Royston boxer turns professional

ROYSTON boxer Levi Raymond has made the decision to turn professional after a successful seven-year career in the amateur ranks.

The 17-year-old, who turns 18 next month, is only the second fighter from Royston to turn pro after the now retired Bradley Evans made the switch back in 2009, but Raymond insists he is determined to make himself a success in the infamously difficult world of boxing.

He has signed up with trainer and manager Graham Earl, the former British and Commonwealth lightweight champion from Luton, at the House of Champions gym based in Hitchin. Earl fought an up-and-coming Amir Khan as well as the Australian Michael Katsidis at Wembley Stadium in 2007, before eventually retiring in 2009, and currently trains heavyweight Prizefighter contestant Tom Little.

Raymond hopes his speed and powerful style will allow for a seamless transition to the professional game, and a first fight has been earmarked for August, although an opponent has yet to be decided.

“I had been toying with the idea for a while,” Raymond told the Royston Crow, when asked how he arrived at the decision to turn pro. “I think professional boxing is more suited to my game, and I went to Graham to see if he would consider taking me on.

“He’s a great trainer and a very good promoter, and he liked what he saw of me and gave me an opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down.”

Life as a newly-turned professional boxer is often one of struggle, and many have tried and failed due to the relatively poor financial rewards on offer. However Raymond, who works in a sheet metal factory, insists he is not doing it for the money and says he wants to prove to himself and to others he can become a big fish in an extremely large pond in the years to come.

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“It’s hard to make money but I’m not in it for that – I’m doing it for the love of the sport,” he added. “Graham and my amateur trainer Dean Sayers know what I can do and have both been very impressed with me.

“I train every night for three and a half hours and it costs me around �120 per week with costs, so it’s not cheap. But I’ve got a few sponsors on board now, and hopefully more can follow, and it really helps.”

Raymond, whose boxing hero is five-division world champion and the world’s pound-for-pound No.1 boxer Floyd Mayweather Jnr, also admitted he is making a number of sacrifices to fulfil his ambitions as a professional – the main one being he doesn’t get to see his family as mush as he used to as an amateur. He is also no longer able to go out with his friends and do all the things a regular 17-year-old does.

“Already things have changed for me but I’m confident in myself and my ability to succeed,” he said. “I was an amateur for a long time, and I was planning on turning pro when I was 21. But when Graham gave me this opportunity there was no way I could turn it down and I’m excited about the future.”