Cooper Ready For War, Underwood Hughes Eyes Title Glory

Shaun Cooper is prepared to go into the trenches again to get his hands on the Midlands super featherweight title.

His opportunity will come at the Eastside Rooms, on Woodcock Street in Birmingham, headlining a Friday fight night that’s set for September 30.

The area belt is vacant and was last contested in 2019, with Josh Baillie the former champion. Cooper and Nottingham’s Joe Underwood Hughes now both co-challenge.

Cooper was thrust into a Midlands title tilt at lightweight, also in 2019, but was halted in the fourth round by Jack O’Keeffe. Three years later, the 25-year-old goes down a weight.

‘The Scorpion’ has 13 wins to his credit and four losses on his pro record, the latter of which all came against formidable opposition. He’s also held a WBO Youth bauble.

After O’Keefe, Cooper has only been bested by top prospects Mark Chamberlain and Sam Noakes, along with Rylan Charlton in the three-round BOXXER Series.

He went the full eight rounds with Chamberlain and felt aggrieved by the TKO suffered against Noakes, which came a session away from the final session, during the ninth.

Entering May’s BOXXER Series saw him outpoint Brooklyn Tilley unanimously, before Rylan Charlton forced the finish in the third and last round of their clash.

‘The Coalpool Warrior’ is battling on, though, and still has Walsall cohort Martin Gethin, a former British lightweight champion, in his corner as coach.

Cooper said: “I asked for a title shot and Errol (Johnson, head of boxing for BCB Promotions) has done wonders to get me this chance. This is my route back to contention.

“I reckon I’ll be strong at this weight and when I last boxed for the Midlands (title), I was only 1lb over the super feather limit. I’m more than capable of going between the two weights.

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“I’d fight Jack O’Keefe again tomorrow, for nothing. I don’t even know what has happened to him. He’s lost a couple since and there’s no talk of him coming back.

“That’s the defeat that I’ll never forget, because it’s the one time where I let myself down, in five years of being a pro. I was beating him, on points, and a body shot changed everything.

“I’ve been in with bigger punchers, Mark Chamberlain threw everything at me and I got up twice and Sam Noakes was relentless, but the referee shouldn’t have stopped that one.

“It was a mistake going into BOXXER, the three rounds didn’t suit me and it was a gamble that didn’t pay off. Rylan Charlton caught me with a punch to the temple and I was dazed.

“I can’t do anything about any of that now, all that I can do is make sure that I win this time. If I turn up on the night, I can’t see him beating me.

“I can box or I can stand there and trade, going forwards or backwards, and I know that he likes to be on the back-foot. He’s a switch hitter, as well, so I’ve been sparring southpaws.

“I’m going to take it to him for 10 rounds and we will see what he’s got in the tank. I think my ability and experience make me the favourite.”

Underwood Hughes Eyes Title Glory

Joe Underwood Hughes will be in it for the long haul when he challenges for the Midlands super featherweight title.

He goes for glory at the Eastside Rooms, on Woodcock Street in Birmingham, headlining a Friday fight night that’s set for September 30.

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The 25-year-old, from Nottingham, makes the trip from Beeston in Nottinghamshire determined to go home with the vacant area crown.

He and Walsall’s Shaun Cooper are vying for the belt and could have met in the BOXXER tournament in April, which was both of their last outings.

Underwood Hughes fell at the first hurdle, but felt aggrieved by the result when he was outpointed by Rylan Charlton, after a three-round contest, on a points split decision.

Cooper outpointed Brooklyn Tilley unanimously, but was stopped by Charlton in the third round of their semi-final, taking his pro record to 13 wins and four defeats from 17 fights.

Underwood Hughes lost his undefeated streak to Charlton, having previously registered seven pro wins with one TKO, inside a round of his 2017 debut against Russ Midgley.

The bracketing of the BOXXER competition would have put him and Cooper against each other, in the last four, had Underwood Hughes got through.

The part-time plasterer, who is trained by Scott Calow, feels in a buoyant mood ahead of his trip and is ready to lay it all on the line.

He said: “I was 7-0 when I went into Boxxer, pretty routine stuff when I was learning the ropes, but I had a couple of live opponents on the way. I’ve never been afraid of a challenge.

“I boxed a lad from Spain (Jordan Rodriguez) who was 8-4 (and two draws), at the time, and I took on a debutant in the next one. Both were competitive.

“I never had an amateur career, I had 15 unlicensed (bouts) and won them all, then I turned pro. I met Scott (Calow, coach) and the rest is history.

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“A lot of people on the boxing circuit are talking about this one. I’ve trained super hard, this is a massive chance for me to become a champion and the plan is to win it.

“What makes this fight so interesting is that we are both coming off a loss to the same person (Rylan Charlton), but that really doesn’t tell the whole story.

“I still think that I won that night, he must have got through it on aggression, because it certainly wasn’t down to punches landed. I threw less, but landed more than him.

“I’d banged him up and his eye was cut (from a punch, by the left eyebrow). That was in two rounds. If it had been a 10-rounder, he wouldn’t have gone past six.

“The funny thing was that he was absolutely knackered and then went out and stopped Shaun (Cooper). Make of that what you will. I feel like it should have been me and Shaun.

“I don’t want to disrespect Shaun, he’s a good boxer, but I think it got too tough for him. I went in with a fresh Rylan (Charlton) and did better.

“My style is a lot different than Rylan’s, though. I’m a counter puncher but you have to be able to adapt to what’s in front of you. That’s what I’ll be looking to do with Shaun.

“I think that it will be a technical fight, early on, like a game of chess, but then it could come down to who wants it the most. That’s when I have to take over.”

Tickets for the Eastside Rooms bill are available, priced at £40 standard or £75 VIP ringside with buffet and waitress service, directly from the boxers or by visiting myfighttickets.com.