JIM WATT believes that the Commonwealth Games gold medallist Charlie Flynn’s much-heralded entry into the professional ranks, on the Morrison Promotions’ show at the Thistle Hotel on Sunday night, is exactly what the Scottish fight game needs.
The former World Boxing Council lightweight champion believes that, with Ricky Burns’ career in apparently terminal decline and Willie Limond in the autumn of his career, the Scottish professional game is badly in need of an injection of youthful brio.
While Watt has no doubt that Flynn has a skill-set that could one day result in the Lanark 21-year-old following in his footsteps, and those of Burns, by becoming a world champion.
At the outset of Flynn’s professional career, Watt’s words of praise may seem premature but the former world champion has no doubt that the youngster’s memorable performance in securing Commonwealth Games lightweight gold in front of an expectant Glasgow crowd is tangible proof that he has the temperament to take the hype in his stride and go all the way to emeritus level.
“I have no doubt that Charlie will make a great addition to the pro game,” said Watt. “He is exactly what Scottish boxing needs right now: a real character with a personality that is infectious and bubbles over. But he also has loads of ability and a style that is almost ready-made for the professional game. Right now, with Ricky Burns and Willie Limond coming to the end of their careers, Charlie’s timing in turning professional is perfect for him and Scottish boxing.
“If you look at his last fight, in the final of the Commonwealth Games, Charlie has shown great temperament, a full ranges of punches and good movement, so he has all the tools he needs to make it in the professional game.
“I also think making his debut at the Thistle on Sunday is a shrewd move by Alex Morrison (Flynn’s manager); it is a nice size of promotion for Charlie to be turning pro on and, importantly, it is in Scotland. It should give him the perfect launch-pad.”
Morrison has already stated publicly he believes his new prodigy can claim global success in two years’ time yet, while Watt is a bit more cautious in his projections of timescale, he nonetheless remains convinced that a fine career is about to unfold.
“A timescale of two years is maybe a bit ambitious but Charlie has everything he needs to make that journey and the type of exciting style that will make him a very popular boxer,” said Watt, who was also a former British and European lightweight champion
“We know that we need a new kid on the block – an exciting young fighter coming through to fly the flag for Scottish boxing – and I have no doubt that Charlie is the kid who can do that. He has the talent to go all the way and I like the way he has real belief in himself.”
Watt is just as convinced that Flynn, who will face the English journeyman Ibrar Riyaz on his professional debut on Sunday night, has made the right move by using his golden moment at the Commonwealth Games to enter the paid ranks with his profile at its highest.
The 66-year-old said: “There comes a stage in every amateur’s career when he has to decide whether to turn professional and, with Charlie having won the Commonwealth Games gold medal, the time to make that decision was in its aftermath. In my opinion, the only option was to turn pro.
“You don’t get a much stronger bargaining position than when you have a gold medal around your neck and, by signing with Alex Morrison and Eddie Hearn, Charlie has guaranteed himself to be boxing on the big TV shows around the country.
“If you look at the way Anthony Joshua, the Olympic heavyweight gold medallist, has been developed by Eddie Hearn since he turned pro, then you have a perfect template for how they will bring Charlie along.”