In An Age Where Almost Every Fight Is Televised/Streamed, It’s A Real Shame That A Talent Like Nathaniel Collins Is Still Off TV
As I embarked on my journey from the Scottish Capital, making the quick hop across to the largest city north of the border on a beautiful March afternoon on Friday. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the Kynoch Promotions show at the Thistle Hotel. Were the rumors of a world-level fighter stuck on the small hall circuit true? Or was he just another flash in the pan?
You hear a lot of hyperbolic language used in the sport of boxing, especially from members of the community with close allegiances to the fighters they are describing. The majority of the time this is simply excitement from explosive displays against overmatched opposition.
The fighter in question on Friday of last weekend was Commonwealth Featherweight Champion, Nathaniel Collins. A relatively unknown quantity in the mainstream consciousness of the British boxing public, with the only real recognition of the Glasgow man being an ill-fated scheduled bout with danger man and top Queensberry Promotions prospect Nick Ball, in July 2022. The fight ultimately fell through despite being announced, with both sides telling different tales as to why.
The career of Collins had been built up in the small halls, and obscure live streams picking up Celtic, and Commonwealth titles on the way. Collins even managed to headline a show on the pitch at the home of Hamilton Academical FC, New Douglas Park in the summer of 2021. You’d have been forgiven for not taking much notice of Collins at this point. After all, there must’ve been a reason why one of the ‘Big 4’ TV promoters hadn’t picked him up, right?
This, quite honestly, was my opinion of ‘The Nightmare’ on Friday afternoon as I prepared to cover the untelevised show, that didn’t even have a YouTube live stream. Believing he was a solid domestic title-level fighter, but not much more than that from the tape I had seen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, however, the narrative surrounding him from certain Scottish outlets was portraying him as levels above that.
What I witnessed in the ring on Friday is something I will never forget, Collins, who faced off against the well-known, tough James Beech Jnr, for his Commonwealth, and the vacant British title completely proved me wrong. Something so blatantly obvious from the very first bell to me is that he should be on a mainstream platform. He schooled Beech, not losing a single minute. Hurting him multiple times, and ultimately closing the show with a horrific left to the body. A shot that echoed around the Banquet Hall at the Thistle Hotel.
On paper a win over James Beech, although somewhat impressive, doesn’t all of a sudden make you one of the best prospects in the country, after all, Chris Bourke, and Brad Foster both beat him soundly and went on the lose at the British Title level. The only quote-on-quote “elite prospect” Beech had been in with was Dennis McCann, who dropped him twice on the way to a stoppage win in the 7th.
Although on paper, both McCann and Collins had the same result against Beech, having watched both live in person, the Scotsman’s performance was miles ahead of “The Menace’s”. Now, this isn’t me saying McCann won’t go on to do good things in the sport, he won a Commonwealth title at super bantamweight in his first fight after Beech. But the levels between the two were evident.
McCann dropped Beech in the first with an explosive shot, then proceeded to box rather defensively, until landing a hurtful blow in the 7th and following this up with a flurry of punches. An impressive showing no doubt. Collins however dealt with Beech in a way no one ever has. A systematic beating, with the almost perfect defense having only been caught with a handful of scoring shots. Whilst McCann kept Beech at mid to long range, Collins excelled at every range, displaying elite head and foot movement. Beech couldn’t get near him.
Many questions have been bugging me over the last few days as I have digested the fight: why the hell hasn’t he got a deal with a TV promoter? Not disrespecting Sam Kynoch or small hall boxing in general. It was a thoroughly entertaining night on Friday. But surely Collins is above this? It could come down to a lack of ticket sales on Collins’ part, although the event in Glasgow did sell out. But surely the sport isn’t that far gone that an unbeaten 26-year-old, now with 2 of the main domestic titles, can’t get some exposure?
It’s not like Collins is a boring fighter. Although this is a lofty comparison to make, his defensive movement reminds me slightly of that of Ukrainian dynamo Vasily Lomachenko. Yes, he hardly gets hit, but this isn’t due to the southpaw not being aggressive. He regularly entered the pocket against Beech. He was simply too quick to move to other angles of attack for Beech to land solid blows. An entertaining aggressive fighter, with superb defense. 12-0, 6 knockouts. Why the hell does the boxing world not get to see him put on displays like this on TV?
I don’t really know where I’m going with this piece. But I will conclude with this. It seems pretty obvious to me why the Nick Ball fight never materialized. Ball after all has everything that Collins deserves (not that Ball himself isn’t supremely talented), having fought multiple times on BT Sport, headlining cards, and fighting on the biggest card of 2022, Fury vs Whyte at Wembley. Frank Warren is no mug when it comes to guiding his fighters. Why the hell would anyone take a fight against Collins if they didn’t have to? Why would you risk potentially getting your star prospect beat?
Where will Collins go next? I don’t know. But for the sake of him, and for the enjoyment of the public. I hope that it’s available on a big platform in a meaningful contest. The UK has a rich Featherweight division. And he is certainly capable of beating them all if given the opportunity.