Outspoken UK trainer Ben Davison has shown both the good and bad of being a young man in an old man’s game, writes Elliot Worsell
ONE of the great things about being young is that you are ambitious, full of both ideas and hope, and have yet to have your expectations checked or your limitations exposed. The trade-off, however, is that you invariably say and do things you will later attribute to the ignorance of youth.
At 29 years of age, talented trainer Ben Davison is young, particularly for a trainer, and projects a refreshing approach to the sport, both in terms of his analytical eye and his self-confidence. An approach fuelled as much by ego as education, Davison has, historically, had no issue telling people how good his fighter is, nor, for that matter, how good he, as a coach, is.
It’s an attitude that riles plenty, those who prefer their coaches to be seen and not heard, yet it has elevated Davison above many of his peers and helped fill his stable with myriad high-achieving UK boxers. It also, it seems, shows no sign of abating.
“I feel like the level of coaching is poor in this country,” Davison told the BBC’s 5 Live podcast on Tuesday. “They’re lazy – that’s the reality of it. I outwork them – that’s the reality of it.
“They may have 30 or 40 years on me but the amount of time I spend studying the sport, my fighters, the opponents, it’s unrivalled work.”
Depending on your view of Davison, and his work, comments such as that one will strike you either as the confident words of a top-level trainer or the boasts of a delusional braggart. Regardless, Davison, a former amateur boxer, makes most sense in the gym and in the corner, where in recent years he has been instructing the likes of Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders, Josh Taylor, Leigh Wood, and Lee McGregor.
Indeed, it cannot be denied that Davison has achieved a lot in a short space of time. It was, after all, only in 2016 that he appeared out of the blue in Saunders’ corner during a lacklustre Saunders win against Artur Akavov. That night, Davison faced criticism for the advice he issued in Saunders’ corner and his inability to motivate Saunders and drag from him something resembling a performance. Yet now, five years on, with many more fights under his belt and many more fighters under his arm, Davison, who has not experienced defeat as a coach since 2016, hears mostly praise.
“I’ve been able to fast track as a coach,” he said. “But if all these other guys who have been coaching for 30 or 40 years were good enough they’d be here.”
As for where Davison can next be seen, that will be Glasgow, Scotland on February 24, when he corners super-lightweight king Josh Taylor in a title defence against Jack Catterall. He will no doubt be heard from before that, though, with Davison destined to do many more interviews, promoting both his fighter and himself, and saying, in the process, many things that will ruffle the feathers of those who like their trainers to be observant rather than outspoken. He will also, one suspects, come to realise the power of quiet confidence, something men tend to acquire only with time, and with experience, and with – most crucial of all – adversity.