John is a ‘no nonsense’ type of fighter and I do like his style; wearing his opponents down with constant pressure and, up until this with fight Kevin, he had always got his own way.
Kevin is also a very good boxer, with skills in abundance, and the fight was close up until the seventh round when Mitchell took control. I would love to see a rematch happen in the future.
Elsewhere in the boxing world, Randall Bailey is fighting on September 3rd on is the co-feature of Andre Berto’s world title challenge to IBF Welterweight World champion. Lou DiBella has enquired about my availability.
I was due to fight Randall Bailey last October in an IBF World Welterweight eliminator in Belgium and my name has been linked with Kendall Holt, Lamont Peterson and Joel Julio for US fights this year.
Those are the fights that interest me.
But until then my full focus is now on my weekend title fight with Jason Cook and last week was my last hard week in the gym – I completed 30 quality hours of working out.
A week before my fights I normally go to a spa and spend three or more hours pampering myself. It’s a way to relax and treat myself after all the hard work training.
Jason Cook is unknown outside of Britain and he will stay that way come Saturday. There is no way that a 40 year old Jason Cook can match me for ring generalship, speed, skills, heart and chin.
Every time Jason Cook has stepped up to world class level, he has been dropped and soundly outpointed or knocked out – with Gavin Rees and Aldo Rios doing just that.
I have been around world class level for the last few years sparring and fighting world class operators.
Jason Cook’s trainer Darren Wilson, has stated I would be his biggest win as a trainer if Cook were to be victorious on Saturday. Not being disrespectful to Darren, but it’s like the blind leading the blind. Darren hasn’t got the boxing knowledge to deal with the arsenal I have. When Cook is hurt and confused, Darren won’t know what to tell him.
I have been training for three months for this British title defence and I am looking forward to defending my title at the venue where I won it.
I have spent two months training at All Stars Boxing gym in London with Dave Brown, and did a month at Gleason’s gym in New York with Harry Keit and Jihad Abdul Aziz.
Everything from sparring, pads, technical work, fitness and strength conditioning have gone to plan and I feel in as good shape as I was against Lenny Daws, if not better.
I thought Lenny beat Jason convincingly in their encounter and although Jason had three or four good rounds, it was all Lenny otherwise.
When you look at our common opponent, which is Lenny Daws, there can only be one winner.
When Jason has stepped up in class he has drowned. When I step up in class I swim like a dolphin.
Brandon Rios defended his WBA lightweight title against Urbano Antillon over the weekend, coming out on top after three action packed rounds. It sets up an intriguing clash with Rios possibly fighting the winner of John Murray v Kevin Mitchell.
Rios has now had good wins over Acosta, Peterson and a man I have sparred with a few times – Jorge Luis Teron. Rios is signed to Top Rank, so the sky is the limit for him if he can stay focused. Bob Arum said straight after the fight that he thinks that Brandon Rios will be a superstar and I think he may be right – he should have good career ahead of him.
Only time will tell.
As for the John Murray and Kevin Mitchell fight, it looks like being a good domestic match this weekend.
Kevin hasn’t fought since being crushed by the world class Michael Katsidis, which has put him at a huge disadvantage. It’s a shame he hasn’t had a warm up fight ahead of this bout, as if he was to lose you have to wonder where Frank Warren’s former golden boy will go.
In 32 fights, Kevin Mitchell’s standout victories seem to be against Carl Johansson and Breidis Prescott. The Prescott win was Kevin’s best but Breidis is a wild brawler and since his win over Amir Khan, he has since shown that he is not world class with losses against quite standard opponents.
John Murray seems destined for a shot at a world title as he has been around for a while. He has fought, and beaten, better fighters than Kevin has – fighters like Lee McAllister, who turned down a fight with me recently. Jon Thaxton, Lee Meager, Scott Lawton, Andriy Kudryavtsev and Gary Buckland are all decent wins on John’s record.
I was sat next to John at the James DeGale v George Groves fight at the Excel. We talked about his switch from Mick Hennessy to Frank Warren and his desire to be involved in the big fights. I see a hungry fighter in him and I feel that it could just be the differentiator in the fight with Kevin Mitchell.
Kevin seems to have too many distractions outside of boxing and you have to wonder if he still has that ‘fire in his belly’.
I am not writing Kevin off as he has skills and talent. He is trained by a man I have respect for in Jimmy Tibbs. Jimmy has done my corner a few times and the man has trained some of Britain’s best fighters in my lifetime. So I know Jimmy will get Kevin as ready as possible.
I lean towards John Murray to win this fight but if Kevin can bring that Breidis Prescott form into the ring, he may be able to outbox Murray. Whoever wins, it will be a very entertaining fight and I’m looking forward to it.
British lightweight champion Anthony Crolla, another Joe Gallagher trained fighter, has just got a fight with Mexican legend Erik Morales on the Floyd Mayweather Jr v Victor Ortiz bill. I put my name in the hat to fight Morales, but Anthony was picked over me.
Elsewhere, David Haye lost his WBA strap to Wladimir Klitschko just over a week ago in a fight that was disappointing for many British fans. I thought David would have been more aggressive but he got through the twelve rounds unharmed and can come back again.
David was the ‘numero uno’ in the cruiserweight division, holding three of the four titles available and his win over Jean Mormeck made me a real fan of his. He went down against the champion, got up, showed heart and broke the champion down.
David has had a good career and it’s a shame that the fight he will always be remembered for is his unification match against Wladimir.
I agree with Richard Schaefer, head of Golden Boy promotions, that David should go over to America, beat two of their heavyweights and get another shot at Wladimir.
But David is looking at retirement even though he is only thirty years old. He could have his best days ahead of him as he is still pretty young and in his prime.
David and Adam Booth have done a great job with his career so far. David has always shown love to my amateur club All Stars Gym in Paddington and everyone there has nothing but good things to say about him.
As for me, my first defence of my British title against Welsh champion Jason Cook is just under two weeks away.
I am currently a few pounds over the weight limit and that’s with me eating 3000 calories a day. As ever, the training camp at Gleason’s Gym in New York City was a month of genuine quality. My trainers Jihad Abdul Azziz and Harry Keit got the best out of me and my UK trainer Dave Brown is finishing off my preparations for the 23rd July.
I am due to fight Nigel Wright as my mandatory defence after beating Jason Cook, which means I would have fought the British Boxing Board of Control’s number one and number two challengers back to back.
Nigel Wright has lost six times already so I have no problem being the person that inflicts his seventh loss.
Jason has no chance of beating me at Wembley Arena but will no doubt try his best, as he feels it is his last chance. Personally I don’t think he is deserving of a shot against me. He came out of retirement in 2009 and beat nobody of note to fight the then British champion Lenny Daws. He didn’t really deserve that shot either but got a credible draw in that fight and now he has another shot at the British title, despite beating nobody since the Daws draw.
I have beaten former World champion DeMarcus Corley, World number three Delvin Rodriguez and I swept aside Lenny Daws, who Jason had a life and death struggle against.
Jason will be outclassed by myself but he will go down fighting.
I’m targetting fights with Andre Berto, Timothy Bradley, Lamont Peterson and Humberto Soto. Jason Cook stands in my way, so he will get dominated live on Channel Five over here in the UK and on iN Demand, DIRECTV and Avail-TVN in the US.
It will be a great way to get my thirtieth win.
This weekend sees the unification match betwee David Haye and the Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, in a world title fight we haven’t seen the likes of since Mike Tyson v Lennox Lewis.
Mike Tyson was washed up then but many people still gave him a chance. This is a fight between two heavyweights in their prime and I am looking forward to it – just like millions are worldwide.
David Haye has had his greatest victories on away soil and is a fighter who travels well and doesn’t get overawed by the occasion.
He first proved how good he was with a terrific with in France over Mormeck when, despite getting floored, he fought back to win by stoppage. Then he went over to Germany to beat Valuev for the WBA World title.
David loves being the underdog and I expect him to win by knockout come Saturday.
Perhaps his media image leading up to the fight has not been ideal but let’s not forget one thing here – he is not running for President. He is a boxer focused on the task at hand. When a fighter steps in the ring, they put their life on the line and some fighters mentally prepare
I have known David since the mid-90s as his old amateur club Fitzwell Lodge used to have team matches against my amateur club, so I got to know him through there. He was confident even back when he was sixteen and I remember him boasting about his power and skills.
I never got to see him fight until he won the London ABA championship against Courtney Fry and he looked spectacular that night – and was an inspiration to me. I was very proud of him when he won the heavyweight title against Nicola Valuev.
David Haye has breathed life into the heavyweight division and Americans come up to me in the gym and ask what I think about the fight; they are hoping that David can win as he has, and is, making the heavyweight interesting again.
The last dominant heavyweight was British-born Lennox Lewis and if David Haye changes his mind about retirement he too can dominate the division for the next few years.
David Haye, along with Carl Froch, Amir Khan and myself, are the only Brits who are fighting, and beating, world-ranked fighters abroad – I just now have to join them as a world champion.
It’s a good time for British fighters, with the new breed of British promoters willing to let their fighters take chances abroad and prove just how good they are.
My British title defence against former European champion Jason Cook is now three weeks away. I know Jason will be up for it and fight till the very end but, just like Lenny Daws, heart and fitness can do so much for you.
I’ve fought and sparred ‘power-punching’ welterweights and junior middleweights, and have spent the last month in New York City training and sparring NYC’s best fighters, so I can’t see Jason troubling me. It will be an entertaining fight but he will be taken into deep waters and ultimately drowned.
I won my British title at Wembley Arena five months ago and I’m very happy to be making my first defence there.
I’m a proud British champion and I refuse to lose my title.
Kell Brook fought a former IBF World champion in Lovemore Ndou – an opponent who is touching forty but one who has fought a ‘who’s who’ of world boxing; including Miguel Cotto, Saul Alvarez and Junior Witter.
Kell was always going to win but the intrigue lay in the matter in which he would triumph. Kell had stated beforehand that he wanted to be the first man to stop Ndou and there were times he was on the verge of doing that but Ndou’s experience got him through the twelve rounds.
Kell boxed nicely and showed his talent but welterweight is a deep division with Manny Paciquao, Floyd Mayweather Jr.,Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto all campaigning at that weight. How far Kell can go is open to question but he can definitely beat World IBF champion Jan Zaveck and World WBA champion Vyacheslav Senchenko in my opinion.
Elsewhere, Matthew Macklin proved he deserves to campaign regularly on the world scene with a dominating display against world champion Felix Sturm in Germany. Macklin stormed away to an early lead but a late surge from the champion saw him regain his world title. I had Matthew winning by two rounds but in Germany that would never be enough; when you go into the lion’s den you have to leave no doubt that you are the winner. The two judges that scored it to Felix Sturm by four rounds on the scorecard were a joke but Matthew will be back; he put up a great performance and he can be proud of himself.
From a media point of view, Sky Sports put on a great show involving British boxers on the international scene and I hope that this can be a regular thing.
he other big fight of the weekend featured former world champion Devon Alexander against Lucas Matthysse over in the States. Alexander is a great talent but, as we say in the UK, I think he ‘bottled it’ against Timothy Bradley; complaining about headbutts when in fact Timothy just bullied and ‘out-muscled’ the younger man.
I thought that Devon Alexander showed great heart in this fight – getting floored and still coming back to fight – but in front of his hometown fans in St. Louis I guess he had to. The judges gave him the decision over ten rounds but I feel Lucas Matthysse won this fight. It was another case of the away fighter getting robbed on his opponent’s turf, just like with Macklin.
Lucas Martin Matthysse beat Demarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley in his fight before Alexander and I beat Corley three years ago just before Alexander beat him on points – so I have Corley in common with both fighters.
These guys are the fighters that I want to fight. All I have to do is keep winning and they will happen soon enough.
On the undercard of the Alexander v Matthysse fight, Tavoris Cloud (light heavyweight champion) retained his title with a win over Yusaf Mack. I was in a training camp in New Jersey three years ago with Yusaf, as he was trained by British trainer John Tandy back then and John helped me get ready for my Corley win.
The opponent for my British title defence has been announced as former European champion Jason Cook and, having got a draw with Lenny Daws 18 months ago, he will be looking to go one better and snatch the title away from me.
I will be Jason’s hardest opponent in his career and he will need one of those ‘close your eyes and swing for the fences’ punches (similar to how he won his European title 6 years ago) to beat me.
Jason Cook has never fought a world class opponent and I will show him why I was IBF world number four last August, come fight night.
It will be a great fight and I’m looking forward to showing my talent live on Channel Five.
Darren Barker has got a dream shot at defeating the world middleweight number one, Sergio Martinez, on October 1st in America; in a fight broadcast live on HBO across the US and an unbelievable chance for him to showcase his talent.
I sparred with Darren in 2006 at the West Ham amateur club and even back then his hand speed and skills where something worthy of a world champion. Not only would I certainly not write him off against the likes of Martinez and Pirog, but I would also give him a very good chance of beating the other world champions in Sturm and Chavez Jr.
If Darren and Matthew Macklin can pull off wins against Martinez and Sturm in their world title challenges then a unification bout with them would be a great attraction for the UK boxing fans.
Whatever happens, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom has shown that he is intent in making big moves in the world of boxing and it is refreshing to see. At the moment far too many British fighters play safe and fight in the UK, instead of fighting the best and seeing what their true capabilities are.
On Saturday, Ryan Rhodes ventures out to Mexico to fight Golden Boy’s Saul Alvarvez for the WBC 154 lbs world title. Ryan sports a very nice record of 45 wins and 4 losses and has been a British, European and world champion.
Ryan needs a knockout to beat Alvarvez in Mexico but he is under no illusions; he knows what he has to do and I think he can do it.
I wish Ryan the very best and I’m looking forward to his fight.
It seems a great time to be a British fighter on the world scene at the minute as we are involved in some of the biggest fights.
It also seems to be having a multiplying effect across British boxing and former fighter, and now rising promoter, Spencer Fearon is a perfect example of this. He is making remarkable strides with his Hard Knocks promotional company and is responsible for some of the best value for money shows in the UK.
It is only a matter of time before we see his entertaining shows on television and, as he says, “every fight on his show is a main event”.
I’m very sure one of his fighters will be pushing for a British title in the very near future.
Back to my punishing training schedule in NYC, ahead of my title fight next month, it was nice to see former world champion Yuri Foreman at the gym this week. I sparred with him a couple of years ago and I knew he would win a world title. He congratulated me on my British title win, which was nice.
I also sparred with Francisco ‘El Gato’ Figueroa this week and it was great to see him again too. We met in January 2008 when I was in a training camp up in the Catskill mountains with Delvin Rodriguez. Legendary Manager Stan Hoffman (manager to over 30 world champions in his career) had got me a fight in the States as he believed I had attributes of a world champion – and he wanted to help me make that become a reality.
El Gato was brought into camp to help Delvin get ready for his fight against Troy Browning and he helped me out with sparring when he could.
My British title defence is now five weeks away and I am looking forward to it. I have been sparring with the best fighters in New York City and everything is coming together.
I am weighing 149lbs – which is within schedule as I tend to drop 2lbs a week on average whilst in camp.
Next Thursday I am sparring with the WBC number three, which I am looking forward to, and the majority of my sparring has been with southpaws in this training camp.
My opponent will be announced next week but it is a great attribute I have that fighting a southpaw or orthodox doesn’t bother me. I think sparring with the WBC number two super lightweight (and former African, Commonwealth and British champion) Ajose Olusegun for ten years has probably helped me.
But once again my trip to the US has been a resounding success. I’m now half way through my training camp in New York City and I can already feel the sharpness and focus coming together at the right time.
It was definitely worth the journey.
I’m alternating my time between Gleason’s gym and Paerdegat Gym in Brooklyn and this NYC heat, combined with all the hard work, is helping the pounds fly off my body.
I had my first sparring sessions this week and this is the stage when the hard work really starts to pay off; quality sessions with brilliant boxers to hone and polish the technical work with my trainers Harry and Jihad.
I love coming over to the States, as I have said many times before, and once again it is proving to be of pivotal importance in my entire training schedule.
I was asked on Rope-A-Dope Radio earlier in the week (if you missed it check it out here on www.ropeadoperadio.com) as to why coming to the US is so important for me and what it’s like being a British boxer coming over here to train.
The answer is simple. This is what I dreamt of as a child – campaigning in America, being the reigning British champion and testing myself against the best in the world. When I was young I admired those that came to the USA to ‘up their game’ and took the step from good to great.
I would love to be where Amir Khan is in 12 to 18 months, and with hard work anything is possible.
Talking of taking ‘the next step’, Carl Froch scored a big win Stateside over the weekend; showing a rock solid chin and great boxing skills again the old warhorse Glen Johnson.
Although David Haye and Amir Khan are England’s other World champions, what Carl is doing is ‘superstar-worthy’. Don’t get me wrong, David and Amir are not far behind, especially given the feeling I have that David will knock out Klitschko and Amir will add the IBF title to his WBA championship when he beats Zab Judah (on the same night I defend my British title).
Like myself, now is that time of extreme focus for David and Amir; the calm before the storm where the noise starts to increase and distractions need to be put aside.
Whilst in camp I intend to drop 10lbs through eating healthy and training hard. My normal training regime at home is pretty intense anyway but this week has seen NYC reach 100 degrees and it has been that much harder.
Over the next two weeks I have my diary full of sparring in New York City, with sessions in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. There is a competitive environment here and I really enjoy it as everyone wants to see how good they really are.
There was also a little surprise this week as one of my current favourite fighters, Joan Guzman, is back training in Gleason’s gym. It is always a pleasure to be in his presence and I thoroughly enjoyed sparring with him a couple years ago.
On Tuesday I was offered a slot on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s long awaited comeback fight against WBC World champion Victor Ortiz.
Floyd announced his comeback fight on his Twitter page at 12pm and a few hours later I was notified that Golden Boy Promotions had enquired if I was available to fight on September 17th, as part of the televised portion of the show.
It was a huge opportunity and I was hoping for a big name – but when I was told Jessie Vargas, I turned it down instantly. To me it felt like it could have been the Danny Garcia fight all over again, with Vargas not having a world ranking and me having nothing to gain from a win, but everything to lose.
The fight is over eight rounds and that was not appealing to me.
But just to get the call that they wanted me on the show was a good feeling, as the event will be televised in one million homes across America. Unfortunately that alone does not make it a fight that I simply cannot refuse.
I was offered a fight with Victor Ortiz back in September 2008, when I had just beaten former World champion DeMarcus Corley. The timing then also wasn’t right as I was only given two week’s notice.
It all goes back to that focus again. Sometimes you have to resist the temptation to take fights which look extremely tempting.
My opponent for my British title defence on the 23rd July will be announced next week and the four fighters I would like to see put in the hat for this voluntary defence are former European champion Colin Lynes, former World champion Junior Witter, former British champion Barry Morrison and Commonwealth champion Lee McAllister.
And whilst all of this is happening, European champion Jason Cook and English champion Nigel Wright will be contesting in a British title eliminator by October to earn the right to be my number one challenger.
It’s a hard one to call but I edge towards Jason Cook winning as Nigel Wright seems to fade badly in championship fights due to poor conditioning.
But all of these fighters would provide the next few fights with that little bit of extra incentive for me, as all involved have something to ‘give’.
Talking of that ‘little extra’, Gavin Rees fought on the same night as Carl Froch in Wales and scored a win over Andrew Murray for the European Title. Gavin started sharp and looked like a class act but he started to tire and Andrew won a few of the late rounds. Conditioning is an important part of being an elite boxer. You can have all the skills in the world but if you slack or cut corners in the gym, you will get found out at top level.
When I first came to the US to train I was completely unknown, and people were queuing up to spar with me and beat up the ‘fresh meat’. You have to earn your stripes, work hard and prove yourself to gain respect.
It has been a valuable lesson for me over the years and I still keep the mentality that nobody is going to do me any favours. It keeps you sharp.
I’ve sparred Andrew Murray a few times over the years and I felt that Gavin would be too experienced for him and that proved to be correct.
Elsewhere, Yassine El Maachi won the Welterweight Prizefighter on Tuesday evening at Bethnal Green. I know him from All Stars boxing gym, who recently staged a charity gig featuring top indie band Razorlight.
The 90-minute benefit concert for 250 fans raised £4,000 for the club, which faces closure unless it can raise £100,000 due to rent arrears.
Mr. Akay, who set up the club in 1974, has always been there for me and he is a great inspiration in my life. He received a MBE from the Queen in 2000 for his work at the gym and the club has produced amateur and professional champions throughout its thirty years.
There will be events over the next few months as we fight to save the club that we love.
Back to Yassine, we are also both trained by Don Charles at MyGym in Finchley.
Don Charles has had three British champions in Derek Chisora, Ajose Olusegun and myself – and has now added a Prizefighter winner to his stable. He is definitely a rising coaching talent in the world of boxing.
Yassine beat two possible opponents for my July 23rd British title defence (in former European champion Colin Lynes and former WBC World champion Junior Witter) to win the 32K prize money.
Before the event everyone was talking about the former champions but I have sparred with Yassine and knew that they would need more than three rounds to work him out.
Congratulations to Don Charles and Yassine El Maachi.
They both know how to win. And I’m no different.
And with it all eyes are now turning to the 23rd July and I can’t wait to get back in the ring.
Tickets are now on sale for my British Title defence at Wembley Arena on Saturday 23rd July – buy them now online at http://ashleytheophane.com/tickets/
My first British title defence was announced at the Derek Chisora v Tyson Fury press conference by Mick Hennessey on Tuesday, and this is great news for me as now I can step my training up and go to my training camp in New York City for a month , and work with my US trainers Harry Keit and Jihad Abdul-Aziz.
Harry Keit has been in all my big US fights against DeMarcus Corley, Delvin Rodriguez and Danny Garcia and it was a great boost to get him flown over for my British Title win over Lenny Daws.
I can box on the outside and fight on the inside when need be.
Jihad and Harry have added to my fighting style and I have trust in them when we are in the corner, which you need to have as a fighter. If you can’t trust your trainer’s eyes then it is all on you and you cannot see everything whilst fighting your opponent. Your trainer may see elements from outside the ring that you can’t whilst in the thick of the battle.
So I am now beginning my month-long training stint at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn throughout June and will get some world class sparring and training before coming back to the UK and finishing off with my UK team.
Gleason’s gym has had a string of boxing greats come and go – from the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Mark Breland and Riddick Bowe, through to Mike McCallum, Pernell Whitaker, Emile Griffiths and Julio Cesar Chavez, to name but a few.
I have sparred with great fighters like Elio Rojas, Yuri Foreman, Raul Frank, Dmitriy Salita, Joan Guzman, Chris Smith and Luis Carlos Abregu whilst at Gleason’s. I have also sparred with former world No.3 Frankie Figueroa and world title challenger Delvin Rodriguez whilst in New York; it is a great place to be and I have felt the major improvements that I have made in my time here
I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now in if I had never made the move six years ago. Being in New York City helps me to focus, as I’m away from my family, friends and just ‘normal stuff’ that distracts you at home. My days in NYC are spent in the gym then home resting – your body needs time to recover after intense sessions in the gym and in your normal surrounding sometimes you cannot get that.
I will be putting in 25 hour week training sessions on average which will include: boxing, strength conditioning, yoga, pilates, spin sessions, swimming, kettlebell and bootcamp circuit workouts, long distance running and sprint sessions.
There is one particularly hard session that I enjoy doing in Brooklyn; I run up a twenty floor project tower block, ten to twelve times. It gets your heart rate going and builds strength in your legs.
Whilst I’m here I will also take some time out to look after my body and get a spa treatment – facial, pedicure, manicure and massage. My body is my Ferrari so it needs to be looked after to get the best results out of it.
There is a big Irish presence in New York City, which resonates with me as my Grandma is from Ireland and is still living in Dublin. I get to meet a lot of Irish people in NYC as boxing still tends to be a big pastime in Ireland, and maybe it’s the Irish in my blood that led me to boxing in the first place.
I have been coming out to NYC for the past five years now. When Amir Khan made the move a few years ago, I knew it was the best thing for him as he was boxing on his natural talent whilst in the UK. Being in LA added a whole new dimension to his game.
Amir Khan has just signed to fight Zab Judah on the same night I defend my British title. I will be looking to fight the winner as I am currently ranked in the WBC, IBF and IBO World rankings.
I’ve had three fights with Zab Judah fall through in the past. 8th November 2008, May 21st 2009 and 6th November 2010. I have never pursued him but the promoters Square Ring, and his current promoters Main Events, have been interested in matching us two through the years and his team have avoided me like the plague.
It is understandable as it is a ‘win-win’ situation for me – with Zab having everything to lose; kind of like the reverse situation with Frankie Gavin and myself. If fights don’t make dollars, they don’t make sense.
Getting to mandatory status is my aim as I know Timothy Bradley, Zab Judah or Amir Khan will not make a voluntary against me.
I am underrated and on my day I can hang with the very best of them.
Back to the US and David Haye has been coming to the States for years, and it is obvious what it has done for him. I am glad that David brought George Groves to Miami for a training stint before his fight with James DeGale, as sparring with Andre Dirrell must have been a big confidence boost for George. If George could handle the slickness of Andre Dirrell then James DeGale would be no problem.
George stuck to a great game plan and he got the result – even if it was razor thin. In the past I have been in the same place to where James is now, when I lost by one round in a split decision to Danny Garcia.
I came back to beat the World number three in Delvin Rodriguez so sometimes a loss can be beneficial if you don’t let it eat you up. Let it motivate you instead.
Frank Warren jumped in and put Frankie Gavin’s name in the hat to face me when Mick Hennessey said my opponent is to be confirmed. English champion Nigel Wright also mentioned my name on Sky Sports last weekend as a man he wants to fight. Southern Area champion Darren Hamilton is another to have name-dropped me after winning his title a couple months back.
Nigel Wright has lost 6 times in 30 fights. He has lost to Olusegan, McCloskey and Daws in the past and has had many chances. Unfortunately he has shown that perhaps he is not good enough to win a major title.
I sparred with Darren Hamilton in the lead up to my British Title win over Lenny Daws. He is okay but, like Frankie Gavin, needs to earn the right to fight me or win something that I want – as right now they are in the ‘win win’ situation I mentioned earlier. Beating the above will do nothing for my career.
If it is up to me I will make my first defence against former British champion Barry Morrison, as he ducked me four years ago to fight Colin Lynes. I owe him a beating. Talking of Colin Lynes, he was a European champion and also Junior Witter is a former world champion – so these three top my list for my British title defence.
Witter and Lynes will be in Prizefighter this weekend so I will be tuning in from Stateside, where I plan to stay entirely focused on the task ahead.
My trainer Harry Keit says, “The key to being a successful boxer is hard work and discipline”, whilst Jihad Abdul-Aziz says “The art of boxing is not a tough man’s sport. The art of boxing is to hit without getting hit”.
These are my mantras for my time in NYC.
The O2 centre is a great boxing venue and Frank Warren did a very good job of promoting last night’s feast of boxing.
It’s a shame that Nathan Cleverly, who is now World WBO champion, was reduced to co-main event status but James DeGale and George Groves had also done a great job promoting their fight. The media interest was hyped up expertly and the fight did it justice in the end.
I was sitting between former World champion Enzo Maccarinelli and European champion John Murray, when English champion Tyson Fury and British champion Derek Chisora got into a scuffle ringside.
Fury was bare-chested and looked more like a man who just came out the pub than a future world champion but make no mistake about it – this fight is good for British boxing; let’s just hope it happens this summer.
Of course hype and bravado are a pivotal part of the boxing fabric. Frankie Gavin keeps calling me out and be careful what you wish for young lad – you might just get it.
I have watched only two of Frankie’s fights and he hasn’t impressed me. But having said that, Prizefighter winner Michael Lomax and former British Champion Young Mutley should be ashamed of the performances they offered against him. They seem like they just turned up for a pay cheque.
I have fought all over the world and beaten world-class fighters on their promoter’s show, so if Frankie and I were to fight in the future on a Frank Warren show, I am very sure I would beat him.
But at this minute in time I am not looking behind me, I am looking in front and fighting the European or world champion is my focus.
Frankie can get to the back of the queue as I have a voluntary fight due and then the winner of the Steve Williams v Nigel Wright fight – who are due to battle it out for the mandatory spot.
I will defend my British title three times to win the Lonsdale belt outright and then move on.
Frankie called me out on Sky Sports during his interview and then Frank Warren TV interviewed us after he was finished with Sky Sports. But Frankie’s fight against Young Mutley was a ‘snooze fest’ – he needs to add some flair to his game as right now as he is boring to watch.
He has nothing to bring to the table and I have no desire to fight him until he wins a world or European title.
Nathan Cleverly didn’t look amazing last night either but that is understandable after the week he has had and not knowing who he was going to fight.
Even so, I just don’t see Cleverly beating the world’s best light heavyweights at the moment; the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Travis Cloud, Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal.
But you never know. Stranger things have happened.
In the main fight, there was huge support for George Groves in the Arena – which might have been significant in the decision against James DeGale. James seemed to be the stronger of the two and rocked George on occasions but I was right near George’s corner and they were telling him to box and move and not to engage. These were great tactics and they worked, as when George stood and traded he usually ended up on the wrong side of the exchange.
Everyone ringside didn’t know who was winning as there were many close rounds and I would have agreed with judge Richard James Davies and scored it a draw – that would have been fair.
James can, and will, come back from this. As I said in my last blog, Nigel Benn lost to Michael Watson when he was the favourite and he went onto win two world titles afterwards.
The 168lbs Division is hot right now; George should move on from this win and target a European title shot and then a world title shot. George had the Arena chanting ‘Georgie Georgie’ and he most certainly came out of this ‘The Star’.
Like I also said previously, I felt DeGale was the favourite but I wouldn’t be surprised if George won. I wish him the best as he’s a nice kid; it is always nice proving the experts wrong so I know how he currently feels – I have pulled that feat off with beating DeMarcus Corley, Delvin Rodriguez and Lenny Daws.
John Murray and Kevin Mitchell were in attendance to hype their 9th July fight and I had a chat with John ringside. He seems like a good guy who just wants big fights. Whoever wins will also go on to challenge for a world title so it’s a good time for British boxing, and I’m looking forward to making my mark in the next year.
Hats off to Frank Warren for putting on a very good evening’s entertainment despite the only real fight being Groves Vs DeGale, and it was also good to see former WBU, European, British and Southern Area champion there – Wayne Alexander.