Gareth Johnson heaped praise on Charlie Riccard after his pro kickboxing debut defeat.
The Gym 01 charge delivered a game performance in his loss to Josh Bishop in the main event of Shock N Awe: Contenders IV.
Holding a 2-1-1 amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) record, Riccard took a step out of his comfort zone at Southsea’s Pyramids Centre.
Bishop had significantly more experience heading into the bout, bragging a record of 5-1.
Riccard showed his quality by winning a round but ultimately fell to a unanimous-decision reverse in the 61kg contest.
The former University of Portsmouth student picked up a foot injury two weeks before the affair, however, which underlined the quality of his performance.
He’s back in action when he returns to the MMA realm against Billy Clarke at Shock N Awe 29 at Portsmouth Guildhall on March 15.
And Johnson feels Riccard’s kickboxing outing should augur well his upcoming affair.
Gym 01’s head coach said: ‘Josh came up to us afterwards and said “I was not expecting that”.
‘Charlie hurt his foot two weeks out so he couldn’t spar and was on a cross trainer.
‘I’d done everything I could with him up until that point.
‘I knew he would give a very good account of himself but wasn’t sure how much Josh had progressed since his last fight a year ago.
‘All credit to Josh, he was very game and has definitely improved since I’ve last seen footage of him.
‘Charlie took that fight to keep busy and took on a guy with six pro kickboxing fights to his zero.
‘It wasn’t a 30-27 win for Josh as Charlie took a round, there was a close round and then Josh took a round.
‘I’ve been working with Charlie for about seven weeks and changed his style up, which I was really impressed with.
‘Josh was game as well and has improved.
‘Charlie just wants to get better and there’s no better way to do that than test yourself against people you shouldn’t test yourself with.’