Round Two at Goodwin Promotions 
    
The curtain has metaphorically been pulled back on the revolution at Goodwin Promotions.  Ironic really, as in reality the curtain has been pulled over.  Confused?  Well, on the October 17th show from York Hall, the Promotional outfit debuted their new stage setup at the home of English Boxing and the reaction has been beyond positive.  Browse their Facebook group to find comments such as “See this, thought it looked awesome makes York hall that little bit better” and “brilliant set up, looked great!”.  In fact there is not a bad word uttered about the new look and feel of the 86 year old building in Bethnal Green.
 
The event itself has been covered in depth on this site (read the review here ); the fights were only the headline though.  The sub-text was what has been going on behind the scenes.  For some fans it would have been their first experience of small hall boxing while others may have been making one of multiple returns.  For both sets though it was clear on the night that there has been investment in both the shows and the fighters.  You can speak to any of the ever growing stable of boxers under the Goodwin Promotions banner and each speaks the same words, that they feel a part of something special and that they have a boss who is honest and cares for THEIR career.  Not an easy thing to do when you have 90+ fighters to be looking after.  Of course there is the boss Steve, a man who divides his time between the boxing, his horse racing business and a successful Financial Advisor.  Behind him there is the Head of Boxing Kevin Campion who works with Steve’s son and daughter, Josh and Olivia.  Each of them have their roles in the organisation and each of them is on first name terms with the plethora of fighters under their wing.  
  
October 17th showed what the first draft looked like.  There were a few behind the scenes scares and minor areas of improvement but as a fan, the majority of these went unnoticed.  What was striking was each fighter being given a full entrance, including promotional video emblazoned with sponsors name, the traditional entrance music and then there was the added bonus of a ring walk down the newly constructed ramp from the top of the stage to the squared circle.  All of this culminated in making the event feeling big; similar to any of the large arena shows that you may have attended in the past but crammed into the confined 1,200 person leisure centre.  Not a drop of the atmosphere escaped the venue as fighters were made to feel welcome (or not, in some cases) by the fans that both surround and overlook the ring.  The smoke machine on the ring walk threw back memories to a time when feather-hatted journalists and fans alike would be able to sit and puff on cigarettes from ringside, a haze at times embracing the fighter as they ducked under the top rope to make their way into the fight arena. 
 
With such a vast range of fighters though the logistics around making entrance videos, taking professional photos and recording soundbites to a microphone are not easy.  Hence why the group who employ the moniker of ‘We Never Stop’ were busy at work again on a Sunday getting fighters through the door and working on the foundations to what will accompany them the next time they make their way out to fight. 
As I walk in to the Goodwin offices in Leighton Buzzard I am met by the type of sight I hadn’t anticipated on a Sunday afternoon away from the wife and kids; five young men stood around in various states of undress awaiting their turn to be directed in front of camera.  Laughter breaks out when Johnny Garton, next in line to fight for the English welterweight title after defeating Martin Welsh in September, is instructed to turn right towards the camera and look moody.  “You turned left, you can’t even get that right!” calls out featherweight Jamie Speight as it is pointed out that directional turns may not be considered the Peckham fighters strong point.
 
Speight has made a special effort to be here today.  Along with trainer Jack Green and stablemate Darren Townley the trio have come up from Devon just to be a part of the new setup – four and a half hours each way journeys and still the lads are bright and breezy on a Sunday afternoon.  Good job really, as at the other location for filming is a boxing ring and gym that the fighters work out in, all while under the watchful gaze of John and Kevin.  There’s work on the pads, the heavy bags, sit ups and press ups in the ring.  “It’s like a tease to the body, I’m just getting started then it stops” says Speight as his filming ends.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing for the 27 year old who has just come off a stoppage loss to Isaac Lowe for the British featherweight title.
  
The ring entrances here are slightly less grand than the ones they will be making on their next trip to York Hall and for Garton there’s a confession that surprises the onlookers.  “First three minutes of a fight I’m fucked” he says in his rough London accent.  “I get back to the corner and my team tell me not to drink like a pitbull but then after that I’m fine and it’s easy.  But that first round’s always hard.”  Unfortunately for Garton it’s not a full 12 rounder today, more a short sprint to get through the filming session. 
  
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 In the bar area fighters sit and converse about all things boxing.  There is a common theme despite the variation in personnel as one hot topic spans the day.  “That Prince Patel is a right dick” is heard on more than one occasion.  This comes on the back of the outspoken flyweight who recently appeared on BoxNation and disrespected former world champion Barry Jones while he was sat beside him on the TV show sofa.  A former part of Goodwin Promotions, the self-proclaimed “Super Human” is gaining headlines for his growing CV of outlandish claims and insults.  There is more than one fighter in the waiting room seemingly happy to test the abilities of the Acton based loudmouth.
 
There are more positive words spoken amongst the fighters to each other.  At one point sparring sessions are arranged, as coaches discuss availability throughout the week and logistical difficulties are overcome.  “We can come to yours Wednesday evening…..but I can’t do Tuesday.  How about you come to us Thursday?”.  Must make the arrangements easier when these things can be done face-to-face. 
 
One weight division that Goodwin Promotions are stacked in is cruiserweight.  The likes of Louie Darlin, Jose Lopes, Karl Wheeler, Spiros Demetriou, Ossie Jervier, Ryan Crawford, Wadi Camacho and Southern Area champion Lawrence Bennett all do their work in the second heaviest weight class in boxing.  Having a chat with Lopes I put it to him about an inter-stable competition to sort out positions within their stable.  He certainly wasn’t adverse to the idea and sees it as inevitable that a number of them will have to meet up in the future at some point. 
 
Lopes is a giant of a man, stood well over six foot and with hair neatly twisted into mini dreadlocks.  He has a permanent smile attached to his face, likeable and easy to warm to.  He becomes the butt of the jokes as he says his goodbyes, warned that on the way out he best watch his elevated head against the low beams that hang over the bar area.  It could be a first loss for Stratford based fighter, suffering a TKO loss to an inanimate piece of wood offering support to the roof structure wouldn’t have been how his career was planned in his mind.
 
Behind the laughter and joking of the day each of these fighters speaks highly of the setup.  Some were lucky enough to be part of the packed audience on October 17th, some have seen the video footage recorded of the night and others are planning on wanting it to be a surprise for them when they are next due to fight.  The common theme though is that each of them acknowledges they are lucky to be a part of Goodwin Promotions as they press ahead with their ambitious setup and shows.  Recently they moved from 5th to 3rd in the list of UK promoters, helped no doubt by both the steps taken to improve the staging as well as the frequency on fight nights being put on (two in November and one in December).  It is a product that is now made for a TV platform; when that comes is unknown at present but undoubtedly the work is being put in by all involved to ensure that when the opportunity does arise the hard work has already been completed. 
 
For tickets for the next Goodwin Promotions show visit the ticket sales website: http://iboxingtickets.com/