Callum Beardow: ‘I think if ever I were to be able to box at Bramall Lane it would be the highlight for me.’
By Oliver McManus
Sheffield starlet Callum Beardow has forged an iron reputation in the Steel City since an early age.
Well touted as an amateur, formerly an English champion, he turned to the paid ranks last year having inked a managerial contract with Dave Coldwell.
A postponed, debut arrived against Elvis Dube in July. Headlining that event, at Rotherham’s Magna Centre, was Terri Harper in her IBO world title fight: small hall but big time glitz.
Reflecting on that night, Beardow could have no complaints:
“It was a really sweet moment, to be honest, because the aim had always been to be a professional. When you walk into a gym as a teenager you don’t set your eyes on amateur titles – mainly because you don’t know that much about it – but it’s always that carrot of being a professional that you’re chasing. When I made that debut it was absolutely brilliant: I got put on a four rounder and I’d sold about 250 tickets, got the slot before Terri and you can’t ask for much more than that in terms of atmosphere.”
All the more enjoyable for the back-story of Beardow. Full of promise as an amateur there were serious concerns that he’d never be able to box again when, around five years ago, the youngster was forced out of action with a serious shoulder problem.
Unwittingly that period of uncertainty prepared the 24 year old well for the country’s current situation.
“I’d been out for about two and half years with three operations on my shoulder and I couldn’t compete. Without thinking about it those frustrations have probably prepared me for the times we’re leaving in at the moment: I didn’t really know what was going on then or the route to getting things better so I’ve had those mental frustrations and I am more resilient now. It’s all about having a routine and just staying busy, for me, keeping myself ready to box and ready to go whenever we’re told it’s safe to resume.”
On an everyday basis there were those perennial doubts nagging away in the light-heavyweight’s head. Whilst he had always believed he would return to the ring there were, unquestionably, periods were that hope began to slip away.
“There were moments where I felt as though that dream was over but, in my head, I always knew I’d have a career in boxing. Now at times when my shoulder just didn’t feel like getting better we’d start talking about getting involved with the coaching aspect a little more: I was stubborn, though, and I always wanted to get back in the ring. My shoulder is alright, now, it’s good enough and it can still punch people in the face so that’s good enough for me.”
Having returned from numerous surgeries, Beardow was able to compete as an amateur for another couple of years before turning over.
In those two years the Sheffield fighter was able to rack up invaluable experiences and, he says, it was the first time he really began to think he could make something as a professional.
“I think the moment I really felt I could become a professional boxer was towards the end of my amateur career when I got to the ABA semi-final. It was my first year and I’d lost to Bryce Goodridge who was about 6ft7’ and the other end of the scale for light-heavyweights so that was going to be a challenging fight and I hadn’t really expected to get that far, either.
“The next year was similar, I got to the final, but I’d had a couple of split decisions on the way which I’d felt I’d won quite comfortably. The only thing I could do better was to win but in my head I was aware that if I waited that extra year and one of those split decisions went against me and I’d be frustrated, I wouldn’t be in a positive place to turn pro.”
Even in those twilight years as amateur there was a feeling that there was something special in the kid they called Vanilla Gorilla.
Coach Brendan Warburton did an excellent job of refining Beardow’s ability and they carry that relationship into the professional game. Dave Coldwell hopped on board as a manager and, for his 24 yrar old protege, it’s a perfect combination.
“If it weren’t for Dave I wouldn’t have got on that Matchroom show (a four round contest in Sheffield) so he’s a great manager and has been bang on since we met. Any help that I need, he’ll be there, and he can open a few doors with those connections so it’s great to work with him. And it’s a small thing but for him to get involved this early on in my career certainly helps the confidence and shows the direction he believes I’m going in.”
“I think even when I’m winning I do find it hard to heap praise on myself because I’m obsessed about improving with each fight. I will focus on those little bits that I didn’t think quite went my way and sometimes it does leave Brendan having to say ‘hang on, Callum, you did a good job.”
Beardow, who moved 2-0 with that win over Pawel Martyniuk, is full of confidence for the future – despite how unpredictable the current climate is. It’s not just a confidence in his own ability and his personal potential but an optimism for the state of British boxing as a whole.
Much has been said about the quality of cards and those criticisms remain valid but, for young fighters, they really are spoiled for choice when looking to turn professional.
“I’m really excited for boxing in Sheffield but I think that applies to the whole country. There’s so many more opportunities now for fighters coming through that it’s not just Eddie, Frank or no-one. Look at the small hall scene and, I don’t know how this pandemic will change that, but there’s been so many more fighters being given a chance to prove themselves: Stefy Bull has been great with me but you’ve got MTK, promoters in London, the Midlands, Lancashire, and they’re all treating fighters well and getting them opportunities. It’s a great time to be involved.”
The lifelong Sheffield United was straight forward in revealing his ambitions. Of course to become a champion in his own right but, away from the titles, you won’t be surprised to hear he’s got his eye on lighting up Bramall Lane.
“European nights at Bramall Lane, midweek, and hopefully over the next few years we might be able to see a big fight night at the stadium. I won’t even mind if it’s not me headlining! I think if ever I were to be able to box at Bramall Lane it would be the highlight for me, whatever I achieve.”