An Interview With Jez Lynch and Billy Wingrove
By Dean Wigzell
Renowned for their football freestyling skills Jez Lynch and Billy Wingrove may not be names you’d naturally associate with the world of boxing but through their F2 Revolution management company, it is a world with which will they become very familiar.
After they announced the addition of the Yafai brother’s to their ranks I caught up with Jez and Billy to discuss all things boxing.
Let’s start with the obvious, you’re footballers so why the move into boxing?
“Well, as footballers we understand the demands of performing at a high level. We understand what it takes to keep your body in a place that’s ready to perform to the best of it’s ability and the effort that goes into that. You’ve seen fighters train. They work as hard, if not harder than any athletes on the planet and when they step through the ropes to perform, they do it solo and not only that, it’s one of very few sports where your life is on the line. How can you not respect that. If your a competitor, how can you not be passionate about that. It’s an amazing sport with amazing people and stories. That’s what we’re about”.
Who are your favourite fighters from the past?
“We certainly wouldn’t claim to be boxing historians. Over time we’ve developed a real love and passion for the sport. At the moment fighters like Lomachenko, Crawford, Canelo are top of most people’s list. For us, first getting connected to the sport, it was staying up and watching Lewis, Tyson, or Benn, Eubank but also seeing guys like Jones Jr and then Evander Holyfield at Heavyweight. Jones Jr was like a superhero! He did things that you had to rewind just to believe your eyes. His footwork, reactions, timing, speed, it was like watching something from The Matrix! Wouldn’t have mattered what he’d turned his hand to, he’d have been elite at it. A bit like when you watch Lomachenko now. Holyfield was a pure warrior, heart of a lion. Those fights, especially the first, with Bowe were something else. Such a great action fighter, with amazing shot selection, combinations and footwork. Every punch he threw seemed to have everything behind it. Loved watching him go to work”.
Having met the Yafai’s they seem like top guys, but what was it about them that lead to them becoming the first additions to the F2 boxing division?
“You’re right, they are top guys. Three of the easiest blokes you could hope to work with and we are so excited to be launching our boxing division with them. They ticked all the boxes we had for our division. We’ve got a great team that run the boxing side of the business and we all agreed they have a great story to tell. Three hard working brothers from Birmingham, all at different stages of their careers, all still to enter, or are just entering their peak, all with the ability to operate at the highest level of the game. They have a great image, they’re good on social. They fit everything that the F2 brand is about. And obviously, one of them’s a World Champion, so that’s pretty special and makes a big statement”.
How closely will you be working alongside Matchroom Boxing?
“We and our team have got the upmost respect for Eddie, Frank, Barry and everyone at Matchroom Boxing. What they are doing for the sport, not just in this country but globally, is phenomenal. Boxing is at an all time high and you could argue that Eddie, Frank and Matchroom Boxing are behind that. We’ll work as closely as they need or want us to. We’re here to support the work they’re doing with our fighters and by continuing to build our guys profile, hopefully help their end as well. But definitely, our team would love and hope to form a great working relationship with Matchroom moving forward”.
With Kal already a World Champion, how far off do you think Gamal is at the moment?
“Well, unfortunately Gamal had a nasty injury in his last fight on the Khan v Vargas card in Birmingham, so he won’t be in the ring again until the new year. But he put in a great performance that night, systematically breaking down his opponent and finishing him with an absolute worldy! Since the McDonnell loss he’s looked a different fighter. He obviously learnt a lot from that. Maybe that fight came a little too soon. Who knows. But he’s flying now. He’s still young and not even in his peak yet so there’s no rush and he can absolutely become World Champion. He wouldn’t be part of the division if we didn’t think he could be”.
Galal is obviously hoping to go to the 2020 Olympics, what role will you play in his build up to that?
“Support mainly. Getting his story out there. Creating great content on social for the general public to see, so they can get behind his journey. We want to help make his life as easy as possible on route to that tournament, as it’s the pinnacle of his amateur career. Wherever we can help, we will. That goes for all our fighters. We want to make sure our fighters aren’t just relevant when they’re fighting, but have a presence all year round. That’s the power of social media and that’s something that the F2 brand is a powerhouse in”.
There seems to have been some space opening up in the world of boxing for new faces. DAZN pushing for TV dominance, MTK Global have grown significantly. How far can F2 go in this new area?
“We’ve only just started! Give us a chance! But look, we probably have a very different strategy to all those you mentioned. We’re new, we’re about offering a very personal service. We’re a small team and at the moment, we want a small list. As we said it’s about how we use our experience on social to help build profile, content and subsequently make our fighters even more appealing to audiences and brands, which in turn boosts their tickets sales and demand. And with near 20million social media followers across all platforms, we’re uniquely placed to do that. Without question we want to grow, but we want to make sure we can always offer the best service to the clients we have”.
Will we see either of you lacing up the Gloves at any point?
“Never say never. We’d be lying if we said it’s not been discussed. It’s an interesting time at the moment for YouTube influencers and the world of boxing. Maybe we’ll throw our hat into the ring. With the boxing division now launched, we’ve certainly got world class teachers available. Watch this space”.