TWO-TIME British title challenger James Beech Jnr hopes to reach a stage in his career where he can pick who he fights.

The 26-year-old isn’t the type to shirk a challenge and since losing to Brad Foster in 2020 there is clear evidence of that. But with each defeat (five in 21 fights) the climb up the featherweight rankings becomes more difficult for Beech. And in the career of the Walsall fighter, he has had to take big opportunities against a specific type of fighter which he confesses to struggling against.

“I’ve never been good at boxing southpaws. If it was down to me, I would have avoided them, I’ve lost to them four times,” Beech said.

Southpaws have been the bane of Beech’s career since 2021. His four defeats came against those who fight out of an unorthodox stance. Chris Bourke, Dennis McCann, Nathaniel Collins and Hopey Price have all gotten the upper hand on Beech, but the painter and decorator isn’t in a position to pick and choose.

“I ain’t got that luxury. Like everyone in the boxing game, they know I struggle with them. It’s probably why I get the fights against them. I can’t turn it down though, they’re big opportunities.”

Fighting on Queensberry or Matchroom shows – in front of television cameras and for a better payday – would be hard for anyone to say no to. This Saturday at Belfast’s legendary Ulster Hall, live on DAZN, Beech gets the chance to fight an orthodox fighter. Ireland’s unbeaten featherweight Kurt Walker.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games Silver Medallist and 2020 Tokyo Olympian is unbeaten in 10 professional starts with nine going the distance. Walker, 29, has lost barely any rounds from the 59 he has boxed and will be aiming to deal with Walsall’s Beech in a similar fashion to the way Price, Collins and McCann did previously. But from facing fighters with losing records such as Angelo Turco and Darwing Martinez to someone of Beech’s credentials is a test that Walker’s own needs.

“I know he was a top amateur,” Beech says of his opponent.

“He ain’t done much yet as a pro but he’s a good lad. He’s good, he’s sharp. He’s a nice, tidy boxer.”

Motivation is easy for Beech this time around. In December 2023 he had his hand raised in victory by referee Ryan Churchill having defeated Liam Richards – who fought for the 105th time on the night – over four rounds. Call it a tick-over fight, call it a confidence booster, but these type of fights are ones Beech would rather avoid.

“I struggle to get up for them whereas now my head’s clear,” Beech explained.

“I’m going in there [on] March 30 and really believe I’m gonna win. I’m feeling good. I boxed in December, just a tick-over against Liam Richards to build some confidence up and keep busy. But my head ain’t in the same place for those fights compared with the work I’ve put in this camp.”

For this camp Beech has been able to take two days off per week from his day job to assist in his preparations for facing Walker.

“I’m just working three days a week. I own a house, so it keeps me ticking over with the bills.”

Beech wants the big fights and big opportunities to roll on. Giving Brad Foster a testing night’s work – during Covid – in July 2020 for the British super-bantamweight title looked like being a springboard for the challenger. His second crack at a Lonsdale belt came in March last year when Beech travelled north to Glasgow to take on Nathaniel Collins for the vacant British featherweight title. The heavy-handed Scot ended matters in the seventh round with a body shot.

Three months earlier Beech picked up the biggest win of his career defeating Raza Hamza over 10 rounds in Coventry. Getting back in the win column is becoming necessary for Beech who told BN he will keep fighting until he isn’t enjoying it anymore. But that wouldn’t be the only reason to hang up the gloves.

“I’d give it up if the money was to become shit and I was getting offered six-rounders against prospects and ended up becoming a journeyman,” he said.

Beech is confident, fit and because of that isn’t worried about how many shots he will have to throw in the ring Belfast on Saturday night. His effort will never be in doubt and facing another orthodox fighter should elevate his performance as it did against Foster and Hamza. His hunger for tough fights is admirable and boxing is better off having fighters with the appetite of James Beech Jr.

“Hopefully I do the business on March 30,” he said.

“And I might be able to pick my fights rather than take the daft southpaw fights which I know I shouldn’t take anyway. But it’s about taking the right fights instead of taking all the big ones that come up.”