Uttoxeter hellraiser Josh Groombridge concedes he lacks the nous to outfox the field when eight of the nation’s brightest middleweight hopefuls trade leather at Ultimate Boxxer III, at Indigo at The O2 on Friday 10th May, so it’s his intention to simply outlast and outblast them! UB III, sponsored by MansionBet, is exclusively live on BT Sports, BT Sports’ You Tube channel - available to anyone to watch for free - and the dedicated boxing channel BoxNation. ‘I know some of the others in UB are better technically than me so I have to be fitter than they are,’ acknowledges the Staffordshire terrier who has already clattered four hapless victims inside three rounds whilst compiling a 7-1 pro card.
‘I train four hours every day. I’m up at 4.30 to run three or four miles, five times a week, before starting work as a laser operative in Derby at six. I graft a minimum 55 hours per week, then bomb over to the Impact Gym in Stoke for boxing training.’
The power punching 26 year old acquired his Popeye strength by pumping iron throughout his teenage years.
‘I don’t lift any more,’ says Josh.
‘I did the weight training at the right time, in my teens. I’ve sparred plenty of decent lads like Sam Eggington and Marcus Morrison and they all comment on how strong I am.
‘My dad’s mate got me into the boxing. When he took me on punch pads at the gym, he couldn’t believe how hard I punched.
‘I never boxed amateur - hence my technical ability is not the best- but had about 30 white collar (contests), winning about 25. My aim ain’t the best but, when the radar is right, they tend to tumble. My coach Scott Lawton (former English lightweight champion) and I couldn’t be any more bipolar!
Joltin’ Josh hails from Uttoxeter, a north midlands market town more synonymous with horse racing than prizefighting.
‘It’s a little place where everybody knows everybody,’ explains Groombridge who was born in the nearby beer town of Burton.
‘Those who don’t particularly like boxing, like me and enjoy the way I fight. Every time it’s like a gungho western! I’ve already shifted over a hundred tickets for UB and I’m trying to get my hands on more.
‘No doubt some competitors will dismiss me as a country simpleton. There might not be much boxing going on but it’s like the wild west here. Loads of cowboys and Indians. A tough man’s town. They’re always scrapping at the races.’
Though five rivals land at Indigo with unbeaten slates, outsider Groombridge encountered the sour taste of defeat in April 2018, stopped in the seventh of a scheduled eight rounder by Cameroun hardcase Emmanuel Moussinga.
He explains: ‘After tagging Emmanuel with a few quite early, I tried to take him out and completely gassed. I simply couldn’t give any more. My own fault, a learning curve. I hope other entrants read something into it but there’s absolutely no chance I’ll get stopped over three rounds.’
UB III represents his first venture outside his home county as a pro and he is frothing with excitement.
‘The O2 is the Mecca of British boxing at the minute. If you make it big, it’s where you want to box. I intend proving I deserve to be there,’ states Groombridge.
‘I don’t waste energy on being negative about opponents. I’m not in boxing to go unbeaten, I’m in the sport to compete with the top lads. I’m fully aware some of the others have fantastic ability but, over three rounds, I can dig in with anybody.
‘These fights are gonna be very fast, very frenetic sprints and the ‘messiness’ will suit me. I might not have the most variety but I’m strong at middleweight and I’ll bring a good chin and hard hands. I’ve already stopped several tough, tough journeyman.
‘As well as my big punch, I bring heart and belief. I’ll take my chance and put it on ‘em, force ‘em to answer questions they’ve not answered before.
‘If I might take the missus for an ice cream but I’m not thinking of the money, just the opportunities.
‘I intend to be the very, very best I can be and hopefully, that’ll be enough. I’ve a puncher’s chance with any of them.’