MAE Astbury’s taking no short cuts as she builds up preparations for her first professional fight.

The Weaverham 25-year-old has her sights on bigger and better things after a successful amateur career, with her first contest in the paid ranks due to be set for early 2024.

Northwich Guardian: Mae AstburyMae Astbury (Image: Michael Ault)

Taking the next step has been aided by sparring with former European title holder Chloe Watson, helping her in camp ahead of the 23-year-old’s fresh European flyweight belt shot against French fighter Justine Lallemand at Bolton Whites Hotel in Bolton on December 1.

The pair now spar each week at the gym owned by three-time light welterweight and welterweight world champion, Ricky Hatton.

Former Weaverham High School student Astbury, who fights out of Boxing Fit Academy in Northwich under the coaching team of Frank Collins and Callum Smith, will be gaining a lot from the experience as new challenges await.

Northwich Guardian: Mae Astbury with Frank Collins, right, and Geoff HunterMae Astbury with Frank Collins, right, and Geoff Hunter (Image: Michael Ault)

“It is great fighting someone with such vast experience as it shows where we are at before we have even had our first professional fight yet,” said Astbury, who turned pro in September.

“Having competitive spars with girls that have the experience and knowledge are the best ways in which I will learn and progress rather than taking it easy. I do not want to take short cuts, I want to work hard to be the best.”

Astbury, a first-class with honours psychology graduate who is currently studying sport psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, won 16 bouts as an amateur after getting into the ring for her first fight in 2017.

She capped off her amateur days by winning the Merseyside and Cheshire regional belt earlier this year, meaning all of her blood, sweat and tears dedicated to becoming the best she could be had paid off.

Northwich Guardian: Mae Astbury gets the winMae Astbury gets the win (Image: Michael Ault)

“Winning was an incredibly special feeling for me and my coaches,” said Astbury.

“All the hard work and preparation I had done before fights were rewarded.

“It was great to receive recognition and have something to show for it.

“It also meant I then had the chance to represent Merseyside and Cheshire in the National Amateur Boxing Championships.

“I reached the quarter-finals before facing a woman who had won 33 of her 36 fights.

“It was an immensely proud moment representing my region and the perfect end to my amateur career.”

Astbury believes the best is yet to come but none of it might have happened if she had listened to some of the noise surrounding her decision to give boxing a try.

Entering the boxing world is not without its difficulties, as a man, but even more so as a woman.

Starting a sport that is male dominated can be tough, and having to endure the challenging stereotypes along the way is just one hurdle Astbury had to overcome on her route to becoming a professional boxer. “Growing up I always played sports that are mostly associated with men, football being one, but that is what I enjoy,” she said.

“I was lucky to get into boxing because I fell into the sport with there being a place to train in Northwich.

“I initially only went to get fit, but within weeks after starting I was being asked if I wanted to fight and I took the opportunity.

“But it has not been plain sailing. At the start I had people telling me I did not want to box, and questioning why I was doing it and belittling my achievements, which if speaking to a male they would not have even asked.

“Thankfully, I do not let that affect me and I show how good I am, and why I box, when I get in the ring.”

Northwich Guardian: Mae Astbury and her coach Frank CollinsMae Astbury and her coach Frank Collins (Image: Michael Ault)

Following her first fight win in 2017, a win via unanimous decision, she recalls her emotions before and afterwards.

“Heading into the fight I was incredibly nervous but also excited at the same time,” she said.

“When it was announced I had won, it was at that moment my love for the sport flourished and I did not look back.

“I do sometimes reflect on that fight, and it is nice to see how much I have progressed.

“2018 was my first full season as an amateur, and then lockdown hit which affected everyone and meant any fights were postponed and set my training back two years which was something else I had to overcome.”

Many athletes at the start of their sporting career find they must manage and overcome the financial strain to provide themselves with the best chance of success in their field.

This is something Astbury has had to overcome, with travel costs being just one factor due to the lack of female boxers within the area.

She has an excellent sponsorship team of J Seddon Electrical, Hammac Scaffolding, GTM Heavy Rentals and A Bartlett Construction, giving her the opportunity and platform to succeed.

Her backers clearly see how Astbury relishes a battle.

Returning to training and eventually the ring in 2022 is when the serious hard work, determination and dedication started.

“Lockdown was very frustrating, but when we were allowed back, my coach Frank Collins and I agreed we had to work as hard as possible and prioritise nothing but boxing in order to catch up on the years missed, in order to get to the ability I am now,” she said.

Bring on 2024!