British boxers show no fear ahead of Olympics

PUBLISHED: 14:31 01 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:32 26 October 2009

British boxer Billy Joe Saunders

British boxer Billy Joe Saunders

HATFIELD fighter Billy Joe Saunders forms part of the strongest British boxing squad to attend the Olympics in years. Team GB s boxers go into their Beijing 2008 campaign fearing no-one, says team leader Terry Edwards. Edwards guides the British squad int

HATFIELD fighter Billy Joe Saunders forms part of the strongest British boxing squad to attend the Olympics in years.

Team GB's boxers go into their Beijing 2008 campaign fearing no-one, says team leader Terry Edwards.

Edwards guides the British squad into battle for the third Games in a row and aims to build on the team's successes at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.

Audley Harrison won the super heavyweight gold in Sydney 2000, then Amir Khan fought his way to silver in the lightweight division in Athens four years ago.

The eight-strong British boxing team in Beijing is the largest Team GB has taken to an Olympic Games since Barcelona in 1992.

Edwards refuses to get carried away about the team's prospects, but says they have a winning mentality and fear nobody - and that includes Hoddesdon Boxing Academy product Saunders in the welterweight division.

"I think as a team of boxers this is possibly the most talented group I've worked with," said Edwards.

"We've come out here with realistic prospects.

"In the last couple of years we've boxed some of the very best boxers in the world and beaten them.

"The mindset of my team is that we have a winning mentality.

"Once upon a time British teams showed their opponents too much respect and fear.

"We still show them respect, but we fear nobody. We've turned the tables around."

Edwards added: "A lot of coaches don't want to get British boxers in the draw now, in the same way as they may not want Cubans and Russians."

But there are still plenty of unknowns, especially for Hatfield teenager Billy Joe, who had initially been earmarked for the 2012 London Olympics.

The draw for the boxing competition takes place on Saturday, August 9, with the first bouts in the middleweight and light middleweight divisions taking place later that day.

Billy Joe first steps into the Olympic ring on Sunday, August 10.

"The draw is unseeded, so you can get anybody in the first bouts," said Edwards. "But if we get a reasonable draw and our boxers box up to their potential, I'm optimistic we can acquit ourselves well."

It will still be a massive step up in class for Herts hitman Saunders, who lives on a travellers' site on the outskirts of Hatfield.

Edward said: "It's a big learning curve. The pressure of an Olympic Games is tremendous, but that's something for me and my staff to manage.

"We've got a tremendously talented team that has come through the juniors and has now progressed to the seniors.

"I like to keep our feet on the ground and not make silly predications at this stage because it's all about how they perform on the day."

He added: "But it's a very exciting camp at the moment and there's a tremendous buoyancy within the team.

"Everybody is healthy and fit; we're just waiting to go now."

Edwards is optimistic that a large proportion of the team will stay amateur after Beijing so they can contest their home Games in 2012.

The British boxers are currently training at the Team GB Preparation Camp in Macau, before transferring to Beijing for the Games next week.

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