He may not have the reputation of the likes of Charlie Edwards, Kevin Satchell, or Lee Haskins but Tommy Frank [9(1)-0] is a “top level” fighter in the making and will prove too much for Luke Wilton tonight.
Indeed, he may even score a win inside the distance against the experienced Ulsterman.
That’s the belief of the English prospect and his team ahead of the Commonwealth super flyweight title clash at the Ponds Forge Arena in Frank’s native Sheffield.
Belfast’s Wilton [20(7)-5(1)-1] has stepped in to replace Ross Murray in the Dennis Hobson-promoted and Freesports-broadcast bill having gotten active in recent months following a year-and-a-half out of the ring.
Team Frank believe they have sourced a strong opponent, with coach Glynn Rhodes urging caution while the fighter himself salivates at the thought of a step-up.
Rhodes is aware ‘Winky’ is a jump in levels for his charge and understands why some might suggest it’s a jump to soon for the 25-year-old.
However, the coach points out that Wilton has come undone any time he has stepped up.
“Luke is far more experienced but has always failed when it comes to top level, and Tommy is a top-level fighter,” Rhodes explained.
“So, hopefully on the night it’ll work out okay. Luke is a come forward fighter, he’ll make a fight of it, and that’s exactly what we want.”
“I think it’ll be great to watch because Tommy is a smart fighter, and Luke is a typical Irish fighter that comes forward. It’ll gel to make a great TV fight,” he added before admitting his fighter isn’t in for an easy night.
“This is a very tough fight for Tommy. Luke is a tough kid, he’s been in with far more experienced fighters than Tommy has, and he’s only really lost to the best kids.”
“It could be a banana skin fight for us. People have said, if you win all well and good, but if you lose you’ve put him in too early. But at what point do you let a guy off the leash? At Tommy’s weight, it’s not like you can pick and choose because there aren’t that many guys around.”
As well as being experienced, Wilton has also proved he is tough. The only person to stop him was former bantamweight world champion Lee Haskins and that stoppage came as the Belfast man jumped up in weight to take a short-notice shot.
With that in mind, and the fact Frank has yet to prove himself as a fighter with power, the home puncher looks certain to at the very least be in for a long night.
However, despite having just a solitary KO victory on his nine-fight record, the little man will soon start finishing more opponents early according to his trainer Rhodes.
The well-regarded coach explained how “Tommy’s power isn’t an issue. In the gym, he’s punching really hard. So you say to yourself, ‘why isn’t he knocking guys out’?”
“The reason being that he just hasn’t got the confidence yet to plant his feet. It’s been safety-first tactics up to now, which I can understand because he’s only had nine fights.”
“He has only stopped one guy but trust me he can punch hard. I’m not saying he’s a one-hit puncher but once he gets the confidence to stand and let his shots go, he’ll start stopping a few kids.”
Frank himself believes 30-year-old Wilton will play into his hands and allow him to show his power.
The Yorkshireman outlined how “I never make predictions, my only prediction is to win the fight but because he’s going to come and give his all, it will be ideal for me to let my hands go a bit more.”
“The better the opponent in front of me – the better I’ll be.”
“With those 8oz gloves on, when I hit him, I’ll hurt him, one hundred per cent. We’ll see how the fight goes, I’ll be prepared for 12 rounds but if I catch him, I will hurt him.”
Frank is aware of the need for ‘names’ on his record and the Central Area champion sees value in Wilton as an opponent.
“He’s a good fighter and I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” noted Frank.
“Luke is a well-known fighter, he’s boxed at a top level and apart from a couple of early career defeats, he’s only been beaten by good kids. So, it would be a great name to have on my record, and it will make people sit up and see what I’m all about.”
“Luke will give it a real go because this might be his last push at really doing something in boxing. So, he’s going to really want this title, but that will be perfect for me.
“He’ll come and give it a real go, but will be going home disappointed.”