Hull fighter Sam Wilkinson's ready to rumble in a ring or cage
DUAL fighter Sam Wilkinson is facing the biggest challenge of his sporting career as he prepares for two massive bouts.
The 19-year-old is training at St Paul's gym for the ABA finals in November, combining it with preparing for his next cage-fighting contest before Christmas.
Having started his fighting career in the caged environment five years ago, Wilkinson has also boxed for the past two years.
He says that decision has helped his career in the cage – and should he secure the boxing title he craves, he will focus purely on his cage-fighting.
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"I always wanted to train in a boxing gym and training at St Paul's has helped me in my cage-fighting career," Wilkinson told the Mail.
"I always thought I could be an okay boxer, not a great one, but I've always wanted to win a national boxing title.
"If I can do that, then I will switch my attentions to cage-fighting, because I feel I can be great at this sport."
Wilkinson, who trains at the MDMA gym in Hull, under coach Andrew Hazel, will compete in his first fight at the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) level before the new year.
Fighting under the NSAC rules allows the competitors to attack their opponents heads whilst on the ground, and Wilkinson is confident he can make the step-up to the 'ground and pound' game.
"I feel I have all the attributes to achieve my cage-fighting goals," he said.
"Stepping up to NSAC will benefit my game. I'll have more freedom to do what I want to do in the cage.
"My style is suited to wrestling and the team I have been working with are the best at that.
"My trainers have been great and they have got me at the top of my game.
"I'm ready for the fight, although I don't know who I'll be fighting yet."
Wilkinson admits switching from boxing to cage-fighting can be tough mentally as well as physically.
But despite being the Total Combat British Bantamweight semi-professional and the 10th Legion Bantamweight champion, he says he still has plenty to learn.
"With every training and sparring session I do, I am getting more and more comfortable," he said.
"My first fight was a shock to my system. I had four fights in one day and had never known such nerves.
"Ever since I have done everything possible to make sure I'm ready."