ANTH Hardy has been handed a challenge by his trainer: Take into the ring what you produce in the gym.
Gus Robinson Developments head coach Peter Cope has made his instructions ahead of the sixth fight of Hardy’s professional career against Birmingham veteran Jason Nesbitt this Sunday at South Shields.
The Horden light-welterweight has made what would appear to be a perfect start to his career, reeling off five straight wins.
He had Matt Seawright, Chris Bennett and Lee Gibbons in trouble in his first three, which all ended in points victories, and then came his best display, a 40-36 success over the battle-hardened Ibrar Riyaz in Gateshead back in May.
But the 22-year-old failed to shine last time out and was flattered by a shut-out points victory over Jamie Zaszlos.
There are mitigating circumstances – the Barnsley boxer had a significant weight advantage - but Hardy had not been able to build on what he’d produced against Riyaz.
While Cope admits there is no indecent rush with the promising southpaw, he is looking for more from his boxer this weekend.
“Anth has loads of talent and we see it in here every day,” Cope said.
“Now, he’s got to take what he does in the gym into the ring.
“Anth is an absolute joy to train – he is a good professional, he’s fit, he runs, he does his diet right. He does everything asked of him.
“But he’s now in a position where he needs to impress in a fight.
“Anth has shown flashes of his ability, but he’ll have a couple of good rounds and then go off the boil.
“He can do it in the gym but he must do it in the ring.”
Hardy will not have it easy on Sunday.
Nesbitt is one of the sport’s most seasoned campaigners – he is approaching his 200th bout and has clocked up a staggering 988 rounds.
But while survival is the name of the game for a journeyman, the Birmingham welterweight cannot be taken lightly.
He gave Gary Fox a scare at the Rainton Meadows Arena when the Fishburn fighter was in his early days as a pro.
“If Anth is positive, boxes as he can and dominates the first round then Nesbitt will play it safe,” predicted Cope.
“But, if Anth gives him hope then he’ll have a go.”
Hardy is part of a three-pronged Gus Robinson Developments asssault at Temple Park.
Peter Cope boxes for the Northern Area lightweight championship when he meets Middlesbrough’s John Green.
Elder brother Daniel faces Hardy’s last opponent, Zaszlos, over four rounds.
Tickets are available from Anth on 07969 843203.