Billy Bird has set his sights on winning a British title as he prepares to put his perfect professional record on the line tomorrow.
The 20-year-old from Cockfield, who turned professional in March last year, is preparing to return to the ring at Norwich’s Epic Centre for his fifth pro bout and take on London’s Ben Robinson as he looks to continue his burgeoning career.
And after enjoying a promising start, ‘Billy Boy’ — who left behind a job in groundworks to pursue his dreams — is targeting some of the biggest names in the light middleweight division including Billy Jo Saunders, Olympic medallist James DeGale and Chris Eubank Junior.
“Turning professional was literally the best decision of my life,” he said.
“It was a huge decision
to take but when the opportunity came up I couldn’t turn it down and thankfully I’ve had some really great results.
“It has been really hard work but it is something I’ve dreamed about doing and so I have to knuckle down and put the effort in.
“My aim for the immediate future is to win a British title, every young British boxer dreams of doing that and I definitely think I’m capable of it.
“Hopefully by the end of this year I can get a British Masters fight which will set me on my way to bigger and better opponents.
“To get to where I need to go I would need to face people like Billy Joe Saunders, James DeGale and Chris Eubank Junior.
“It’s all about working my way up to that level and then get all the benefits that come with it.”
But what are the benefits that Bird alludes to? Is it the allure of fame, fortune and celebrity status that can come with a highly successful boxing career? No, in fact, far from it.
“I’m not getting into boxing for the money, I’m doing it because I love the sport,” he explained. “Growing up I idolised Ricky Hatton and the way he boxed.
“I’m a bit like him in the terms of style because I’m forward thinking and like a bit of a brawl.
“However, I don’t want the life that he had after boxing and the issues that followed.”
And if Bird, who fights under Shamrock promotions, is looking for guidance and inspiration then he doesn’t have to look too far.
Sharing a ring on a regular basis at Norwich’s Kickstop Boxing Club with Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo, the youngster has seen first hand the abundant adulation and respect, as well as a bumper sponsorship deal with Nike, that Ogogo is enjoying.
But despite admiring the 25-year-old, who won bronze in Beijing 2008, Bird is fully aware that he will have to follow a different path if he is to reap the same rewards.
“Being able to spar with Anthony, an Olympic medallist, is a real honour,” he added. “He’s a great boxer and I’ve learned a lot from him and how he presents himself.
“He made his name through the Olympics and things have happened for him.
“It is different for me and I’m now working to make my name, I kind of prefer this route though because I’m learning to earn everything I get, it’s good for my development.”