Boxer Josh Holmes brings Hollywood glamour to King George's Hall on professional bow
Judging by the professional debut of Josh Holmes, it comes as no surprise that the super featherweight fighter has been invited to experience Hollywood on three occasions now.
The 23-year-old wasn’t in Tinseltown to work with film industry deities such as Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott, he wasn’t parading the star-studded Walk of Fame or taking in live music at the Hollywood Bowl.
The former Eastburn ABC pugilist was rubbing shoulders with boxing royalty as the inimitable Freddie Roach scrutinised his talent at the world famous Wild Card gym in Los Angeles.
His debut at King George’s Hall couldn’t have been further away from the allure of California, the red carpet glitz and the flashing lights.
But Holmes brought the glamour to the antiquated venue with an accomplished and engaging performance deserving of an Oscar.
Victory over journeyman Naheem Chaudhry was just the start for the latest addition to Robert Rimmer’s Phoenix Camp but it was a ‘perfect’ introduction to the professional ranks.
“I’m over the moon,” he said. “I felt really good in there. I felt nice and relaxed, like I’d never left. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in there, nearly two years since my last amateur fight, but I think all the hard work with Rob over the past few months has paid off. I put on a good show for everyone.
“I haven’t been in the gym for that long, maybe three or four months, but as everyone could see it just came naturally to me.
“I was relaxing, not rushing in and trying to blow him out. I was sitting on my shots a bit more, slipping, trying to make him miss, counter punching. I think it definitely worked.
“It’s always a big fight, you only get one debut. I don’t think it could have gone any better so I’m very pleased with it.”
Aside from a few flashy moments, where he was tagged with his hands down, this was an impeccable display of boxing, both offensively and defensively.
As soon as he downed his opponent midway through the first round with a beautiful right, ushered in by a wonderfully innovative feint with his lead hand, the outcome was never in doubt.
Holmes moved in “bullet time”, seeing things in slow motion, operating with a heightened perception, almost as if he was auditioning for a part in The Matrix.
Chaudhry’s attempts to connect finished up in a different postcode by the time the debutant had ducked, dived or pirouetted his way out of trouble.
Then came the calculated counter punches, the real pièce de résistance. Holmes shifted his weight effortlessly, affording him the balance to work new angles and maintain an unpredictability.
There were certainly shades of Vasyl Lomachenko and Prince Naseem Hamed in this particular masterpiece.
“It was a perfect debut really with the knockdown, the victory and four rounds in the bag,” said Holmes. “I felt comfortable, my fitness was good and I was able to work on my defensive skills as well as my offensive.
“If people ever compare me to Lomachenko that would be amazing. It’s one step at a time, I think I put on a good show there, showed good foot and head movement. If I can build up to 50% of what he is I’ll be doing alright.
“He’d never been stopped but I had him down in the first round with a big right hand. It was hard not to chase him after that but I looked straight over to my corner and Rob was telling me to settle down.”
He added: “There’s no better feeling than landing a shot peach perfect. When you see them go down it is a nice feeling. I showed a little bit of experience by not chasing it and not jumping on him to look for that stoppage. I could tell that I’d hurt him.
“I faked the left hook and then it was a big right hook. I’d caught him with one before and I’d seen him stick his tongue out to say ‘yes, you caught me there’. I put it on him again and I definitely caught him.
“I felt my shots land quite a few other times. He was a tough lad, he put up a good fight and he came to win.
“That’s what I needed; that pressure and throwing more shots at me so I can be slipping and counter punching. It’s no good if he’s on the back foot with his hands up for four rounds. He needs to be throwing for me to stay sharp. I’m happy with that.”