A SOMETIMES CRUEL AND UNCERTAIN SPORT
It was Tuesday evening, as I started the final countdown to my title defence on Saturday. I knew I was in optimum physical shape, and had passed the battery of necessary medical tests, and was down to the final straight of getting my mental fine tuning underway, when the phone rang and….
Devastating news; Nigel Wright had complications with his brain scan, and had to pull out of the title fight. Nothing prepares fighters for this. We all know we are in the toughest industry, but usually try to blank this out of our minds. Nobody wishes misfortune on anyone. I sat in silence with my mind working overtime. Absolutely terrible news for Nigel, but it was comforting to hear that he was confident that he would bounce back.
I had to remain focused and not get distracted, despite knowing that my weeks of focus and dedicated training might all be for nothing.
Frank Maloney, the promoter, was sanguine, but hugely professional and diligent in the middle of the emotional maelstrom that was surrounding the bill. Frank Warren’s bill on the Friday had just been pulled. Wladimir Klitschko’s defence set for Saturday, had also been cancelled.
Emotions were running very high, with only days to go to the weigh-in.
I’ve been around the block a few times, and nothing beats experience. My team were superb, and my job was to ‘just’ remain calm and professional, despite the feeling of impotence and no longer in control of circumstances. This is also a necessary part of a champion’s make-up; ‘expect the unexpected’ and I have always been blessed with a champion’s mind-set.
My fight was in limbo, but Southern Area champion, Ben Murphy, was in full training and hungry for the opportunity. Ben had fought two weeks ago, so was in good shape.
Frank and his team were working overtime, with both the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) and SKY. These are seriously testing times for all concerned; all fighters on the bill, their management, the promoter, the broadcaster, the BBBoC and let’s never forget the fans – the life blood of our tough industry.
An emotional twenty four hours ended with Ben’s official approval, and I was now facing a relatively unknown quantity.
Ben said that he is “feeling positive”, and has “visions of beating me on Saturday”.
He is obviously delusional.
I always prepare and train for every eventuality, and I’m more than ready for all Ben can bring to the party and more.
He has beaten current British super featherweight champion, Gary Buckland. He has also beaten decent boxers in Lee Cooke and Tony Owen, who he recently stopped in four rounds.
Ben lost to John Watson, and Spencer Fearon’s recent TV ‘Prize Fighter’ winner, Choi Tseveenpurev, last year. Ben has never shared a ring with anyone anywhere near my accomplishments or talents. He will be really up for this fight, as it is like a dream come true to him, but I will give him a nightmare evening and result.
It is business as usual for me, as I expected a clear points or knock out win against Wright, and I expect at least the same against Murphy.
Ben is getting his career best payday to fight me, and I truly thank him for saving the show. Ben is always an aggressive fighter, and will come to win. I just have way too much for him.
He trains at TKO gym in Canning Town, under the guidance of Johnny Eames. I worked with Peter Swinney and Johnny Eames from 2006 to 2009. I got good wins against former Commonwealth champ, Craig Docherty, and former English champ, Alan Bosworth whilst working with them.
The change of opponent is no big issue for me, as I always spar southpaw and orthodox fighters in my preparation.
I purposely only watched maybe a round or two of Nigel Wright’s performances, as I always focus more on what I intend to do, than get wrapped up in what my opponent can do.
I instinctively know what Ben’s game plan will be already. He cannot try and outbox me; therefore, he will come out swinging, and hope to overwhelm me. I’m really excited that he is ‘up for it’ as it makes it far more likely that it will end in a knockout win in my favour.
After my successful title defence on Saturday, I will need one more defence before I own the Lonsdale belt outright. I’m never complacent, but a rematch against Lenny Daws or perhaps a defence against Alex Arthur come to mind for my debut with Hatton Promotions in London early next year.
I’ve had a really great training camp; with sparring sessions in New York City with former world champion, Luis Collazo, world number one ,Ajose Olusegun, world number six Argenis Mendez, world number five, Leon Moore, world title challenger, Dmitriy Salita, former world number three, Francisco Figueroa and two time world title challenger, Raul Frank. Tough but exhilarating.
I completed 132 rounds, which have whipped me into frightening and towering shape.
My boxing team of Jihad Abdul Aziz, Harry Keit and Dave Brown have done their job superbly, and I am more than happy with the condition I am currently in. Harry has flown in to do my corner, and Dave will also be there with Mick Williamson, Britain’s number one cut man, overseeing and ensuring that everything goes to plan, just in case there is any damage to my skin.
I have beaten a former world champion, DeMarcus Corley, straight after his fight with Devon Alexander, when I was the clear underdog. I have also beaten world number three, Delvin Rodriguez, who just got an excellent win last weekend up at 154lbs, and I pushed world number two, Danny Garcia all the way, in a bout many thought I had won.
I am tried and tested. I’ve had a career that Ben can only dream of. I never write off any underdog, as I have been the underdog many times before in my career, and I have got my best results as the underdog. I am taking Ben as seriously as I took Nigel Wright, Jason Cook and Lenny Daws. It could be an easy or hard fight. I am prepared for anything. Bring it on.
I completed a twelve round pad session on Monday, and then a ten round pad session on Wednesday. This is probably the best preparation for a fight I have ever had, so the opponent is not that important to me. It’s so much more about me and my goals, and I’m in the zone and on my journey to the world title. I will not be deflected, lose focus or self-belief.
I am seriously looking forward to 2012, and unfortunately, Ben Murphy stands in the way of my 2012 ambitions.
SKY’s excellent ‘Ringside’ showed a fight preview of my second British title defence on Thursday. It was good viewing, they did a fabulous job (and I was also quite good as well). My fight will be on Sky Sports 1, just before Amir Khan fights Lamont Peterson. This is the second time in a row that Amir and I have boxed on the same night. Britain’s two top 140lb fighters will both win, and 2012 will be a massive year for the both of us?
I will rest for forty eight hours prior to my fight, to help my body recover, so come fight night my body will perform to 100% of its capabilities.
When it starts to get uncertain, I focus on the certainties, like preparing my supplements and vitamins to take with me to County Durham, as straight after the weigh-in, I will need to replenish my body with the right carbohydrates, amino acids and proteins. I will also travel with my post weigh-in food and pre-fight food, as there is no room for hiccups – so to speak.
I am currently using HIGH5 and NRG Fuel products. Wellman Sport is the choice of vitamins I ingest in my body.
Ben, thank you so much for bravely stepping up, but apologies, because I am ready for war and defeat is just not an option.
I am certain in our uncertain world.
‘WRIGHT UP MY STREET’
This is my last hard week of training before my British title fight with Nigel Wright.
The nearer I get to fight time; I always start to think about my late Godmother, and the loss of my cousin, Tyrone.
I am killing myself in the gym, as I normally do with all my fights. I feel that I work far too hard, to lose to someone like Nigel Wright. He may have home town advantage, but that is of no concern to me, I’m far too focused. I have the skills advantage. I bring the ‘special effects’ to the ring. I’m currently 143lbs, so my weight is exactly on point, and I passed my final check weigh-in with an official of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) this week. The BBBoC inspector told me he would not wish me luck, as I don’t need it. My ability will get me through the fight, and that he will see me in the New Year, when in my next fight I will be targeting the Lonsdale belt outright. It means a lot to me that he believes in my talent.
I’ve taken my boxing skills and blessed many cities around the world; Munich, Berlin, New York, Texas, Oklahoma, Castries and London to name but a few. Sunderland is the next stop!
When you push yourself as hard as I do, you know you can do anything you put your mind to. “Believe and you can achieve anything”. I push myself beyond my limit. It then becomes a mental thing, when your body is in pain, and is on the verge of giving up, your mind takes over. Stepping up to that seemingly unattainable next level, is all about mental conditioning.
Whilst working out in New York or London, fellow boxers and gym users regularly stop to admire my work ethic and talent. This recognition makes me feel good and drives me to go even further.
When I was an amateur, I would always say to myself that when I felt the pain of training, I had to learn to ‘enjoy’ that feeling. I don’t have to say it anymore, as I really love training and training even more.
I still workout like I’m a machine. This week I have completed 32 hours training, and last week I completed 29 hours.
I have done nothing different in this camp to the fights with Jason Cook and Lenny Daws. Jihad Abdul Aziz, Harry Keit, Dave Brown and the best cut-man in Britain, Mick Williamson, have all played their part in my British title wins.
My mind just cannot begin to comprehend Nigel Wright beating me. I keep asking myself, how can someone who has lost to Lenny Daws and Michael Lomax compete with me? His biggest win to date was against super featherweight, Alex Arthur, who was well past his sell by date. Nigel has never fought a fighter on the sort of quality winning streak I’m on. I have beaten the British champion, Lenny Daws, former European champion, Jason Cook and World number three, Delvin Rodriguez, all in the last seventeen months.
I was disappointed that I ran out of time to knock out Lenny Daws, when winning the British title in February this year. I went into that fight believing I could get a late stoppage win. I nearly did it, when I dropped him twice in the ninth round. I just knew I could knock out Jason Cook in my last fight. I certainly achieved that! I want to knock out Nigel Wright as well. A win is guaranteed, but I will be disappointed if he lasts the full twelve rounds with me.
I train for every fight as if I am training for a world title fight. I expect the very best from myself every time. Nigel Wright is not world class. This is his third attempt to win the British title, and unless he magically turns into either of the current world champions, Amir Khan or Timothy Bradley overnight, he hasn’t got a hope in hell.
I have been sparring with some real world class operators. I am sure my sparring sessions will be harder than my fight with Nigel. Nigel for sure hasn’t sparred with anyone on my level. He will be left bemused by my skill level come show-time.
Nigel has found the ‘losing habit’ at top domestic level. This can be very hard to break out of. Once you get used to losing, it might take a wholesale change of scenery to break out of it. He now knows only too well how to lose, and has become quite good at it.
When the ‘heat gets turned up’ and gets too hot for Nigel in the ring, he doesn’t know how to raise his game like the top fighters do. When under sustained pressure, Nigel tends to disappear into his shell, and moves into survival mode. In front of his home fans in County Durham, Nigel will come out to win, but if he is still standing by round six, he will certainly know that he will be facing only one result and that is a ‘shut out’ win for me. Whatever advice he gets from his corner, Nigel will know it will be just hollow words from a trainer he has shared plenty of losses with.
2012 will be a huge year for me with Hatton Promotions, so I cannot afford any slip up now. Losing to Nigel just doesn’t seem possible and is not on my agenda. Records don’t lie, and our records show we are in different leagues. I’m Tottenham Hotspur and he is Sunderland FC. Just like in the Premier League, we are challenging for top honours and they have just sacked their manager.
My big wins are against world champion Demarcus Corley, world number three, Delvin Rodriguez, British champion, Lenny Daws and European champion, Jason Cook. I just missed out on a win over world number two, Danny Garcia last year. Nigel Wright’s biggest wins are against European champion Alex Arthur, Kevin McIntyre, Dean Hickman and Ross Minter. We operate at two completely different levels. I am a certified world level operator and he is, at best, second tier British level.
I got my MRI scan last week which is part of the comprehensive BBBoC mandatory pre-fight medical checks. It is a necessary annual check and we all agree that it is vital that boxers are healthy, but £300 is still a lot of money to part with. In America, the local commission, or the promoter who is staging the fight, pays for the medicals. Yearly medicals cost around £600, so fighters who are not at championship level or starting out, struggle to pay for this, as well as the £100 for the boxing licence from the BBBoC. Worth a little thought?
Managers and promoters have complained with the price hikes in recent years. With the economy the way it is, everyone is feeling the pinch. Championship level boxers are in the main, well paid, but boxing careers are short, so it is very important to invest your money wisely, carefully and pay your taxes.
Liverpool’s Steve Williams stopped ‘Bulb head’ Karl Place, in Wigan on Saturday night inside two rounds. Karl is a Frank Maloney fighter, who people have been hyping up for the last few months. Steve was Karl’s first real test, and he failed miserably. I sparred with Steve twice in the run up to my title fight with Lenny Daws, up in Liverpool. He is a nice guy and he has a great team around him. Their fight was a British title eliminator, so Steve is now the mandatory challenger for my British title, and we could possibly fight in the summer, if I’m not actively engaged on the world scene by then.
We constantly read and hear that boxing is supposedly ‘dead’, and MMA is supposedly taking over. Well, I’m not so sure, especially after such a weekend of action. MMA does not yet have worldwide quality events like this popping off.
Martin Murray got a draw against Felix Sturm in Germany for the WBA world middleweight title on Friday. He held his own through the twelve rounds, and he can look forward to other big bouts in the 160lb division for 2012.
‘Million Dollar’ Crolla got a good win in Scotland against Willie Limond recently, so Hatton Promotions can look forward to a massive year in 2012. Imagine Martin Murray, Scott Quigg, Anthony Crolla and myself, all on a bumper show perhaps in London or Manchester, now that would be absolutely amazing. Maybe this is something for all of us at Hatton Promotions to think positively about?
WBA heavyweight champion, Alexander Povetkin beat Cedric Boswell in Finland. Former British heavyweight champion, Dereck Chisora lost for the second time in three fights, against Robert Helenius. The vacant European title was on the line. I felt he was badly robbed, as I had Dereck winning clearly by four or five rounds.
It was the best heavyweight fight I have seen in years. If this type of Dereck had showed up against Tyson Fury in July, he would have surely won. Dereck could still get a world title shot with this type of brave loss.
Prince Arron lost his British light middleweight title to Brian Rose in Lancashire.
Abnar Mares and Joseph Abeko got it on again for the IBF bantamweight title in California after their controversial world title fight last time. I have sparred with Joseph, and I am not surprised that he is a world level fighter now. He unfortunately lost again, but he can look forward to another world title shot in the near future.
In the big fight of the weekend, Miguel Cotto beat Antonio Margarito in their long awaited grudge rematch. I’ve been a big fan of Miguel Cotto since his tenth fight, when he beat Justin Juuko and I’ve been following him ever since. Cotto out boxed Margarito superbly for nine rounds; making very good use of his lateral movement and fast combinations. The ringside doctors advised the referee, Steve Smoger to stop the fight. I think this win perhaps provides support to those that have long felt that Margarito had ‘loaded’ gloves in their first fight.
Miguel has been mentioned as a possible opponent for Floyd Mayweather on May 5th in Las Vegas. I’m really pleased that justice was done, and Miguel did exactly what he set out to do.
I beat Delvin Rodriguez last year in a fight which could have gone either way. Delvin bounced back on the Cotto/Margarito bill, with a draw against the rugged world rated light middleweight, Pawel Wolak. This rematch also lived up to all pre-fight expectations, and Delvin got a very good win. I’m happy for him. Another world title shot is surely going to happen next year.
John Murray challenged WBA lightweight champion, Brandon Rios also on the undercard in Madison Square Garden. Rios failed to make the weight, but still managed to stop John in an action packed fight. Rios is being tipped as a future star, so there is no shame in the loss. Two losses in a row is not ideal for John, but maybe he can get a fight with European champion, Gavin Rees, as that would be another action packed fight.
Brandon Rios lost his title on the scales, and could be moving to my weight division next year, so you never know I could be in the opposite corner to him. I have certainly got the boxing skills and defence to beat him. I have stood up to fully blown welterweights before, so I would have no problem with his power.
It was a great weekend of action packed world class boxing, from all around the world.
MMA eat your heart out!
Next weekend is my turn.
I sparred with my good friend Ajose Olusegun in my last week of training camp at Gleason’s gym. We have sparred so many times in the United Kingdom. We have sparred in London’s finest boxing gyms, from All Stars in Paddington, to Kronk in Kentish Town, to MyGym in Finchley and now Gleason’s gym in New York City.
I helped Ajose get ready for his fights with Nigel Wright, so it was nice that he repaid the favour. It was much more of a mental than physical boost, as I rate Ajose as one of the best fighters I have ever sparred with, alongside with Joan Guzman. I have learned loads from Ajose, so I am very pleased that he is on the verge of becoming the WBC world champion. He is now the mandatory challenger for WBC champion Erik Morales.
Ajose is the last man to beat Nigel Wright two years ago.
I am feeling in very good form. I was spoilt for choice for sparring in this camp. I sparred with former WBA 147lb world champion, Luis Collazo, two time WBC 147lb world title challenger, Raul Frank, IBF 130lb world title challenger, Argenis Mendez, WBA 140lb world title challenger, Dmitriy Salita, former IBF 140lb world number three, Francisco Figueroa, WBC 140lb world number one, Ajose Olusegun, and WBC 122lb world number five, Leon Moore.
That is some list.
I have personally arranged all the above sparring, which just goes to show ‘the love and respect’ I have, and get from my fellow professionals in New York City. Not to mention my self-belief in only wanting to mix it with the very best.
The talent I have been sparring for this camp is on the level of what Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao would have at their disposal. So I really do appreciate the fighters and trainers who helped me get the absolute best out of my body. I completed 132 rounds sparring over my seven week training camp. I am more than ready.
My weight is around 146lbs, with two weeks to go until my weigh-in for the bout. I weighed in at 138lbs for my fight with Jason Cook. I normally put on 10lbs between the weigh in and the fight.
The week of my fight with Lenny Daws I was really sick. I was on the verge of pulling out. I did not turn up at the press conference as I did not want to give Lenny Daws a mental boost by seeing me unwell. In the end, despite not pleasing the promoter, (I needed a doctor’s note proving my illness) it worked out fine, as he didn’t know whether I was just struggling with the weight, or if I was perhaps just showing him a lack of respect by not turning up. Those who know me well know that I’m a complete professional and would never miss anything I’m signed up to do.
Spring Creek Towers was my hardest workout of the week. I am laser focused and highly motivated at the moment, which helps me get through the session. The pain you go through whilst running up the tower block is excruciating. I completed eighteen floors twelve times. It took me just under forty minutes. It was three thousand and twenty four steps.
This is my first week back in London, and I have had a busy week.
This week I completed 29 hours of training having only Sunday as a rest day. On Sunday I took a massage to refresh my body and revitalise my muscles.
I took a week off sparring following the 132 rounds of special sparring in New York City.
My strength and cardiovascular training is second to none. I am feeling in great shape, eating well and looking forward to win number thirty one.
I thought Jason Cook would have beaten Nigel Wright, if their British title eliminator had gone ahead. I am basically fighting the British Boxing Board of Control’s (BBBC’s) top two contenders ‘back to back’, so in 2011 I will have beaten the best 140lb fighters in Britain in the BBBC’s view.
In my opinion, Nigel Wright is very similar to my two previous fights; Lenny Daws and Jason Cook. He has heart, is well-conditioned and comes to win. Same approach, same mould – just a different name.
In my view, he brings nothing ‘new’ to the table and will crumble when put under pressure, just like Daws and Cook before him.
Nigel couldn’t beat Ajose Olusegun, Lenny Daws and Paul McCloskey, therefore he hasn’t got a chance of getting a result against me.
Hometown or not!
The British Boxing Board of Control awards dinner is a major event in the British boxing calendar, and it was a particular honour to be invited to the event.
Lloyd Honeyghan shared the same table. He is one of my favourite British boxers. He did the unthinkable and beat the ‘pound for pound’ champion, Don Curry, in America. I took a photo with him and my promoter, Ricky Hatton, at the event. Amir Khan’s business adviser/lawyer was also on the same table, representing Amir.
Amir won the ‘Fighter of the Year’ award.
Some of Britain’s best fighters both past and present where at the awards; George Groves, Junior Witter, Kevin Mitchell, Barry McGuigan and Gavin Rees to name but a few.
I had my check weigh-in with a BBBC inspector on Wednesday. My weight is on target, as usual, so that is not an issue. I think most boxers would say that losing weight is the hardest part of our job. Training hard for me comes naturally. Losing weight is something I do not enjoy, but it is an essential part of my job, so I do it healthily and slowly over a two month period.
This was the fourth year of All Stars boxing gym’s Mayor Cup at Porchester Hall. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, turned up as usual, providing great support for the cause.
Jamal Akay won the Mayor Cup for the second year in a row. He put in a great performance. He showed ‘ring smarts’, a boxing brain, speed, skill and he was determined to win. His mother, Terri Kelly, is an amateur boxing judge who was in attendance. His father, Mr. Akay, who founded All Stars boxing gym, some 37 years ago, was also watching on.
I don’t know how they were feeling, but I was on the edge of my seat. Mr. Akay started All Stars boxing gym for his son, Teejay Akay, back in the seventies. Teejay went to the 1984 Olympics, losing to the great Evander Holyfield in the last eight. Teejay would go on to win the British cruiserweight title in his 7th professional fight which is still a record to this day.
On Friday, Sky Sports filmed me for their first class ‘Ringside’ TV programme, and my fight preview with Nigel Wright. For two hours at All Stars gym, I was interviewed, had my training filmed and completed some promotional shots. Hatton TV were also there, and my documentary crew were there to film from a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective.
I was named in ESPN’s New York City’s ‘Pound 4 Pound’ fighters list. I came in at twelve.
New York has many talented fighters such as Joan Guzman, Yuri Foreman, Peter Quillin, Argenis Mendez, Zab Judah, Sechew Powell and Daniel Jacobs. So it was nice and positive to be mentioned in the same breath as these fighters.
After such a positive time in New York, it is sad to learn that we have lost some brilliant ambassadors for our sport of boxing.
Sadly, business man, Gus Robinson, who is very well known in the Sunderland area, where my next fight is being held, died last week at the age of 62. He was Nigel Wright’s manager. Nigel must be feeling the loss, but at the same time, it will fuel a burning desire in Nigel to push himself to the limit to win the British title for Gus.
It would be nice and appropriate if a ‘ten bell’ salute was held before our British title bout. My sincere condolences go out to Gus Robinson’s family and friends.
Mick Carney of Fitzroy Lodge died last weekend. He was a great guy and it is a shame to see that his life and major contribution to amateur boxing is over.
I had my first fight with All Stars at Fitzroy Lodge against Manus Barber. I went onto have a trilogy with Manus, losing two of the three. All three fights were very close, but I didn’t receive the decision.
Mick has been a friend to All Stars for over 30 years and he will be missed by many of the All Stars members.
Patrick Ford died just over a week ago. He put Guyana on the boxing map during his career. He once fought greats like Salvador Sanchez in 1980, and Eusebio Pedroza in 1981.
He finished his career with a record of 17-4. Guyanese fighters like Lennox Blackmoore, Wayne Braithwaite, Raul Frank and Vivian Harris all came after him. He paved the way.
Patrick used to be a coach at Gleason’s gym so it is very sad to hear of his passing.
We are in the toughest of industries and we put our bodies under the most severe pressure, and our careers are never as long as most others. There are some very special people like Gus, Mick and Patrick who give so much, so that we can make the most of our time in this tough and unforgiving industry.
Gentlemen, we salute you.
Last week I got through some of the most physically and mentally draining sparring sessions I have had in my life.
I’ve sparred with some of New York City’s best southpaws; who have been strong, skilful and lightning fast. If my fight with Nigel Wright was next week, I would be physically ready.
I loved my intense sparring with world title challenger, Argenis Mendez, whilst not a southpaw, he has skills, speed and experience at the highest level. It has been a truly wonderful experience to help each other, as he is fighting this weekend in his native Dominican Republic. We completed around twenty five rounds. The gym would always stop and watch us when we went at it, as it was very competitive.
The Dominican Republic has produced two other skilful fighters over the last five years in Joan Guzman and Elio Rojas, who have been world champions. I have sparred with both of them in the past at Gleason’s gym.
Elio used to be trained by Lennox Blackmoore, when I first came to Gleason’s gym in 2005. Elio would play with many of the fighters in the gym but I held my own with him. His manager Antonio Tineo was so impressed that he wanted to sign me.
On occasion you spar with some fighters, and you just know they are destined to be a world champion and I knew that from when I first sparred with Elio.
Sparring with former IBF world number three, Francisco ‘Gato’ Figueroa, has been very worthwhile. Twenty two rounds of quality southpaw work for me. ‘Gato’ got to world contender status, but after dropping Randall Bailey in their world title eliminator, he got caught with a great shot and was stopped. Randall isn’t called the ‘KO Kid’ for no reason.
Randall and I had a slanging match over Twitter and Facebook, in the lead up to my fight with Jason Cook, as he accused me of ducking him, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe I would and could beat him, but I was offered just half of what I earned to fight Lenny Daws for the British title. So as they say in America, “If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense”. The IBF later dropped me by ten places for not accepting the disrespectful offer from the promoters for that world title eliminator.
Andre Berto has just vacated the IBF Welterweight strap for the same reason I rejected the Bailey fight. HBO declined to televise it, as they wanted a rematch with Victor Ortiz for Berto instead, which looks to go ahead in January, if promoter Lou DiBella gets his way.
Speaking of Lou DiBella, he did a great job with Paul Malignaggi, and he has another, if not more talented fighter in Ajose Olusegun. I’m optimistic Ajose will get his shot at the WBC 140lb title by next summer.
I completed twelve rounds sparring with WBC world number five, Leon Moore, who is a talented southpaw; very fast and skilful.
Luis Collazo, the former world champion was really great sparring for me. I hadn’t even been in New York for twenty four hours, and I was sparring this experienced fighter, who also happened to be a southpaw.
In this camp I have been really spoilt for quality sparring that you just cannot buy. Luis was fighting the following week against Freddy Hernandez, who Andre Berto had previously knocked out.
I really enjoyed the session I had with Luis. He was strong, fast and skilful. That sparring session alone made me feel like my trip to New York was worthwhile, and that was just my first day here.
I sparred eight rounds with my good friend, Dmitriy Salita. Dmitriy is a former WBA world number one and world title challenger. Both he and Matthew Hatton are eyeing a tilt at the WBA interim champion, Ismael El Massoudi, at Madison Square Garden in January. As Ricky Hatton is my promoter and Dimitriy is a good friend, I’m sitting on the fence on this one.
I have sparred with Dean and Scott Burrell for my fights going back to Danny Garcia, Delvin Rodriguez, Lenny Daws and Jason Cook. I rate these fighting twins. They were born in New York City, but raised in London, where they learned their craft.
They came back to New York to hook up with trainer Hector Roca, who has worked with many world champions in his career. If these fighters don’t get up to world contender status, I will only have their manager to blame, as they have all the basics in place. It’s just to manage them right and get the right fights at the right time. I know I make it sound sort of easy, but their precocious talent deserves contender status.
Scott said the other day that he has seen many world champions and world contenders come through Gleason’s gym, but I work the hardest out of everyone. That’s a big compliment which I truly appreciate! As I tell the twins, “you control your destiny so you have to give it your all”.
Far too many ex-fighters have deep regrets and I do not intend to share that feeling. I will continue to give my all to the sport of boxing, so in six years when I retire, I will have gone as far as my talent, hard work and dedication could take me.
Shawn Cameron and Mikkel Lespierre from Gleason’s gym are part of the coaching team for Joan Guzman and Argenis Mendez the two talented southpaws. They are two of the finest amateurs in New York City. I completed fifteen rounds with these guys and it was great work for me.
WBC world number one, Ajose Olusegun, who is now mandatory challenger to Erik Morales, is back in New York City.
As I helped him prepare for his wins over Nigel Wright, he has helped me as I defend my title against Wright. Ajose is one of the best southpaws in the world, and it was a great mental boost to complete some rounds with him. We have been sparring for over ten years now. I remember after some of our sessions in London, that people watching would comment it was better than fights they had been to and that we should charge for our sparring sessions.
I am 100% sure Ajose Olusegun will be world champion in 2012.
I have really been spoilt for quality in this training camp. In my last week of sparring I went rounds with Francisco Figueroa, Leon Moore, Dmitriy Salita and Ajose Olusegun. Birds of a feather flock together. I surround myself with top fighters, as that keeps me raising my game.
2012 will see me defend my British title once more, as my endeavour is to own my very own Lonsdale belt outright.
After that I am targeting fights with Lamont Peterson, Humberto Soto, Marcos Maidana and Erik Morales. I’m working with Hatton Promotions to secure fights of this calibre next year. If I can get a fight with one of those four in 2012, I will be a very happy man.
My outstanding seven week training camp in New York City was the hardest I’ve ever put my body through. I have three weeks left until I fight Nigel Wright, and there will only be one winner and that is me. Whatever he tries to do I will have an answer for. I will break him down and then dismantle him, just like Jason Cook and Lenny Daws before him.
The weekly boxing programme, Ringside on Sky Sports in the UK, announced a big night of world boxing for 10th December when I fight Nigel Wright in the United Kingdom.
Action starts with the defence of my British title, and then moves to Germany, where Wladimir Klitschko defends his IBO, IBF, WBA and WBO world titles against David Haye former victim, Jean Mormeck.
To round off the night’s action, Amir Khan fights Lamont Peterson in Washington DC. Peterson declined to fight Khan in the UK in March, so Khan is now going behind ‘enemy lines’ just like I’m doing on the same night. My last fight was also on the same night as Khan’s last fight when I dismantled Jason Cook, and I’m expecting the same result for the both of us again.
I see all three of us champions regaining our titles.
Juan Manuel Marquez has in my opinion been hit with the wrong decision for the third time with Manny Pacquiao. I also thought he won the first two fights with Pacman.
Manny has been in the form of his life recently, but Marquez seems to be too technical for him. Manuel is 38 years old now. Promoter Bob Arum has offered him another rematch, and Freddy Roach thinks that he deserves another shot, but what will it prove now? He has lost twice and drawn once with Manny when it should be the other way round.
Bad decisions are part of boxing and I have been at the end of a few of them in my career, so I know how much it hurts. The public saw Manuel ‘robbed’, so he can hold his head up high.
Manny is the ‘cash cow’ at Top Rank at the moment, and a 100 million dollar fight with Floyd Mayweather is on the table and everyone involved is clearly aware of this.
Floyd Mayweather played with Marquez when they fought a couple years ago. Manny struggles with boxers, as was seen with Shane Mosley and Marquez. In my opinion, Floyd will dispose of Manny, all he needs to do is take the random style drug test and the richest fight in history will commence.
Felix Sturm was robbed blind when he fought Oscar De la Hoya in America. Oscar was due to fight Bernard Hopkins in his next fight, and Oscar became a seven time world champion with that win. Sometimes the business of boxing gets in the way of the sport of boxing.
2011 has been the year of numerous bad decisions. It seems such a shame when the wrong man wins.
Timothy Bradley beat a 40 year old Joel Casamayor, which was a pointless defence of his WBO strap. I rate Bradley as the ‘numero uno’ in the 140lbs division, but Amir Khan is willing to put his 147lbs campaign on hold, for a clash of the two best in the division. Hopefully, it will happen in 2012, just like the Mayweather Pacquiao should happen.
It was very sad to hear that the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Joe Frazier, passed away last week. A really sad moment for all of us connected to the world of boxing. He was one of the greatest heavyweights to grace the sport of boxing.
He had three seminal wars with Muhammad Ali with the ‘Thriller in Manila’ being one of the greatest fights in the history of boxing.
Their first fight was rightly titled the ‘Fight of the Century’ which was at Madison Square Garden in 1971.
When my father learned that I wanted to take up boxing as a career, he got me a collection of all the greatest fighters in boxing history. Smokin’ Joe Frazier was one of those fighters.
Joe was a true warrior and his legacy will continue to inspire and forever be told.
A really sad note to end a brilliant and ‘super intense’ seven weeks training camp in New York.
IN THE ZONE
This is my sixth week of training camp in New York City and the intensity is getting towards boiling point. This will be my hardest week of sparring.
I will be working with world class operators. 122lbs WBC world number three, Leon Moore, 130lbs IBF world number five, Argenis Mendez and former 140lbs world number three, Francisco Figueroa, through Monday to Friday. I may even get some rounds with my friend, 140lbs WBC number one, Ajose Olusegun, as he is back at Gleason’s gym.
I had my first day off in five weeks on Sunday in order to restore my energy levels for the week ahead of me.
I am now in the zone, and everyone in the gym can see that I am in great shape, both mentally and physically.
I came into camp weighing 159lbs, and I have dropped 11lbs over the last five weeks.
I am currently 148lbs, and my target was to leave here at 147lbs; so all is precisely on point.
When I get back to London I will have three more weeks until I fight Nigel Wright. All the hard work will have been done and I will just keep my strength and cardiovascular conditioning going. My UK trainer, Dave Brown will complete my preparation with technical and speed work.
People think I’m looking better than ever and I’m feeling in supreme shape.
Nigel Wright has earned a good reputation in Britain amongst his peers, but without a hint of complacency, I just can’t see how he can beat me.
In terms of technical ability, Power, Speed, Experience, ‘Chin’ and Conditioning, Nigel comes in second place to me.
Nutrition in sport, but especially in boxing, is just as important as the training you do. If you eat junk food your body will produce junk, garbage in – garbage out.
Learning about nutrition should be standard for all athletes. As the food, vitamins and sports products you put in your body on a regular basis can give you as much as 10% increased performance over your rivals, who are not as disciplined.
I am currently using High5 bars, gels and drinks. Wellman Sport and Wellman Immunace are two Vitabiotics supplements that I use on a regular basis and the results are there for all to witness.
Before my fight I will be attending the Boxing Board of Control’s Annual Boxing Awards and also The Mayor Cup, which is hosted by All Stars Boxing gym at the Porchester Hall in Bayswater, London. This will feature some of England’s best amateurs and future professional champions. London‘s Mayor, Boris Johnson, will be in attendance.
Controversially, Juan Manuel Marquez has hired strength conditioner, Angel Hernandez to help him prepare for his fight with Manny Pacquiao.
Angel Hernandez is, in fact, Angel “Memo” Heredia. Heredia is an admitted steroid dealer who provided performance-enhancing drugs to athletes indicted in the infamous BALCO steroid scandal.
Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and money laundering, and was consequently sentenced to four months in prison in 2005. This did not prevent some athletes from working with him after he was released.
Heredia reportedly testified that he provided anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to track coach Trevor Graham, and several athletes, such as Antonio Pettigrew, Jerome Young, Duane Ross, Garfield Ellenwood, Dennis Mitchell and Randall Evans in exchange for immunity for prosecution.
Conte currently works with professional athletes such as British track star Dwain Chambers and bantamweight boxer Nonito Donaire.
Pacquiao has his own alleged dramas going on in the build up to their trilogy fight.
Pound-for-pound boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is allegedly cheating on his wife. The Internet and Filipino media have reported that Manny ‘stepped out’ on his wife, Jinkee, with actress Krista Ranillo. Manny and Ranillo have both denied an affair.
Manny and Krista co-star in the upcoming movie “Wapakman” and are said to have began their relationship on the set.
The latest allegations of Pacquiao’s infidelities come on the heels of a 2009 photo of Manny dancing closely with an unknown woman, a 2007 rumoured fling with actress Ara Mina, and his 2006 admission to an affair with Joanna Rose Bascoa, with whom he allegedly has a child.
In our world of social media and the internet, there are very few ‘well kept’ secrets; everyone with a Smartphone is a paparazzi photographer and a budding journalist. No reputation is safe or untouched.
Floyd Mayweather has said he is willing to fight Manny on May 5th in Las Vegas, when and if Manny beats Marquez.
On current form I think Manny will beat Marquez. In my opinion I think Marquez won the two first fights, but on recent form, I just cannot see Manny losing this fight as Marquez seems unable to be as competitive above 135lbs. This fight is made at ‘catch weight’ 144lbs.
This last weekend was a big night for fights on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a fabulous weekend of boxing.
Frank Warren put on an entertaining show at Wembley Arena, where my last two fights have taken place.
George Groves beat Paul Smith in the second round with a peach of a punch. George Groves has a very good team behind him. Frank Warren knows how to guide fighters to a world title. Adam Booth and David Haye have been there already so they know what steps George needs to make at the right time. George will get a world title shot. It will be down to him whether he wins it or not. James Degale is in a rush for a world title shot, where George is more patient and willing to bide his time.
Where does Paul Smith go from here? He has lost two fights against talented pros but novices all the same. James and George had under fifteen fights and both won by stoppages over Paul. Paul may have to drop to the 160lb division to re-launch his career. He is too young to call it a day, but at 168lb his options seem to be very limited.
Michael Katsidis and Ricky Burns put on a very good display of boxing. The classic ‘boxer versus puncher’. Burns proved he is world class, and I actually think he has a good chance against WBC world champion Brandon Rios. Burns could be in line to fight 135lbs number one Marquez for the world WBO title in 2012.
Frank Warren has not lost his knack at putting on entertaining shows in big arenas across the United Kingdom.
In Canada, Lucien Bute beat old warhorse, Glen Johnson, in a dull fight. The two top 168lb fighters, Carl Froch and Andre Ward, face each other next month. Bute will need to fight one of them to prove himself, as he has been defending his title against ‘B’ level opposition whilst Ward and Froch have fought the world’s elite.
In Mexico, James Kirkland pounded out Alfredo Angulo. What a fight!! The first round was a slugfest and the best one round action I have seen in 2011. Kirkland spent time in jail for gun possession, and was knocked out upon being released from prison in his comeback fight.
He split with long-time trainer, Anne Wolfe, just beforehand, and that is seen as the reason why he lost. Angulo dropped Kirkland within the first 30 seconds and it seemed like ‘deja vu’ for Kirkland. Angulo punched himself out, and Kirkland came back later in the round to drop and nearly finish Angulo.
Kirkland ground down Angulo to win by a TKO in round five. He’s back. This win was an eliminator for WBC 154lbs champion, Saul Alvarez’s title.
Kid Chocolate handled business, beating Scotsman Craig McEwan on the undercard. I met Craig at the Wildcard gym back in 2009. Former Scottish boxer, Gary Young, was also there. Now Gary trains Craig back in Scotland. This was Craig’s second straight loss after losing to Andy Lee.
Will Golden Boy Promotions stand by Craig or will he be released from his promotional contract? Whatever happens, the 160lb Division is alive and kicking in Britain with Martin Murray, Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker. So Craig could get back in the mix there.
Its four weeks before my title defence and I’m absolutely in the zone.
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH
It’s the end of my fourth week of training camp and this week’s workouts have been my most intensive so far. I was excited about the high level of sparring I had arranged and it did not disappoint for a moment.
25 intense rounds with former world title challenger, Argenis Mendez, former world number three Francisco ‘Gato’ Figueroa, and skilful prospects Dean and Scott Burrell at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn.
In Britain, you just cannot get this level of sparring. I’m sparring consistently against some of the best in the world who are based in New York.
The high level of sparring is bringing out the very best in me. Former two time world title challenger, Raul Frank, has seen my sparring sessions this week, and commented that “this is the best he has seen (of me) in all the years I have been coming to New York”.
My friend Francisco ‘Gato’ Figueroa, who lost to Randall Bailey in a world title eliminator two years ago, said after our sparring session that he can see my improvement. Our sparring sessions are legendary and can be seen on his ‘webisodes’, going back nearly four years when we initially met up in the Catskills mountains. He had been hired as a sparring partner for Delvin Rodriguez. We built a friendship from there, and he gave me some good laughs whilst I was focusing on my fight with Ali Oubaali.
My sparring session with Argenis Mendez had people stop their workouts to watch us go at it. He is a skilful fighter who went to the Olympics, representing his country, the Dominican Republic.
Joan Guzman is his country’s leading fighter and he is just behind him. So that speaks volumes of the talent he has.
A trainer who has worked at Gleason’s gym over the last two years commented after watching a sparring session of mine, that I’m “the first real active fighter” that he has seen here. He, like many of the other trainers has been impressed by the work that I put myself through. They have seen world champions come through the doors and they can see that I have that world champion potential.
I am the most experienced current British champion. Two more defences and I can move back on the world stage. I am very proud to be British champion, and taking time out from my long term goal of fighting the world’s best, to have a Lonsdale belt for keeps obviously means a lot to me.
2012 will see new light welterweight world champions for the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF organisations as Amir Khan and Timothy Bradley will both move up to welterweight, and Erik Morales will move down to lightweight.
Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse, Humberto Soto and Lamont Peterson will be the fighters next in line for any vacant titles. I am willing to fight any of them, and I am capable of beating them, as my record suggests.
Too many British fighters expect the big fights to ‘come to them’, and in the end that is why many big fights do not happen for them. Maidana, Matthysse, Soto and Peterson are on my ‘hit-list’ and I will be working with Hatton Promotions to make these fights happen in the near future. There is a healthy buzz at Hatton’s at the moment.
Former world champion, Yuri Foreman, was sparring this week in Gleason’s gym. I remained behind to watch him go through some rounds. He is a talented fighter who is studying to be a rabbi. I sparred with Yuri a few years ago and it was an enjoyable experience. I’m sure we’ll spar again in the future.
Iran Barkley was also in the gym this week. He had some wars with Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns, James Toney, Michael Nunn, Roberto Duran, Trevor Berbick and Nigel Benn. Iran fought a ‘who’s who’ of boxing. Seeing ex-fighter’s like him inspire me to fight the elite but also serve to ensure that I don’t stay in boxing too long.
My goal is to have 20 more wins and 6 more fights in the US. Finishing my career with 50 wins, fighting in America, winning titles and investing my ring earnings wisely, are at the forefront of my mind.
I’ve earned my reputation as a globe-trotting fighter and Michael Katsidis has earned a similar reputation. He will fight anyone, anywhere. He fights Ricky Burns this weekend, at my favourite UK venue, Wembley Arena.
After acknowledging that he was struggling at the weight, Ricky Burns gave up his WBO 130lbs title. It is also clear that Frank Warren is not keen on his champions travelling to the US for risky assignments. Ricky has been rewarded with a fight with Katsidis up at 135lbs.
Katsidis is proven world class, with fights against the very best in the lightweight division Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, Juan Marquez, Jesus Chavez, Vincent Escobedo and Robert Guerrero.
The ‘Brit Basher’ as Katsidis is now known has already knocked out two of Frank Warren’s fighters in the past; Graham Earl and Kevin Mitchell. I used to spar with Graham when I was a novice professional and it was good sparring at that time in my career. I was his main sparring partner when he was supposed to challenge for the European title, that fight never happened due to Juan Carlos Diaz Melero picking up an injury whilst training.
Ricky Burns came to real prominence when he beat Graham Earl in an eight rounder, back in 2005 when he was just 9-0 and Graham was the reigning British champion. So he is obviously talented, but it is questionable whether that is talent enough to win him the fight this weekend. Katsidis has experience that you cannot buy. Katsidis has only lost to the best in the business.
Ricky’s trainer asked me if I was interested in helping them out with sparring in the preparation for this fight. I would have loved to have gone up to Scotland, but if Ricky can pull this one off, possibly in the future we can make it happen.
Other than Amir Khan, there is no one from the 135lbs to 147lbs divisions in Britain more experienced and successful as I have been on the world scene. I understand why they would call upon me for sparring.
Another British fighter who is known for his potential is Frankie Gavin. He was the first British world amateur gold medallist. He called me ‘out’ after my title win over Lenny Daws, and continued to challenge me, despite his poor performance in wins over Young Mutley and Curtis Woodhouse.
I never watched Frankie as an amateur, so I don’t know of the amazing talent he is supposed to have, as the two professional fights of his I have watched had me dosing off. I wasn’t impressed with his wins over Lomax and Mutley.
Frankie failed to make weight for the Olympics and missed out on winning a medal which he was the favourite for.
Frank Warren signed him in a blaze of publicity and probably thought he had the next Amir Khan, but so far this has proven not to be the case.
Ricardo Williams, Olympic silver medallist probably had even more talent than Frankie Gavin. He beat my friend, Ajose Olusegun, in the 2000 Olympic quarter finals. Some in the US said he had more talent that Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Lou DiBella signed him to a promotional agreement and gave him a reported 1.2 million dollars as a signing on fee but he threw away his talent. He ended up in prison for dealing in narcotics.
Boxing is littered with talented fighters that never make the grade. You can only get so far with talent alone. It’s the hours you spend in the gym and on the road that makes champions.
Frankie has had some difficult personal problems, and if what I have recently heard is true, then we might all better understand why he could not go through with the fight. I hope he can get over this and get on with his career.
Dean Byrne took Frankie Gavin’s spot against Frenchman Frank Haroche Horta. I know Dean from my time at the TKO gym in Canning Town. We sparred then and also when I took a trip to the Wildcard gym in Los Angeles, where he was based for a couple years under Freddie Roach.
Dean has sparred with Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao loads of times amongst a host of other top fighters, so he has the talent. It’s up to him how far he goes now. He lost to Horta but he took the fight on just 24 hours’ notice, after fighting the week before.
He took one for the team and I’m sure Frank Warren will repay him for saving the show which was live on Box Nation.
It’s a tough old sport.
NO LET UP
Leon ‘Solid’ Williams won the British Cruiserweight title last Friday night against Rob Norton at the York Hall in London.
This was a great win for Williams as he has had only 11 fights, especially when comparing this to Norton’s 38 fights.
Norton seemed to control the pace for the first part of the fight whilst Williams continued to bob and weave whilst moving forward with little effect.
The ‘championship rounds’ are where Williams won the fight, as Norton seemed to be struggling to maintain his earlier momentum.
Williams and I have trained at three of the same gyms in our careers; The Kronk, in Kentish Town, My Gym in Finchley and the TKO Gym in Canning Town. We have also featured on a few small hall shows together. We were regulars on Leftjab Promotions Sunday shows at the York Hall.
Promoter Miranda Carter now has two current British champions who have built and learned their trade on her shows. She should be very proud of herself.
Leon used to box at the same amateur boxing club, Fitzroy Lodge, as recently ‘retired’ David Haye.
Speaking of David Haye, who ‘officially’ retired, as he always promised he would, on his recent 31st Birthday. His autobiography has just come out; ‘Making Haye’. It should be a good read as he has just about done it all. He was European champion, plus he effectively cleaned up at cruiserweight winning the WBO, WBA and WBC titles, as well as the WBA world heavyweight title.
David has had a very successful boxing career and his heavyweight title fights have each earned him more than seven figures, leaving him more than enough to retire on.
He aims to pursue a career in acting. I really believe David can do anything he sets his mind to. I wish him all the very best of luck for the future.
I had a nice surprise when the Chicago Boxing News recently offered me a monthly column. This will give me a new platform to share my thoughts and feelings on the world of boxing and the many other topics and subjects that enter my world.
Jarrell Miller is a young American heavyweight prospect and we share the same trainers, Harry Keit and Jihad Abulaziz at Gleason’s gym here in Brooklyn. He has been retained by Wladimir Klitschko as his sparring partner for his last three fights.
Tyson Fury met him during a training stint with Emmanuel Steward last year. On his recommendation, Mick Hennessey has flown Jarrell over to the UK, to help Tyson with his sparring preparations for his November 12th fight.
Jarrell will also fight on the undercard. Jarrell is a talented heavyweight, but we know talent only brings you so far in this sport. Who knows, maybe Hennessey Promotions might just sign up Miller. He could well be a potential future heavyweight champion and perhaps a rival to Fury in the future.
Miller has impressed me and is a promotional free agent, so don’t be shocked if he is signed up by a savvy promoter in the coming months. He certainly has the ability to get to the top, but it’s up to him to maintain that desire and hard work to get there.
Former multi weight world champion, Joan Guzman, is currently also training at Gleason’s gym. He is making a comeback after being suspended for using a banned weight loss substance.
He will be campaigning at my weight (140lbs), which is already a talent packed division as it is.
He was due to fight Amir Khan in Manchester, but after failing to make weight for the third time in his career, he lost out on the opportunity.
Despite all his career setbacks, he is still the most talented fighter I have sparred with in my career so far.
Former fighter John Duddy passed through Gleason’s gym in the week. Duddy was an Irish amateur star and had a decent career as a professional.
I’m in my third week of training camp in New York City. Everything is going to plan. My boxing trainers, Harry and Jihad are definitely getting the best out of me. I am feeling sharp and fluid.
Even in this ultra-competitive environment, it is clear to me that no one trains as consistently hard as I do. Talent only gets you so far. The hard work you are prepared to put in, day-in and day-out, makes the impossible, possible.
I’m particularly proud of my cardiovascular and strength training; 4 hour sessions which can include 6 mile runs, swimming, cycling, yoga, Pilates and strength sessions. It sounds tough and believe you me, they are seriously tough. You have to love what you do, to do this regime – regularly.
My fourth week will see me sparring world title challenger, Argenis Mendez, WBC world number 4, Leon Moore, Francisco ‘Gato’ Figueroa, who fought in a world title eliminator against Randall Bailey, and the Burrell twins who are skilful prospects, whom I always work with when I come over here. This is not a programme for the faint of heart.
I’m half way through my training camp in New York City and I’m already feeling the real benefits of coming out here.
In six weeks, I will be making the second defence my British title and I am 100% confident that I will win.
The quality of sparring, boxing training and conditioning I am enjoying here is still a world apart from what is currently available in the UK. Coming away to training camp is not cheap but it’s well worth every dollar. David Haye once said that his training camps in Miami were so costly that he didn’t make any money until he was world cruiserweight champion. You must invest in yourself and you will reap the benefits in the long run.
My next defence is at the Peterlee leisure centre in Sunderland, where Nigel Wright fought my friend, Ajose Olusegun for the British title nearly four years ago. I am aiming at making it ‘déjà vu’ night for Nigel.
Promoter Frank Maloney has given him home advantage but that will not help him against me. He will lose for the seventh time in his career and have to do some thinking about his future. Every time he has stepped up in class he has lost. This will be no different.
Nigel is on a decent run of four wins but he wasn’t facing championship class opposition.
All the same, having recently appeared on Premier Sport, ESPN and Channel Five shows, it will be nice to be on Sky Sports again, as it has been nearly five years since my last appearance on the channel.