St Ives Boxing Academy supremo Steve Whitwell is tipping teenage talent Jack Smith to become a star.

Jack Smith with St Ives Boxing Academy trainer Steve Whitwell.Jack Smith with St Ives Boxing Academy trainer Steve Whitwell.

The 18-year-old flyweight, who is based in Chatteris, was granted his professional licence in recent days.

Smith has enjoyed an extensive 38-fight career as an amateur, winning 20 of them, and Whitwell has high hopes for the hot prospect as he now enters the paid ranks.

Whitwell said: “Jack has received a really good grounding as an amateur, both in this country and while he lived in Australia for a while.

“He has spent the last three years under my guidance and I’m delighted to have total control of his career as a pro.

“He is quite young to be making the switch to the paid ranks, given he doesn’t turn 19 until December, but there are a number of factors which prompted this move.

“The first of those is that it is extremely difficult to get him matched, with only the top-ranked amateurs willing to face him.

“Another is that his style will be much better suited to the pro game. We’ve found it tough to get decisions from the judges when in amateur bouts.

“He will also improve for having the chance to box over longer than the three rounds he has been used to in the amateurs, but we will be taking things slowly and making sure we always make the right moves.

“Due to Jack’s age, we have time on our side and there will be no rush to get him into title contention.

“That said, I expect big things from him over the next few years. I’m confident he will become a fans’ favourite with his aggressive style combined with smart boxing skills.”

Whitwell revealed there is a possibility that Smith could have his first pro outing in December, but he is more likely to make his debut in February 2017.

Smith’s stablemate Karl Wheeler is back in the ring at the end of this month. The Peterborough-based crusierweight faces Ossie Jervier at the York Hall, in London, on Saturday, October 29.

Wheeler (34) is on a roll after winning British and International Challenge titles earlier in the year.

And victory in his next outing will move him a step closer to a shot at the Southern Area title held by Isaac Chamberlain.