Brighouse boxer Jimmy First believes that he can still compete with the best as he enters his fifth professional contest at the age of 37.
The undefeated super lightweight prospect takes a 4-0 record to the Bradford Hotel (formerly Norfolk Gardens) on Saturday for a show headlined by the homecoming of WBO European champion Darren Tetley.
Having turned professional last June at 36, time isn’t on First’s side, although he’s confident in his abilities to mix it with his younger counterparts.
“I’m still learning all of the time and feeling strong,” he said. “I spar with guys that are 22 years of age and I can stand up with them all day long.
“At the minute, age is just a number to me.
“I do still feel that I can more than compete against younger guys. Obviously, I have got to look at things realistically and I don’t want to be taking whacks to the head after the age of 40.
“But, I still feel that I’m improving with every training session and your head movement comes with that.
“Don’t get it wrong, it’s a tough old sport that I’ve got myself into. Maybe I should have taken up chess or table tennis instead!”
First, originially from Hipperholme and now living in Hove Edge, had his first experience of a boxing fight at the age of 29, whilst representing Halifax ABC.
“I got into boxing very late in life,” explains First. “I didn’t walk into a boxing gym until I was 27 years old and after a couple of years of training, I had my first amateur fight at the age of 29.
“I ended up having 26 fights as an amateur for Halifax ABC, under Mick Rowe and Robert Paradise, who were good coaches and really good guys.
“Then, Chris Aston, my current manager and trainer, said to me that my style was very pro style. At that time, I’d only had about 13 amateur fights and I didn’t feel like I’d had enough experience.
“Eventually, I had to scratch the itch, and I decided to turn pro at the age of 36, otherwise I would have regretted it for the rest of my life and I’m certainly glad that I’ve done so.”
Facing First next Saturday is the 50-fight veteran Lee Connelly, someone who First sees as a step up in opposition.
“Lee Connolly’s a really experienced professional,” added First. “He’s been in the ring with Luke Campbell, Sean Dodd, Joe Cordina and Glenn Foot, all fighters who have won titles.
“For me, I see it as a step up fight and it’s another fight that’s going to take us a step closer to where we want to be. I’m preparing for a full on war.”