Coach Conway wary of Sambou threat as Northampton boxer James returns to the ring

Eithan James returns to the ring this Saturday when he clashes with Senegalese fighter Matar Sambou as part of the Night Of Champions event at the Utlilita Arena in Birmingham.
Northampton boxer Eithan JamesNorthampton boxer Eithan James
Northampton boxer Eithan James

The Northampton boxer will be aiming to stretch his winning record as a professional to six wins out of six, with the show being broadcast live on BT Sport.

James will go into the fight against the 37-year-old as the favourite, but his coach at Team Shoe-Box in Northampton, James Conway, has made sure his man knows he is in for a tough encounter.

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A look at Sambou’s professional record is not something that will have 20-year-old James shaking in his boxing boots.

But there is much more to him than that pro record suggests, and Conway and his team are well aware of the threat the experienced fighter poses to their man.

“He is a lot better than it suggests on paper,” said Conway.

“He’s had lots of winning amateur experience and many, many unlicensed fights where he was the Queensbury champion.

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“The strong southpaw backhand is a dangerous weapon that Sambou possesses, as he has proved by knocking people out regularly in the past.

Eithan James is targeting a sixth straight professional winEithan James is targeting a sixth straight professional win
Eithan James is targeting a sixth straight professional win

“Avoiding that is something we’ve been keen to work on in the gym.

“As much as Eithan is still young, he and we are keen for the competitive competition.

“But in boxing, people tend to look at records and dangerous opponents can be dismissed or taken for granted as much as some weaker opponents can have padded out records.

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“Sambou is a decent fighter, we won’t be fooled by the record and take him lightly.”

Sambou is certainly in shape for the bout, as he was in action at York Hall in London last weekend.

He took on Nathan Mizon, who was making his professional debut, and lost the six-round bout on points.

That took his pro career record to three wins and three defeats.

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Progress for James has been exclusively upwards so far, and the Northampton fighter is keen to maintain that momentum as he gets back in the ring for what will be his first fight since the points win over another experienced campaigner, Clayton Bricknell, at the end of March.

And it will be his first fight back in front of a crowd since before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

“Everything is going to plan, and everything is where I want it to be at the moment,” said James.

“I just want to take little steps up, not rush things too much yet, but to start stepping up.

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"I am fighting over six rounds now, and I want to start getting opponents with winning records and then step up to an eight-rounder in a few months’ time.

“I feel I am getting stronger with the right strength and conditioning guys behind me, and hopefully people will start seeing that in my performance.”

Looking ahead to Saturday, the former Kings Heath amateur said: “It should be the best Eithan James yet, and on the night hopefully it will be.

"It will also be good to give a bit to the fans as I haven’t had them there at a fight for a while. It will be good to have them there, pushing me on.”

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James’ fight is the latest high profile bout for Team Shoe-Box, which is based on Harlestone Road in Northampton.

And James says the gym’s success is proving to be an inspiration.

“We have lads doing big shows. Kieron Conway is out on October 9 against JJ Metcalf and the gym is thriving,” he said.

“We have good lads fighting on big shows, all on TV, and that is only pushing on the other lads in the gym as well.

“The gym is thriving, the atmosphere is good and pushing everyone on.”

Live coverage of the Night Of Champions starts on BT Sport 1 at 7.30pm.