Daniel Cope-Billy Snaith: War of the words will soon be war in boxing ring

Champion: Daniel Cope. Picture by FRANK REID
Champion: Daniel Cope. Picture by FRANK REID

The war of the words is almost over. Thankfully.

North-East boxing’s eagerly-awaited title derby between Daniel Cope and one-time friend, Billy Snaith, is just 24 hours from the first bell.

It is an intriguing match pitting former pals and team-mates who have been embroiled in a verbal spat before and after promoter Steve Wraith announced the fight for his Sedgefield show, on Saturday.

Cope will make the maiden defence of the Northern Area welterweight belt he won last October when he stopped old rival Tom Whitfield, in Ashington.

This time last year, Cope was on the same team as Snaith, both boxing for Gus Robinson Developments.

But when Cope left the West View RoadHQ to transfer to the Neil Fannan gym, it prompted Snaith to call out his old comrade.

The fight would never be sanctioned by Gus Robinson Developments head coach, Peter Cope. While Daniel had left the camp, there was no way his dad was going to train Snaith to fight his flesh and blood.

However, Snaith left the Hartlepool team after three straight wins to sign for Wraith and be trained by Jeff Saunders Snr in Fishburn.

It paved the way for a Hartlepool v Ferryhill derby and the pair go toe-to-toe on Saturday at an almost-sold-out Hardwick Hall shoot-out.

Credit goes to the pair for fighting each other for the prestigious title when many boxers sidestep such battles.

But there has been little credit in the build-up, Snaith seeming to think he was involved in a PPV grudge match a la David Haye v Tony Bellew.

The 29-year-old indulged in a foul-mouthed interview on line while Cope responded by referring to him as Billy the Snail and taunted him over weight issues at his previous fight.

Fannan, never a man to take part in any name-calling, told SportMail that it has been totally unnecessary.

“There is no love lost,” said Fannan. “In all fairness to Daniel, Billy did start it.

“But, to be honest, I don’t get involved in stuff like that.

“For me, boxing is boxing, you fight and you shake hands afterwards.

“You have to have skill and determination in this sport, you don’t have to be staring at the other man thinking ‘I want to tear him to pieces’.

“You should not need to fire up any hatred before a fight, no matter who it is.

“In the end, I don’t think it does you any favours.

“I am just looking forward to seeing Daniel fight.”

Fannan’s final assessment will doubtless be echoed by local fight fans.

Cope, with six wins, a draw and a defeat on his record, will start as the favourite against Snaith, who has won all four of his pro bouts.

Fannan says he has found it hard to gauge just how good the challenger is.

“I’ve not seen Billy box,” said the coach. “I’ve watched a little bit on tape.

“But he’s not really fought anyone who has hit him back so I’ve not really wasted my time watching too much.

“That’s not me dismissing Billy, but there is not a great deal to learn – his last bout was eight rounds of him throwing punches and his opponent covering up.”

Fannan and his boxer have taken his first defence ultra-seriously, including some tough sparring sessions with unbeaten Guisborough brothers, Josh and Kalam Leather.

“Daniel has done loads of rounds and is looking good, everything is on track,” said Fannan. “He is getting better all the time.”

Both boxers weighed in today just a quarter of a pound inside the 10st 6lb limit.