time I was just starting up and I didn’t have much clout, but I decided that I would never let it happen to me again and I was going to become a manager and promoter so I could build up my prospects how I wanted to.
What has been the highlight of you managerial career in boxing?
That’s a difficult one. I’ve had quite a lot of big nights really. From taking Curtis Woodhouse from a bit of a novelty act and a bit of a joke to becoming British champion has got to be right up there. Then again, when Ryan Rhodes came to me people thought he was retired, people thought he had gone and nobody expected him to do anything. As a manager, I took Ryan all the way to winning the European title in a big domestic showdown against Jamie Moore. And then obviously, Jamie McDonnell in his last fight where everyone thought I was daft for taking a rematch with Kameda and going back over to America for it, it proved that we were right. Those three, probably in that order, are the highlights. It’s difficult though because I have had other great nights and as a manager it’s been a good ride so far.
Have you got any fighters that you think we should look out for in the future?
Yes Jordan Cooke, very good kid. He’s a very good lightweight from Coventry who’s a superb talent. He is learning the game, getting better each fight and I rate the kid. I’ve got quite a few other good kids coming through as well, Tom Doran as well he’s a very good fighter. He’s had a very good year this year getting himself well established with a big win over Rod Smith after winning Prizefighter last year. We’re looking at pushing him on next as well.
Yes he will definitely move up to Super-Bantamweight very soon. This might be his last fight or we might have one more, but he will be a better fighter at Super-Bantam 100%. The extra four pounds will do him the world of good.
How do you think Jamie McDonnell would compete if he moved up to fight Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton?
They would both be very very good fights. Its funny because stylistically for Jamie I think he would have an easier night against Frampton. That’s no reflection about how I think the Quigg-Frampton fight will go, but I just think Jamie would beat Carl easier than he would beat Scott. Then again the Quigg fight would be easier to make because he’s with Eddie Hearn. To be honest we aren’t bothered because we will fight either of them. The Quigg-Frampton fight is one of those where I change my mind all the time. I’ve always thought Frampton beats Quigg but as it’s getting nearer I don’t know! I think if Quigg puts it on him and gets on top of him then I think Quigg can beat him. It’s one of those where it is a genuine 50/50, and if they fought ten times you would get a mixed bag of results.
Tony Bellew recorded a good win last time out over Masternak, who do you think he is likely to face next?
He’s European champion now and he’s highly ranked in all of the boxing organisations. We want a world title fight but then there’s another name that we are talking about so we will see. Whatever is put in front of us we will know what to do. We want the big fights. I wanted him to have a real test before we moved up to world level at cruiserweight and he has had that. A lot of people thought he would get beaten by Masternak who is a big puncher, and he ground out a very good, hard earned win.
How much do you think he has improved over the past year?
I think he is moving on well. Intellectually in the ring he is boxing a lot better. He’s not just going in there swinging and looking for the big shot, he’s learning and getting better every camp. In his last fight he showed a very good double jab which he has never shown before, but that was something we were working on in the gym. Over the last two years he has started to throw very good body shots as well. You’ve got to give credit to his defence as well. For a big man, his defence is very good. When he tries to land massive shots he gets tagged, but when he is thinking about what he is doing he’s very quick and his defence is very good.
With the improvements he showed in his last fight, you’ve got to say he has great potential. He’s a work horse in the gym, he isn’t one of those people who naturally has all of the skills in the world, but he has the desire to learn. He has a very similar attitude to that of Curtis Woodhouse, when I was with Curtis. Not the most talented guy in the gym, but he can compete with anybody because of his hard work, determination and discipline which is why he has been improving at such a quick rate. He has established himself as the European champion and now we’re looking at that fringe world class level and we’ll take it on from there. If you look at the Super-Bantamweight world champions, Julio Ceja is certainly a fight I would take for Gavin. I’ve spoken to his manager Stefy Bull and we would 100% take that fight for Gavin. Ceja can punch, but he can be out-boxed and Gavin showed in his last fight that he can box really well.
Would you want to expand the stable of fighters that you are currently coaching?
I would look at one more, maybe two depending on who they were. There is definitely another spot there but I’m the kind of guy that I can’t have loads of fighters. The way that I coach I can’t have ten fighters in the gym because I need my time with each one whether it’s on the bike, doing strength, doing technique or doing pads. I need to be on top all the time and that’s the way I coach. Tony, Jamie and Gavin will tell you the same thing. It isn’t a case where I say do this, do that, I need to be on top of them. I train Tony separately, then I train the twins, so I’ve got a slot where I could train one, maybe two more. I’ve got the management side of things to look after as well, but at the end of the day I do a lot of that on the phone and via email in the evening. Five would be my absolute limit.
How good do you think Kell Brook is because you know him very well?
He won a British title with me and he has massive potential. Whether or not he fills his potential is another matter. His career has always been stop start for one reason or another, there’s always a bit of drama and you get to a point where you are gutted for the kid. There are so many kids that do everything right, live right, eat right, their lifestyle is perfect but they never even win a title. You can’t feel sorry for somebody who has had everything mapped out. It has all worked out fantastically, but there is always something going on with him. Sometime it isn’t his fault but sometimes it is, and he’s always putting himself in the wrong position. He is one of these fighters that because of all of these things that keep happening, I don’t think that he will fulfil his full potential. Those of use that saw Kell day in, day out know how good he could have been and despite all of his titles he has still not reached his full potential. He is world champion but he has won one fight at world level, has he fulfilled his potential? He’s 27 or 28 now, he isn’t a young kid anymore and he needs to be in the big super fights now but there is always something that prevents them. I don’t think he will fulfil his potential and it will be a massive shame. Do I rate the kid? Yes. Has he got massive potential? Yes. He’s got phenomenal potential.
Favourite fighter growing up – Sugar Ray Leonard
Favourite glove – Grants
Best ever round you’ve seen – Gatti vs.Ward round 9
Best ever fight you’ve seen – Probably Gatti-Ward to be honest, although I’ll tell you what was a very underrated fight. It was Gatti against Ivan Robinson 1. That went under the radar and it was phenomenal.
First fight you ever went to – Wow, I can’t remember! That’s such a difficult question. You know what, I haven’t got a clue! I’ve been in boxing for twenty five years but I can’t remember what the first fight I ever went to.
First memory of boxing – Watching Mike Tyson on TV. My first memory of actual boxing was when Johnny Nelson used to do this thing in the park in the summer holidays and I remember speaking to Johnny and him saying that I should get myself down to the Brendan Ingle Gym. Johnny is probably my first memory.
Craziest thing you’ve seen in boxing – Fan Man with Evander Holyfield is the craziest thing full stop. At a live event, probably when everybody decided to jump in the ring at Joshua-Whyte.
Funniest personal moment in boxing – I honestly don’t know, that’s a tough one.
Best fight you’ve seen live – You know what I’ve been to some absolute crackers. Carl Thompson-Chris Eubank was brilliant, Curtis Woodhouse against Dale Miles was a good one. If that would have been on TV that would have been in British folk law. It was just brut