Cooke on the boil
Spend some time talking to Jordan Cooke and you’re likely to be left with the impression of an extremely confident young prospect with a maturity beyond his years.
The 21-year-old was in good spirits when Boxing Monthly spoke to him recently, and he has every reason to be. A perfect (5-0, 2 KOs) start to his professional career, which began almost one year ago, along with a spot on a Matchroom show and sparring some of the best lightweights in the UK had Cooke in a positive frame of mind ahead of his next outing on 19 September in Bedworth.
The Dave Coldwell prospect, trained by Jon Pegg and Paul Counihan, has heard the many whispers of ‘He’s one to watch’ but Cooke knows there is a long way to go.
“A lot of people say I'm one for the future and they can see the talent and the potential,” Cooke told BM. “I think I'm a top prospect but I know I've got to work hard and have loads of learning to do.”
With his 22nd birthday on the horizon, Cooke has plenty of time on his side which is thanks, in part, to his decision to turn professional early. After catching the boxing bug at eight-years-old, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and uncles, it would be three years later when Cooke would have his first fight.
Schoolboy semi-finals, schoolboy finals, junior finals, a junior national title and two ABA semi-final appearances - with a mix of the usual amateur boxing politics - gave Cooke just cause to ditch the vest and move up a league and join ranks with one of the sport’s rising promoters in Dave Coldwell.
“I'd already boxed in the ring for about nine going on ten years,” said Cooke. “I'd done my bit in the amateurs. First year, I went into the ABAs I was 18 and beat the defending champion Josh Leather. And, in the semis, I lost a really bad decision to a guy from the army. I entered that second year thinking I'm going to win the ABAs and I'll turn pro. With the bad decisions, having been around as an amateur a long time, I said to myself win the ABAs and get a good backing behind me. I lost to a good kid called Pat McCormack in the semi-finals. It was close each time but I'd had enough and thought I've gotta turn over now.”
Along with Coldwell and trainers Pegg and Counihan, there should be opportunities coming his way in the next year provided he keeps racking up the wins.
“Dave can open a lot of doors,” Cooke commented. “I told him what I wanted [when I signed]. He's already got me on a Matchroom show and I think he's got me on the next Matchroom show in Birmingham as well. He can deliver me title shots.”
That spot on Matchroom’s recent Birmingham show back in May saw Cooke box and defeat Liam Richards over four rounds. The fighter remains grateful to Richards after admitting that due to his height (somewhere between 5’10” and 6’0” according to Cooke), being a southpaw and having two stoppages on the trot opponents were not exactly banging on his door.
The spotlight that night might have belonged to Anthony Joshua, Sam Eggington, Luke Campbell and company, but that one non-televised appearance has given Cooke a glimpse of the big nights and he expects more to come in the near future.
“It was massive,” said Cooke on being part of that show. “Even when I fought, I was on really early, the place wasn’t full but you saw just how big the [Barclaycard] arena was. It just gave me a little taster of what's to come in the next 12 months or so. I want to get on more of them big shows.”
In the next year, Cooke fully expects to have captured an Area title and be challenging for the English strap. But at what weight? The West Midlander will have to decide whether his future lies at 130lbs or 135lbs. Cooke said that his next fight, an eight-rounder, has been made for the lightweight limit. “I'm walking around about 10 stone so just sort of testing the water at 9st 9lbs and see how that goes.”
Should it be at lightweight then Cooke, like his fight in Birmingham, has already had more than just a peek of what to expect after providing important sparring for lightweight contender Tommy Coyle and British champion Scotty Cardle.
“I sparred Scotty Cardle for his title shot against Craig Evans. For four to six weeks and got loads of experience from that,” he told BM. “I sparred Tommy Coyle for his fight with Luke Campbell for about three weeks. The lightweight division is a lot more competitive [than super-featherweight] but it doesn't really matter because once you get to a certain level you only get hard fights anyway. If you're good enough you'll go on and win them, if not you get found out. That's the way boxing works.”