IT has been a long, hard road to the top for Blackpool’s Brian Rose, the unassuming, popular 26-year-old who enjoyed his crowning moment when beating Prince Arron for the British light-middleweight title at Wigan’s Robin Park on Saturday night.
Rose’s interest in boxing started when he was around nine, when he came under the wing of amateur coach Andy Sumner, who used to train at the former Burn Naze and Blackpool clubs.
It was an inauspicious start as the youngster lost his first fight – but he learned from the experience and went on to avenge the defeat against the same rival, not once but three times.
Within a year, young Rose picked up his first boys’ amateur title, the first of many.
His rate of improvement, showing classic amateur technique, was swift and England international duty ultimately beckoned.
It was readily apparent to Sumner that the talent was there, and it was just a question of letting it to develop and mature.
The clear signs of a successful progression to the professional ranks were apparent.
Sumner recalled: “Brian was always willing to learn and had his family behind him.
“His father used to bring him to the gym every week and went to all his fights.
“He was the perfect dad, as far as I was concerned. He has always been supportive, but he didn’t interfere and he let us get on with it.
“Brian was only a teenager and he sparred with Bobby Vanzie (a one-time British lightweight title winner). Vanzie couldn’t lay a glove on him
“And it was the same with Craig Watson (former British welterweight title winner) when he sparred with Brian.”
Sumner added: “Brian has worked hard to get where he has, and I couldn’t have been more pleased to see him win the British title.
“He doesn’t mouth off about what he is going to do – he just does it.
“I have found with Brian that he always performs when the task in front of him is supposed to be tougher than normal, as it was with Prince Arron on Saturday.
“He rises to the challenge.”
Sumner was there in the formative years of another potential British champion – cruiserweight Matty Askin.
You wait years (since 1959) for a British title winner from Blackpol to arrive and maybe, like buses, two will come at once.
Askin has an outstanding chance of attaining a Lonsdale Belt in 2012.
Sumner was in Askin’s corner when he won the ABA cruiserweight title at Bethnal Green, London, after which the fighter immediately turned pro.
Sumner stills trains youngsters at a club in Atherton, Greater Manchester, and he says wistfully: “I just wish I could find another champion.”