BRADLEY Saunders has split with Hartlepool coaches Peter Cope and Eddy Ellwood to re-locate in Marbella.
The title contender, who boxes in London on Monday night, had been based in town during his promising professional career.
Former Mr Universe Ellwood had been Saunders’ strength and conditioning coach while he worked under Cope at the Gus Robinson Developments gym on West View Road.
But the 27-year-old, from Sedgefield, says there were too many “distractions” in his home area getting in the way of his boxing.
After spending extended spells in Marbella in recent months he has now decided to base himself in the southern Spain city on a full-time basis.
Saunders will start life post-Cope in London on Monday night with an eight-round match with British Masters bronze welterweight champ Gareth Heard.
“I’ve left Peter but I’m hoping on a good note,” said the former Olympian.
“Boxing out of Marbella is the best thing for me.
“I’ve been going out there for a while and think that’s the best place for me and my career.
“I’m in the Matthew Macklin gym there, I have great sponsors and some world-class sparring.
“The sparring I get there is second to none.
“There were just too many distractions when I was home in the North-East.
“In Marbella I can eat, sleep and drink boxing.
“I can live the life of a proper pro and think it will be the best thing for my career.
“Peter is a very very good coach and it’s a cracking gym, one of the best around.
“My decision is nothing against Peter or the lads at the Gus Robinson gym, I just needed to be out of the North-East.
“The same goes for Eddy, whose been brilliant with me from day one.”
Cope, who guided Saunders to a great points success over Peter McDonagh last November and a stoppage win over Irish warrior Michael Kelly in July, was disappointed to lose such a talent.
“I’m not sure I agree with his decision but it’s one of those things,” said the trainer.
“Bradley phoned me up and thanked me but said it was a financial decision to go over there.
“There is no bad feeling on my part and I’ve wished Bradley all the very best.”
The pair will actually be in the same changing room on Monday when Saunders fights Heard at the Royal Lancaster Hotel.
Saunders, with six straight wins under his belt, is up against Heard who has lost just once in six bouts.
The 30-year-old, from Avon, won the British Masters bronze welterweight title in June when he stopped Faheen Khan in four rounds in Swindon.
“He comes to win,” said the former South Durham ABC star. “But so am I and I’ll be looking to put on a good show.”
Cope’s cruiserweight Simon Vallily will take on Lithuania’s Rolandas Cesna on the same Frank Warren promotion in Bayswater.
Vallily has won both of his pro bouts, the most recent of which against Irish-based Uganden Moses Motovu last month saw Cope in his corner for the first time.
The 28-year-old former Commonwealth Games champ is facing a limited but awkward opponent.
Cope said: “Simon is a class boxer and athlete and destined fopr bigger and better things.
“But he needs more professional experience, more pro rounds.
“This lad who he is boxing does not have the best of records outside his own country but he never gets stopped.
“So this should be a chance to get some rounds in and hopefully a good win.”