BOXING SPOTLIGHT: JOHN HEDGES
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One of Britain’s most intriguing young boxers elected to turn pro this year. John Hedges was a standout amateur for his club and country, winning 4 national titles, including the GB tri-nations, and 7 international titles. He finished his amateur career with a great record of 40-4.
Hedges signed a management deal with S-Jam Boxing in April and, without having a single pro-fight yet due to COVID-19, has landed a great promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing.
Sam Jones, of S-Jam boxing, is a fantastic choice for Hedges. Jones has made a big name for himself after only entering the boxing-management business in 2017. He has rapidly risen to the top-level, building a reputation as an extremely competent, knowledgeable but more importantly loyal and savvy manager. The former VW salesman has successfully managed to apply his sales and deal-closing skills to the fight game, while simultaneously demonstrating a great deal of business acumen.
Hedges, being the young, enthusiastic, and talented boxer that he is has already surrounded himself with people of a similar ilk. His manager, Sam Jones, is young and equally enthusiastic and talented. His new promoter, Eddie Hearn, is one the youngest top-echelon promoters in the game and is as flashy outside the ring as Hedges is inside it.
Matchroom also has a deep and talented stable at Super-Middleweight for Hedges to pit himself against. Hedges joins WBA World, WBC Diamond & Ring Magazine Champion Callum Smith; WBO World Super-Middleweight Champion, Billy Joe Saunders; As well as Daniel Jacobs, John Ryder, and Rocky Fielding, who are all ranked top 10 worldwide.
Of his new deal with Matchroom Boxing, Hedges said, “It’s a massive move for me and I can’t wait to get started… With my size and ability, I honestly believe that I’ll go all the way and become a young World Champion, if not the youngest.”
Hearn gave similar testament to Hedges’ formidableness, “John has proven his credentials in the amateurs, winning countless titles at both National and International level. His size and ability will make him a problem for anyone at 168lbs and I look forward to guiding his development”
Despite being just 18 years old, Hedges has a lot of experience, having been around boxing since he was a kid, and has been boxing competitively since he was 12. At 6′ 5″ he’s also a towering man for the Super-Middleweight division, enjoying a five-inch height advantage over the division average.
His main strength, which he uses to perfection, is obviously his tremendous reach, but he’s by no means a one-trick pony. Though lean and long, Hedges is a strong puncher and has deceptively fast hands for a man so tall.
As a boxer, he looks up to Tyson Fury and it shows in his style and ring confidence. Outside of the ring, Hedges is a confident but mild-mannered and respectful man, earning him the nickname ‘Gentleman John’. However, inside the ring, he uses his height and reach to brutal effect, much the way his idol Fury does.
He throws an incredibly stiff downwards jab, keeps moving around his opponent, lands the hard shots as his opponents try to move in on him. He’s got great head movement and mobility from the waist, able to swing back and away or duck under hooks with pace despite his height. He shows great boxing intelligence in the way he controls the ring, keeps the range, and paces his fights.
Hedges also has a great lead uppercut, which he’s thrown from deep while towering over his opponents up-close, but also thrown long as his opponents have had trouble estimating his long reach. Fighting out of Southpaw and being so tall he causes a lot of problems for his opponents, which Hedges has built on by developing his own style which takes his strengths fully into account.
He’s not just a tall boxer, he’s a boxer who knows how to box tall and throws long variations of the fundamental punches, as well as sticking to the basics. While he has great textbook footwork, he also sometimes switches into a much wider stance, long even for him, which lowers his head to his opponents’ level but allows him to move in and out far quicker than his opponents.
A mature head on big shoulders
One of the most impressive things about the big youngster is his mentality. He’s as confident in himself as any fighter should be but remains well aware of his position within the boxing world. He sees himself as a rising star, key focus on rising. John shows an intense desire to reach the top of the sport, paired with a deep understanding of how much work he has to do to get there. He signed his professional management contract with Sam Jones of S-Jam Boxing on his 18th birthday and was keen to enjoy the occasion, but was very quick to point out that it’s only the first step.
As an amateur Hedges was a smart fighter, he always had a strong game plan and made small adjustments as he needed to. His clear ability and boxing IQ allowed him to develop his own showy style while still remaining a dominant force. He seems perpetually focused as a sportsman, with a clear roadmap for each fight but also for his larger career. Hedges had a great team behind him at Hoddesdon based Hodbox Academy, his family has clearly done a great job raising an intelligent, respectful and ambitious man.
Keep an eye on the young ‘Gentleman John’ Hedges, he’s only going to get bigger… in name and most likely in stature.