“THIS kid will be a heavyweight champion, I’ve doubt at all about that."

Those were the words of York boxing trainer Billy Wilson on his amateur heavyweight Arlo Stephens, who is preparing for his first bout of the year on Friday.

The Yorkshire Challenge belt-holder competes in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sports) in Wolverhampton, potentially from Friday until Sunday, should he progress to the final.

Stephens' trainer Wilson, of York Boxing Club, introduced the heavyweight into boxing just two years ago following the Londoner's move north to York St Johns University.

The coach has seen few boxers progress as quickly as Stephens has.

“I’ve never seen anyone progress from zero to where he is now in such a short space of time," says Wilson. "It’s unbelievably quick.

“But if you know Arlo and see what type of lad he is, it’s not hard to see why. He’s very intelligent.

“When we’re working on something in the gym, as soon as you tell him to do something, he’ll do it.

“If he makes a mistake in the gym, he doesn’t make that mistake again.

“Arlo's ring IQ is brilliant."

Stephens enjoyed a successful year in 2019, having sealed the third defence of his Yorkshire Challenge belt to win the title outright.

All of those wins came via knockout.

“I know that he’s only a raw novice, but if kids are not on their top level against Arlo, they’re getting knocked out," stated Wilson.

“He’s only been boxing for two years, so he’s still learning.

"But he's got that capability to knock people out.

"That’s how fast he’s progressing in boxing."

A common cliche among boxers and trainers is that of not looking past your next fight.

It's not a view shared by Wilson who has provisionally marked out Stephens next moves all the way up until the end of the season in June.

“We’re not just looking at one bout, we have set out a plan," added the trainer.

“This month he’s boxing in the BUCS, in February he’s in the MTK Box Cup, then it's the Elite ABAs, then the East Midlands Box Cup, then at the end of the season, the Haringey (Box Cup).

“And, if he does well in the ABAs, he may get an England call, which is something that we’re hoping for.

“Arlo's get to have something to aim at. He can’t just be sat in the gym training for six months, because he’s not 13-years-old.

“He’s got to be fighting regularly, fighting the right opponents in order to learn and progress."

Given Wilson's high commendation of Stephens, eyes naturally turn to when he will make the move into the professional ranks.

“He’ll be around 24 or 25 when he turns over," Wilson says.

“Arlo hasn’t had 10 years of learning as a young amateur, so he has to take a little bit more time.

“He’s the boxing the best kids in the country and he’s giving them fights and beating them. Sometimes he comes out second best but that’s only because of the experience that they’ve got over him.

“Once he catches up with them in terms of experience, he’s going to be flattening them.

“Arlo is without a doubt the best prospect in the country bar none. Once he gets on a roll, he’s going to be unstoppable."