CHERRIES’ goalkeepers have staged a fierce battle to become Eddie Howe’s number one this summer – and have now taken their fight into the boxing ring.

Shot-stoppers Aaron Ramsdale, Mark Travers, Asmir Begovic, Will Dennis and Artur Boruc all took part in sparring and pad work at Bendall’s Gym on Ashley Road this week.

The latter even stepped into the ring with a former IBO light heavyweight champion in Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara.

Trainer Ross Alexander led the session, with Bournemouth boxers Chris Billam-Smith and Lee Cutler both in attendance to work with the Dorset club’s keepers.

Ramsdale, who on Saturday made his Premier League debut against Sheffield United at Vitality Stadium, stepped up to spar unbeaten middleweight Cutler.

Billam-Smith, who has eight knockout wins in 10 bouts, went toe-to-toe with Bosnian international Begovic at the Parkstone venue.

The Shane McGuigan trained star, who is now back in training following his loss to Richard Riakporhe at the O2 Arena in London last month, told the Daily Echo: “I was home and had a massage booked in to get ready to return to camp.

“Ross said he had Fonfara coming in, who has been in some really decent fights. Him and Boruc are friends and they did some sparring.

“It was good. Asmir and I did a little body spar which was a good laugh, then I took them all on the pads and it was good to see them all.

“They all enjoyed it, it’s a bit of active recovery for them but it’s still doing hand-eye co-ordination stuff. It’s not just work, they came along and they had some fun.

“Lee Cutler did a little spar with Aaron Ramsdale. Him and Aaron know each other.

“Because Lee wasn’t there, Aaron text him saying ‘you’ve bottled it’ to wind him up, so Lee turned up about 30 minutes later!

“I saw Aaron get his Premier League debut on Saturday and congratulated him. It was good to have them down from my point of view, being a Bournemouth fan.

“Will Dennis was there and him and Mark Travers had a little body spar as well. The lads all enjoyed it – a couple of them had watched my latest fight, so it was good.”

Cherries had previously sent their entire squad to train at Bendall’s during an international break in October 2017.

Assessing the goalkeepers’ punching prowess, Billam-Smith said: “Artur Boruc – he’s got some heavy hands on him – he could punch pretty hard.

“It was the same with Asmir to be fair. He was very heavy-handed when I took him on the pads. I had to keep my wits about me when I got in the ring with him!

“Obviously the technique is a little different when you’re throwing power into your hands rather than into kicks and stuff like that.

“The goalkeepers have been in a couple of times with Ross. They all enjoy it and that’s the main thing.”