COACH Kev Thorniley was delighted to link up with unbeaten super-welterweight Joe Pigford and added: “It was obvious we gelled.”

The 26-year-old has joined Thorniley and promoter Steve Bendall as part of the Bendall’s Gym stable, which also includes unbeaten professionals Lee Cutler and Jack Simpson.

Southampton-born Pigford had been part of the fighters in former world champion Ricky Hatton’s gym in Manchester but decided to make the move closer to home.

Thorniley told the Daily Echo: “Joe became a father around eight months ago and, while enjoying his training up north, the stresses of life away from family became a burden that he was struggling with.

“He contacted Steve and myself and informed us he had decided to leave Ricky’s gym and move back south.

“He then asked if he could come to the gym for a chat and to see about the possibility that we could work together.

“I've known Joe quite a long time now having taken past boxers Matty Legg, Joe Hayes and current prospect Lee Cutler to spar him and always found him a really easy guy to get on with.

“Within one session it was obvious we gelled both in boxing and socially.”

He added: “Having had a great relationship with Hatton’s Gym and one of the trainers Mike Jackson in particular, I was really happy to receive a call from Mike telling me Joe had told them his decision that he would be taking me on as his new trainer.”

Fifteen of Pigford’s 16 contests have involved wins coming by way of knockout.

His last contest came when he stopped Nicaragua’s Miguel Aguilar in three rounds nine months ago.

“It was not only a relief for me but a huge compliment that Mike told me he could not wish for or recommend a better trainer for Joe to come to down south,” said Thorniley.

“The buzz in the gym between Joe, Lee and Jack is brilliant.”