Having felt the full force of the Covid-19 pandemic, Billericay’s rising boxing star George Liddard is itching to make up for lost time and announce himself on the senior international stage.
The 18-year-old (19 on May 30) took his first steps in the ring ten years ago, following in the footsteps of father Terry who had shown signs of boxing talent himself in his younger days.
Despite giving it a go merely to build confidence shy schoolboy Liddard was instantly hooked, and an appearance in the final of his first ever National Schools Championships on his 13th birthday provided an indication of his natural ability.
Since then then the Billericay and Wickford ABC native has gone on to clinch four national titles and two international gold medals, and had been in line for appearances at the European and World Youth Championships until Covid-19 put paid to those plans.
Besides being hit with the frustration of missing out on a shot at a maiden international major Liddard was bed-ridden with the virus last winter, but having struggled mentally and physically he is now fighting back to his best form.
“I’ve found it tough at times over the last year or so,” admitted Liddard. “Missing the Europeans was pretty gutting – it was going to be my first real break out on the European scene, and I was in the best shape of my life.
“I fell into a bit of a rut. I’m quite goal-orientated and with nothing coming up and no end in sight I struggled. I wasn’t training, I was eating bad food, and not being able to box got to me.
“I got out running and did some work on the pads with my dad, and just as I was getting fit I caught Covid myself. I was quite ill in bed for a good three or four days, which set me back quite a bit.
“But I believe everything happens for a reason and I’ve been working hard behind the scenes for a while now. I’m my harshest critic so I always think I can improve, but things are on the horizon and I’m getting sharper with each passing day.”
Liddard’s career in the ring is fuelled by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, which provides vital funding for training, travel, equipment and access to mentoring.
Europeans disappointment was somewhat compounded by an invitation to trial for the GB pathway, which could put Liddard – who balances his sporting commitments with working as an accounts manager for National Windscreens – on course for an appearance at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
A three-year unbeaten streak in the amateur ranks has given him confidence he can indeed mix it with the world’s best going forward, but regardless of his short-term fortunes Liddard is aiming to turn professional at some stage.
He added: “If I do well at the GB trials I’ll become an academy boxer, which will involve training up in Sheffield a few times a week and travelling to international competitions. As well as that I’ve got my first senior fight coming up in Devon in August.
“Paris is certainly my aim. Whether that happens or not will probably determine when I go pro – I’ve got to give it a shot at some point because that’s the way you establish yourself as the best in the world.
“I’d love to follow in the footsteps of someone like Canelo Álvarez. We’ve had very different journeys in the sport but he’s someone I look up to. I’d love to be able to fight like him, and with hard work I believe I should be able to.”