Boxing: Leeds Lionhearts ready to roar for GB

Connor Loftus
Connor Loftus
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LEEDS boxers Jack Bateson and Connor Loftus are hoping to create a mighty roar for the British Lionhearts in this Wednesday’s World Series of Boxing assignment against Morocco Atlas Lions at York Hall.

Loftus, 21, is preparing for his British Lionhearts debut while Bateson, 22, will be representing the Lionhearts for the fourth time.

Jack Bateson. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Jack Bateson. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

But both fighters share two common goals in both proudly representing the city of Leeds – and also in relishing the opportunity to do their country proud.

Loftus is competing at new weight as a light welterweight (64kg) having dropped down a weight class from welterweight (69kg) and is determined not to be a rookie just coming along for the ride.

“Coming down weights I’ve got a lot to contend with, especially with it being my first for the WSB,” he said.

“Obviously, I’m hoping for the win, expecting the win and boxing for the win, but as long as I can put in a good performance, I’ll be happy.

“I’ve watched many of the World Series and especially at York Hall, I’ve never boxed there before but I’ve heard it had a great atmosphere, so I’m just looking forward to that.

“It has a status about it, a legendary place for boxing in the UK, so to say I’ve boxed there will be another proud accolade on my CV.

“It will be a new experience boxing at the lower weight and in the five round WSB format, but my preparation has been good and all of my teammates say that boxing at York Hall is special, so I am really looking forward to it.

“Being from Leeds, I don’t get to London very often, but the environment that I box in does not really make a great deal of difference to me.”

Despite the new venture, Loftus will at least have some familiarity behind him, joined by fellow Leeds boxer Bateson.

Bantamweight Bateson was widely expected to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics last year and is still deeply proud to represent the British Lionhearts,

Bateson said: “It’s always a great feeling putting on the British Lionhearts kit, wearing the badge on your back, going abroad with your mates, fighting in different countries and just representing GB is an amazing achievement, it’s a great feeling.

“It’s a bit more like a pro contest, so it’s almost like making your debut when you have your first fight, but instead of fighting a journeyman from overseas, you’re fighting a top-quality operator, so it’s a great experience.

“When you watch boxing and you don’t know anything about it, that’s the first thing you see, no vest and five to 12 rounds, it’s what you dream of doing, fighting on television.

“That’s what we’re doing now and it’s great for us to get involved in that sort of thing.”

The Lionhearts currently sit second in Group B of WSB with four points, following a 3-2 away win against the France Fighting Roosters and a 3-2 defeat away to Italia Thunder in the team’s first fixture of the season.

l See the British Lionhearts in action in London, March/April 2017. Tickets just £20 at sky.com/tickets

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