BLACKPOOL has it’s second boxing champion – its second named Brian to be exact.
For Brian “The Lion” Rose was crowned British light-middleweight champion, after a convincing win over Droylsden’s Prince Arron on Saturday night.
His feat came 52 years after heavyweight Brian London took the British and Commonwealth titles, on the way to two world title fights.
The Lion’s feat marked the end of five weeks of rigorous training and self-imposed exile from son Oscar – a feat he found harder than the actual title fight itself.
The 26-year-old beat his former sparring partner in a distance fight at Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan.
With the title, and iconic Lonsdale belt, secured it’s a relaxed Brian sitting in his central Blackpool home with seven-month-old son and mum Amanda.
The fitness coach, still soaking up the magnitude of his victory, said the build-up to the bout was a surreal experience for him – his biggest yet, but also his calmest.
He added: “I’ve never been so relaxed before a fight.
“I was enjoying the hype and all of the build-up – I’ve never had that before, never been so exposed. But I enjoyed it.
“The fight’s not the hard part. Being away from my son Oscar for five weeks while training was the hard part.
“The fight was easy – it’s the training that’s difficult.
“Getting up and running before anyone else was awake, eating porridge and taking vitamins before going back to bed. Getting up and training in the gym before lunch and then bed. And then back to the gym.”
The regime paid off though, the culmination of training since the age of nine – the year he first moved to the resort from Birmingham.
“Andy Sumner trained me and I had my first fight at 11,” said Brian. “I was with him for 10 years – he was brilliant, and still is training now. Working with kids and making them champions.”
Losing his first bout didn’t dampen The Lion’s spirits – he eventually won his next three fights against the same opponent, before taking countless amateur titles.
Mum Amanda doesn’t think the training’s the hard part. Oh no. It’s definitely the watching.
“It’s awful watching him in the ring, but I’m extremely proud,” she said.
“I was positive he was going to win – I just had a feeling.”
It was a less successful bout of Brian’s which still causes her anguish whenever she watches him.
“It didn’t help that she saw me knocked out by Max Maxwell,” said Brian. “Getting beaten is one thing, but getting knocked out is another.”
It’s not just Brian who’s had to make sacrifices for his belt – there’s his family too.
“Meal-wise, everyone else is eating chips and my mum’s had to make me separate meals, jacket potatoes and the like. It’s a lot of work.”
Amanda knows full well: “I started eating the same as him once, and ended up on a diet.”
Brian added: “My whole family’s made sacrifices – my dad dragging me out of bed to get to training every morning, when it’s freezing outside.
“Oscar’s mum Danielle was so helpful. She’s been brilliant. I know she’s his mother, but at times it must have been hard when I was training. She won’t have been able to go out like normal. Her mum and dad are a great help as well.
“But it was all for this fight.
“I’ll spend all of my time now with Oscar. I actually feel lost without the training. As tough as it is, I love it, but it’s suddenly gone.
“Now I’ve got nothing to do except visit family.”
Brian is one of many promising up and coming young boxers in the area. Matty Askin, Adam Little and Lytham’s Scott Cardle, who has just turned professional, all look like heaping more glory on the Fylde coast.
It’s a movement Brian’s delighted to be a part of – and has high hopes for the future. “For such a small town, Blackpool is doing great. Maybe one day we could book a show out in Blackpool, get a big bill for Bloomfield Road – there’s potential for us to stage big fight nights there.”
It’s not just physical warfare which won him his title though. The fact the title fight was against a former sparring partner helped in the psychological battle so common in the build-up, with fighters keen to do each other down and build themselves up.
Brian said: “I just felt this time that everything was right.
“The fact we’d sparred in the past worked in my favour.
“He kept saying I was better at sparring, and that must have been at the back of his mind when we got in the ring.
“It’s different when the headguards are off and the gloves are changed – the punches hurt more and that must have affected him mentally.
“It was impossible to lose that fight. I think he expected to get in with me and blow me away. But I got in there and gave him a shock.”
The recuperation period following the fight won’t be long; the champion will have to defend his title, and January has been earmarked for the start of training, perhaps with a March fight date.
“I’ve already got a couple of opponents in mind,” said Brian. “I’m not going to avoid anyone. I’ve got a voluntary defence, but I’ll take whoever’s next – at the end of the day, Prince didn’t have to fight me, he chose to.”
So Blackpool has a British champion – and one with a good following of supporters who have watched him progress – history in the making.
“There is a bit of history there,” said Brian, “ I’ve met Brian London a couple of times. It would be good to get together with him now – two champions together.”
So what chances of Oscar following in dad’s footsteps? “None. I don’t want him to be a boxer like his dad. I want him to be a professional footballer. Then he can look after us all.”