BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHTS — These are giddy times for heavyweight boxing in England. IBF champion Anthony Joshua is widely considered the real deal, merely the most talented heavyweight on the planet. David Haye, Dillian Whyte and Hughie Fury are all rated in the top five by one or more of the major sanctioning bodies. Cuban ex-patriot Luis Ortiz, who left Miami for greener pastures in London, is on the cusp of a world title shot. Then there’s undefeated Tyson Fury, the defrocked lineal heavyweight champion, off on a “sabbatical,” gone but not forgotten.
We may shortly be adding another name to this list. Nathan Gorman, whose receding hairline belies the fact that he is only 20 years old, has only eight pro fights under his belt and has competed against only two boxers with winning records, but those in the know in the U.K. perceive a wealth of potential. True, he carries a little too much weight on his six-foot-three frame, but he’s light on his feet and punches with authority.
Gorman was pilfered out of the amateur ranks by Ricky Hatton, the former 140- and 147-pound world champion who has transitioned into a trainer/manager/promoter with several successful businesses on the side. “I urge fight fans everywhere to follow this special talent,” tweeted Hatton. “This boy is going straight to the top.”
That’s standard hyperbole for a boxing promoter, but Hatton’s credibility as a talent scout and coach took a big jump up when he guided Kazakh bantamweight Zhanat Zhakiyanov to a world title. In his U.S. debut, on Feb. 10 in Toledo, the unheralded Zhakiyanov wrested the title from Rau’shee Warren.
In his most recent outing, this past Saturday, Nathan Gorman put away Gogita Gorgiladze, a 24-year-old trial horse from the Republic of Georgia, in 109 seconds, collapsing Gorgiladze with a series of body shots climaxed by a left hook to the rib cage. The Georgian let out an audible yelp as the final punch landed, an indication that he wasn’t faking it when he slumped to the canvas.
Gorman’s display invited comparisons with his mentor, Ricky Hatton, whose stock in trade was a punch to the solar plexus. If the lad from Cheshire continues to climb the ladder, his fan base will grow exponentially, helped along by his interesting back story. Gorman, a member of the Irish Traveller community, albeit raised in a home built of brick, is a direct descendant of Bartley Gorman (1944-2002), England’s most fabled bare-knuckle fighter. His father and Bartley Gorman were first cousins. (The Furys also claim a connection to Bartley Gorman, the self-styled King of the Gypies, but the biological tie is more complex.)
Gorman’s next fight is slated for April 1 in London against 36-year-old London bus driver Dominic Akinlade. The vacant Lonsdale belt, once a prestigious diadem, was going to be at stake, but the British Boxing Board of Control withdrew their sanction when Akinlade went and lost his last fight. Regardless, Gorman will almost certainly advance to 9-0, elbowing his way into a lineup of good British heavyweights.
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