Boxer teams up with Olympic athlete in pursuit of English crown

Iain Martell on his way to winning the Southern Area cruiserweight title two years ago, against Jose Lopes at York Hall

Iain Martell on his way to winning the Southern Area cruiserweight title two years ago, against Jose Lopes at York Hall - Credit: Mark Hewlett

Norfolk boxer Iain Martell has teamed up with a two-time Olympic athlete to realise his dream of domestic glory. 

Paul Evans - who won the Chicago Marathon in 1996 and competed at the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics – is taking Martell through his paces ahead of his English cruiserweight title fight, at a venue yet to be confirmed, on June 18 when he faces Luke Watkins for the vacant title. 

“I think to be a good boxer you have got to be a real cross-athlete, you have got to do everything well, you’ve got to be strong, powerful, explosive,” said Martell after a session at Henderson Park. 

“You have got to have endurance, and tracks and sprints is one thing that is absolutely fundamental for my game. I have got to be able to repeat explosive power over and over again in these 10- and 12-round fights, so that’s why I’m down here with Paul Evans. 

“I got introduced to him through a friend and I met him maybe six weeks ago. Not only is he a two-time Olympian who has achieved great things in his own career, but he is a really good human being and he is teaching me so many things, not just about how to be a better runner, how to be a good man and how to look at sports and how I carry myself etc. It is an absolute pleasure to be around him and I am learning so much every time. 

“There is so much to the psyche of an athlete whether it is a runner, a ping-pong player. a netball player, a footballer, there so, so much you can learn from all these sports and the more I learn the better I get.” 

Martell has a 100pc record in 11 outings, with five KOs, as a pro boxer, having had a successful career in MMA. Watkins has 15 wins, 10 by KO, and two defeats and is a former Commonwealth champion. 

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“This English title fight for me is absolutely everything,” said Martell. “The guy will not run and neither will I. We will meet in the middle and I will back him up, I will feint to body and head, I’ll confuse him, I’ll give him lots of looks and I’ll stop him. 

“I don’t see it going the distance, but we will prepared for it. Whatever happens I will be there. He is a former Irish champion and a former Commonwealth champion, he has my respect now and that is why I am working so hard every day. But on the night he will have none and then I expect a knockout victory.”