PORTSMOUTH has a world-class boxer in the making.
That’s the verdict of boxing legend Barry McGuigan, who has tipped Josh Pritchard to box for titles at the pinnacle of the sport after turning professional.
The Purbrook puncher made an exciting start to his career last month.
The 20-year-old caught the eye with a four-round points win over Hungarian Aron Szilagyi in Belfast.
That was on the undercard to sparring partner Carl Frampton’s world title defence against American Chris Avalos.
The multi-national finalist and England international has been handed a dream move into the paid ranks with McGuigan’s CWM Cyclone stable.
McGuigan remains one of the noble art’s biggest names after a stellar career which took him to world glory.
And the Irishman is convinced that is the level Pritchard belongs at.
‘We identified Josh as someone with potential after he sparred with Carl before the Kiko Martinez world-title fight,’ said McGuigan.
‘We thought “wow” who is this kid?
I’m not looking at British and European championships - I’m looking beyond that.Barry McGuigan
‘There’s a lot to work on and there is a long road ahead of him if he becomes the best he can be.
‘But there is great potential and I believe he can go a very long way.
‘I’m not looking at British and European championships – I’m looking beyond that.
‘That’s how seriously I’m taking Josh Pritchard.
‘This kid belongs with the highest calibre boxers. He is a proper athlete, without a doubt.
‘He chose boxing and boxing should be glad he did that.
‘By the time his career has finished, if he hasn’t won a world title, he would have certainly fought for one.
‘I don’t want to put a time-frame on Josh achieving it.
‘All I want to do is extrapolate the very best out of him.
‘At the end of the day, when he is in his dotage, I want him to say the McGuigans made me better than I ever thought I could be.
‘That’s the objective.’
McGuigan’s assessment of Pritchard’s potential is borne out of the youngster’s work in the ring with top-line boxers.
The former Moneyfields man impressed in sparring with Frampton, as well as his sessions with world-ranked Mexican Horatio Garcia.
And that underlined to McGuigan the talent Pritchard possesses.
‘When he sparred with Carl half a dozen times before the Kiko Martinez fight I could see this kid is very special,’ added McGuigan.
‘He’s bigger than Frampton and will campaign at featherweight and, potentially, super-featherweight.
‘Carl batters welterweights but we thought Josh gave a very good account of himself.
‘Before his debut contest he had three weeks of the best sparring you could get.
‘He handled himself very well against world-rated opposition.
‘He sparred with Horatio Garcia and Miguel Gonzalez.
‘The reality is Josh was getting the better of Horatio Garcia every single day.
‘This guy is number eight in the world with the WBC.
‘He’s knocked out 22 of his opponents. Horatio didn’t win one round with him.
‘Josh dominated every spar across three weeks he worked with him. That reinforced what I already knew.
‘I think he can be the full package.’