NEWLY-crowned Ring Magazine trainer of the year Joe Gallagher believes Bolton is now firmly on the world boxing map.
Big cities like London, Manchester and Sheffield were once the focus of the UK boxing scene, but «little old» Bolton has muscled in.
With heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury training at his base in Halliwell and two world title holders fighting out of Gallagher’s Gym less than two miles away at Gloves Community Centre on Prince Street, Bolton can boast its association with three current global kings.
And with Amir Khan lining up a blockbuster Las Vegas fight for the WBC middleweight title against Saul Canelo Alvarez in May, it could get even better.
It is a fact that makes Mancunian Gallagher proud, having moved his base to the town four years ago.
And he believes every Boltonian should be filled with that same amount of pride.
He told The Bolton News: «I am not sure if the people in Bolton realise what a fantastic sporting achievement it is.
«I know the football team isn’t doing as good as it has in the past but Bolton should be very proud a lot of top fighters are based here and train here.
«When the Americans look over to England for hotbeds of boxing they used to think of Sheffield where the Ingles were for years, Manchester with the Ricky Hatton era, Cardiff for the likes of Joe Calzaghe, London with your (Alan) Minters and (Frank) Brunos over the years.
«Now Bolton is the leading fight town in the UK and on the world stage as well.
«You have the heavyweight champion of the world based here, a world light middleweight champion and a world lightweight champion. Before Scott Quigg’s loss to Carl Frampton we also had a world super bantamweight champion.
«Then you have Amir Khan going for the world middleweight title.
«Four world champions out of two gyms literally a mile-and-a-half apart – that is some going.
«There must be something in the water in Bolton.
«It’s a fantastic period.»
Gallagher is pleased to play his part in Bolton’s boxing domination but admits his move from Manchester came by chance after a surprise call from Amir’s father Shah.
He explained: «I was based in Denton in Billy Graham’s old gymnasium.
«Ricky Hatton was there and we were there for a while.
«The sponsorship of the gymnasium stopped and we moved out.
«We were looking for new premises and I got a phone call from Shah out of the blue one day.
«He said ‘we’ve got a facility if you want to bring the boys here’.
«Amir grew up boxing alongside the likes of Anthony Crolla and Stephen Smith on young England and schoolboy trips and knew them.
«It was nice of him to invite us here and it feels like home now.
«We have been here four years and it’s a fantastic facility.
«It works well for us. Sometimes I pop in now and again and have a coffee with Shah and pick his brains.
«Amir is always around, seeing the lads and doing a bit of training so it works really well for us.»
It is not just Gallagher’s fighters who are benefitting, either.
The 47-year-old says the success of boxers in the town can only inspire youngsters in the area to become the next Bolton superstar.
He said: «There are a lot of kids at Tyson’s gym and that’s busy down there.
«Then there is Gloves ABC which is also busy.
«It’s fantastic to see youngsters use such a great facility in Bolton and to be inspired by the professional boxers.
«How can you not be when you see the likes of Tyson Fury and Scott Quigg becoming champions and Anthony Crolla coming off his death bed to win a world title.
«Amir is making big waves in America as well as he has for some time.
«It all bodes well for continued boxing success in Bolton.»