Pavlik explains frustration at Hopkins and Martinez defeats and why he left boxing at 30
Part 2 of our interview with former middleweight champion Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik
“To be dead honest, for some odd reason a fighter always has excuses and if I say anything the media like to dissect what I say…”
As a fight fan of over twenty years, one result which has never made sense to me was Bernard Hopkins’ upset of Kelly Pavlik in October 2009. Coming off a split loss to Joe Calzaghe, the 43-year-old Hopkins, also a long-reigning middleweight champion, had dropped the Welsh southpaw in the first but had looked lethargic as the bout progressed. Against the 17-years-younger current middleweight king though, Hopkins looked energetic, sharp and business-like.
At the close of twelve shocking rounds in which both would be deducted a point each (Kelly for rabbit-punching, Hopkins for holding), “The Executioner” would take the victory by scores of 119-106, 118-108 and 117-109. It was a massive surprise for all to see; the man on the rise not just beaten but thoroughly out-classed.
“It all started playing golf before the fight” begins Kelly. “I was just taking my shot on a par three and my friend noticed a ‘softball’ on the back of my arm. I went to see the doctor to have it drained but it was still feeling tender when I was sparring so I couldn’t spar before the fight.”
“I put a brace on my arm but it wasn’t comfortable and I started getting paranoid in camp that it was giving me bad habits. Then I got tendonitis because I over-exaggerated a punch I threw…I was hard headed and thought I could still go through with the fight even after only sparring two-and-a half times before the fight.”
If the two injuries were a bad enough burden to bear, things were about to go from bad to worse for the middleweight champion…
“The day before we left for the airport I came down with bronchitis, I started wheezing and the doctor picked up on it during my medical. We didn’t want any information about the situation getting leaked out as we knew Hopkins was always looking for things like that.”
“We were searching for something to take which wouldn’t interfere with the post-fight drugs test but there wasn’t anything; I couldn’t even use an inhaler as it had a steroid in. I didn’t want to even get out of bed but I still didn’t want to cancel.”
“It showed in the fight I was just so lethargic. My trainer Jack Loew was trying to gear me up but I just didn’t have anything. I kept waiting thinking I’d warm up but by the sixth or seventh round I just said ‘I’m not going to get knocked out but I’m never going to win so I’m going to just go out on my shield’…if you look at my fights with Taylor and Lockett at my body…then see me ten pounds heavier against Hopkins the difference is amazing. I just looked out of shape in that fight…”
Pavlik also has a final thought regarding Hopkins’ own conditioning in the bout.
“Around that time there was all that talk about Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao (regarding Mayweather’s refusal to the fight as he thought Pacquiao was on PED’s). Look at Hopkins in our fight, everything was square, even his jaw. He was the perfect physical specimen…yet in his next fight he looked skinny and weak…”
Many have suggested over the years his first defeat took a lot out of the Youngstown fighter. I ask whether he felt his first loss took something out of him as boxer. It brings an immediate and emphatic reply.
“No it absolutely took nothing out of me as I knew the situation in that I wasn’t able to ‘pull the trigger’. I couldn’t even take it as a learning experience losing that way…the way I entered the fight was a big part of why that happened.”
“The biggest negative for me was the reaction by everyone afterwards when they started saying I couldn’t fight movers. That really bothered me as I’d beaten Jermain Taylor twice and he’d beaten Hopkins twice yet the ‘arm-chair boxers’ came out talking shit saying anyone who could box and move would beat me. That part got to me.”
Four months after the Hopkins disaster Pavlik would return to the middleweight division to defend his titles against Mexican puncher Marco Antonio Rubio on home turf. After being dominated for nine rounds the challenger was pulled out as Pavlik completed defence number two.
Although the Rubio win was a solid start to 2009, the year would finish being little short of a complete catastrophe for “The Ghost”…
In early March, while Kelly was playing basketball, the skin over a knuckle on his left hand (where he’d received a cortisone injection several months earlier) burst and began oozing puss. A doctor prescribed antibiotics, but the infection continued. Further tests revealed the presence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), a sometimes-fatal infection that resists most antibiotics.
Pavlik was given new medication and but had a near-fatal allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics. Kelly was hospitalized for four days. After two surgeries on his left hand, he needed physical therapy to regain full use of his finger.
After a bout with Sergio Mora had already been scrapped earlier in the year, the injury and subsequent hospitalization would mean a highly-anticipated clash with Paul Williams would be lost to fight fans forever.
“People said I was scared of Paul Williams which was wrong” counters Kelly of his then rival. “God Bless Paul I’ve got nothing at all against him now but why would I have been scared of him? To me he had a poor chin and I was a big puncher, he threw a lot of punches but then I did too and I was a full middleweight whereas he came up from 147. I really saw that as an easy fight for me.”
Ten months after Rubio, Pavlik would finally return from his ordeal to wipe out Contender star Miguel Angel Espino in five. Finally it seemed “The Ghost” was set to put the disappointing last year-and-a half behind him…however behind the scenes things were far from perfect.
“The Espino fight was a turning point for me” reveals Kelly. “After the Hopkins thing we decided I should stay at 160lbs for as long as possible. I’d given Rubio a brutal beating, it was the same as the Gary Lockett fight only it went longer. I then looked good against Espino but making 160 had started to get very rough.”
“I had struggled to make 160 for Espino so after the fight I said no more middleweight. I had problems afterwards and ended up in rehab for two months. I didn’t care about boxing anymore it got so bad…anyway I got sober, though I was already sober going in, and said ‘screw it’ and started lifting weights.”
The side-lined champion was to get unexpected news one night from his father who would reveal a title defence was in the works for his recovering son…
“My dad called to say they wanted me to fight Sergio Martinez…I’d gotten to 205lbs of muscle. I said when do they want me to fight him? He said ‘in two-and-a half months’…now my camps were usually two or three months and he’s telling me this.”
The retired former pugilist out-lines clearly the struggle which came with making the 160lb limit for the final time in his career.
“When you’re carrying solid muscle, the pounds are harder to shift than usual. My first week was all boxing, stretching and cardio. I checked my weight a month into camp and I was 175lbs. From then on the weight was increasingly harder to shift. A few days later I was 172, I stepped things up; I wasn’t eating enough, not taking in enough liquids…”
“It was the Tuesday before the fight and I was still 170lbs” continues Kelly. “I went on the treadmill, then went straight into the sauna, hopped on the scales and I was still 170. I worked out hard the next day, I saw the doctor and he recommended I should hop into a cold pool of water before going into the sauna so I tried that…but it made me really sick. I said ‘no more sauna’, it wasn’t working anymore.”
“We then asked the hotel we were staying in to have a static bike and a treadmill put into our hotel room. I did 25 minutes on each over and over. By the Thursday I was still 168lbs and my dad could see how sick I was getting. I remember Cameron (Dunkin) coming into the hotel room and looking at the treadmill wondering what was going on, I was like what did he think was going on?”
“I was 164 on the Friday night, then when I woke up I was down to 162. When the weigh-in came, Sergio was late; I think he thought he would hurt me doing that but it ended up helping me as it gave me extra time to get those last two pounds off.”
The trauma with making weight left the champion distraught on the eve of his toughest fight since Hopkins. The argentine challenger had only been beaten twice; early in his career to Antonio Margarito and a close loss to Paul Williams and he had just knocked out “The Punisher” in their rematch.
“Ten minutes before that fight I turned to my dad and told him I’m done with boxing” says Kelly who put on an astonishing 18lbs after the weigh-in (to Sergio’s 7½lbs). “I was sluggish by the middle rounds but I felt I was ahead. People thought he went on to beat me because of the cut I suffered but in truth it was that struggle to make weight and I don’t think it helped that I’d added a lot of liquid to my body after the weigh-in.”
With the bout in the balance, Pavlik fired a glancing right uppercut in the seventh to drop “Maravilla” for the bout’s only knock-down. From then on though it was all Sergio who took the unanimous decision by scores of 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112 to become the new champion.
“It just all caught up with me” says Pavlik sadly. “There was nothing I could have done at that stage. It came to the ninth and I just completely hit a wall. If I could go back and do it again I’d have probably got to 165, vacated my titles and fought him.”
The beaten man wouldn’t be seen in a ring again for over a year. Returning at super-middleweight, he’d win a majority decision over the previously unbeaten Alfonso Lopez at Las Vegas before disappearing again for another ten months.
In the first half of 2012, he would stop Aaron Jaco in two, wear down Scott Sigmon in seven before winning a decision over 16-1 Will Rosinsky. Pavlik would bow out with a final tally of 40-2 (34) after being universally recognised as the world’s best middleweight between 2007-2010.
“I was working with Roberto Garcia and it was pretty hard for me” admits the 32-year-old. “I wasn’t 20 years old anymore and felt I was just going through the process of fighting with my last couple of bouts.”
“I had money and kids and I just didn’t have the hunger anymore. I said to myself, I’ve won titles and have earned good money why am I still doing this after twelve years? I was flying from Ohio to California all the time, missing my family when I just didn’t have the urge anymore. I fought Jaco, then Sigmon, Rosinsky (a last return to HBO) was a good fight but I was still losing my motivation.”
When a world super-middleweight shot was mooted against recent Super Six winner Andre Ward, the former champion briefly got that dying hunger back but the dream match simply wasn’t to be.
“I got really excited by the Ward fight; that brought my motivation back. I thought he was an unbelievable fighter and I got really excited at the prospect of facing him but then he got injured. When I got told he’d injured his shoulder and would now be out for over a year that was the icing on the cake for me to end my career. Ward was the only one who could get me ‘up’ for a fight again.”
Some have given negative comments when Pavlik’s name is raised in boxing debates but there’s no doubt the Youngstown man not only got out at the right time but also did so after a great deal of success as a professional fighter. As our interview winds down, Kelly reflects with great pride on his outstanding career.
“I retired at 40-2, I was the undisputed middleweight champion for three years, I made a lot of money…I know some only seem to look at your last few performances but listen, I beat Taylor, Miranda…I beat many top quality fighters and got out of boxing intact with perfect health and I’m happy and doing great in retirement.”
“I want to thank all my fans who supported me through my career, I still love boxing and hope to start a new chapter now and work with the young kids and pass on all of my experience…I’m going to be around.”
After some colourful reports from the Youngstown press following his retirement, this writer would like to point out the former champion is still in good shape at 185lbs and, more importantly, in great spirits. Kelly Pavlik got out of boxing on his own terms and is doing great; no negative press or armchair critics can take that away from him.
Many thanks to Kelly and our friend James Dominguez for setting up this interview.
Kelly winning the world middleweight title-
Black Flash Promotions press conference (Video)
Black Flash Promotions held a press conference on Monday afternoon at the Middleton Arena in Manchester to officially announce their ‘Homecoming’ show at the venue on Saturday night October 25th. The show will feature a selection of local Manchester boxers and three prospects from Leeds, all unbeaten and one a current International Masters champion!
Joined on the top table with Barrett at the press conference was coach Paulie de Silva, and the boxers appearing on the night; light-middleweight Matty Ryan, who tops the bill in his hometown, Zelfa Barrett, Pat’s nephew who makes his professional debut, light-heavyweight Des Gargano a Middleton lad and local favourite, plus the three lads from Leeds, International light-welterweight champion Justin Newell, Middleweight prospect Reece Cartwright and super-featherweight ‘The Magic Man’ Zahid Hussain who come over the Pennines to feature on the Pat Barrett promoted show. Joining them on the top table is boxing advisor Rick Manners from Leeds and Peter Caines of the Manchester based BBTV and BritishBoxers.co.uk, who will be screening the show live on www.britishboxers.co.uk
Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik discusses his incredible march to the world middleweight title
By Michael J Jones
In July 2012, former middleweight champion of the world Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik would survive a cut eye to pound out a decision over solid prospect Will Rosinsky at Carson, California. It would be the then-30-year-old’s fortieth victory as a professional boxer in his twelfth year punching for pay.
However, after witnessing a potential mouth-watering clash with super-middleweight ruler Andre Ward fall through, he would leave the sport and retire just six months later. With a 40-2 (34) record with his only defeats to future hall of famers in Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez, many questioned the Youngstown fighter’s decision to walk away at that time.
Despite often-whispered rumours of a ring return, so far the former big-punching champion has kept to his word and stayed away from the ring. Speaking exclusively to Livefight in a rare interview, Kelly reveals he still sometimes gets the urge to dust off the punch mitts but is sticking to his guns as he continues to enjoy his retirement.
“Sure I still get the itch to come back to boxing” admits Kelly to Livefight over the phone from Ohio. “When I walked away I’d had enough, I’ve been out for two years now and I see guys of my age still boxing and they’re not the same. The urge I get could be anything like a day or a sparring session but I’m happy and keeping busy and I know I made the right decision when I did.”
The future middleweight star would turn pro after winning three National amateur titles in the summer of 2000. After a series of devastating knock-out victories, Pavlik was quickly gaining a reputation for his exciting style and heavy hands.
Only three of 26 victims would hear the final bell against the streaking prospect in his first five years in the paid ranks. Although he was looking set for an assault on the world stage, Kelly reveals there was some early frustration for team Pavlik in those early years.
“It was very hard for my manager (Cameron Dunkin) and promotional team (Top Rank) bringing me up and gaining in experience” comments the 32-year-old. “They wanted to know if I could go eight or ten rounds, I could do it in the gym but a fighter could breeze eight rounds in sparring but in a real fight with the adrenaline and nerves it was a whole different thing.”
“They were getting me guys who had that experience, who had never been stopped and I was knocking them out in five or six rounds. My team were in a pickle as they had to step me up without knowing for sure if I was ready.”
After dominating fighters such as Grady Brewer and Anthony Ivory it was time for the unbeaten Ohio puncher to step up against the top contenders. In October 2005, he would be matched with the feared Columbian Fulgencio Zuniga with the NABF title on the line.
The bout unfortunately started disastrously for Pavlik when he was floored in the first by a hard left hook…
“That was a brutal fight and probably the toughest one they could have gotten for me at that stage” acknowledges Pavlik. “He didn’t look like he hit hard, he looked slow but he was built like a Gorilla (stocky with a heavily-muscled upper-body) and had heavy hands and caught me with that good left hook. I wasn’t dizzy, it felt like someone had grabbed my ankles from under me, so it was more of a flash knock-down.”
The floored fighter recovered quickly and took over from that point though the Columbian stayed game throughout. By the close of the ninth though, the bloodied Zuniga could take no more as Pavlik claimed his 27th pro win and his first title.
Kelly Pavlik was an incredibly built middleweight. At 6’3” and with an enormous 78” wingspan, you’d think the tall puncher would have kept largely at range behind his jab but, as highlighted in the Zuniga bout, he would often give his height away to trade in close. Dangerous as the tactics appeared, it made for some thrilling nights for “The Ghost”.
After a nine-month lay-off, he would follow up the Zuniga win with solid victories over Bronco McKart and the 18-2 Lenard Pierre in 2006.
In January 2007, Pavlik would impress in another tough war against Mexican Jose Luis Zertuche in California, over-coming the spirited “El Elotero” in the eighth round with a brutal flurry of power-punches.
“That was another good fight” recalls the former champion. “I’d watched a lot of films of him beforehand. He’d fought Zuniga twice (drawing and losing a split verdict) so I knew he would be dangerous. He was ambidextrous, hit hard with both hands and had that Mexican style of fighting.”
“It was probably one of the most brutal knock-outs in boxing; he finished the fight sleeping on his feet…”
Following the chilling Zertuche stoppage, Pavlik was presented with a WBC medal as he had been previously told the fight was for the right to become the WBC mandatory contender. However, just two weeks after the fight he would get a surprise phone-call…
“I get this call that I’d have to face Edison Miranda” says Pavlik. “I’m like what? I’m already the mandatory why do I have to face Miranda?”
“I’d watched Miranda’s fight against Arthur Abraham and I think the only way he could have won that night was if Abraham had left the ring in a body-bag. I couldn’t believe what I was watching, Miranda absolutely deserved to win that fight (Abraham survived a hideous jaw injury to win a controversial decision).”
“We watched a lot of tapes of Miranda to break him down. What we saw was if a guy tried to move to stay away from him, Miranda would be very strong but, if you could get him to plant his feet, he’d leave his chin exposed. I had confidence in my chin and knew I could hit hard too so my game-plan was to go right at him and force him backwards.”
“I put my war gear on and went to war…yeah he took a bad beating in that fight…”
The two punchers locked horns and traded bomb after bomb until, amazingly, Miranda started to wilt. The Columbian puncher, whose only previous loss had been the IBF title fight vs Abraham, was hurt in the fifth and sixth before Pavlik put the finishing combination together in the seventh.
Four months later, Kelly would get his shot at the world’s premier middleweight in former amateur rival Jermain Taylor. At 27-0-1 (19), Taylor held two victories over Bernard Hopkins plus an amateur victory over “The Ghost”. Despite the underdog being a perfect 31-0 (28) and with several impressive knock-outs against dangerous opposition, many believed the champion would be simply too skilful for him but Pavlik had other ideas.
“I actually quite liked being the underdog” recalls Pavlik about the WBC and WBO title showdown. “People wrote me off because he’d beaten me as an amateur and I was just meant to be a big puncher and nothing else. Listen, when we boxed in the amateurs, he was 21 years old and I was one of the youngest on the US team class at 17. Everybody knows at that age those few years can make a world of difference physically. Also, that was the amateur system of point scoring and nothing to do with power.”
“Then I was a pro and knocking everybody out and suddenly it’s all about our amateur fight; even Manny Steward was saying it. I was meant to be the puncher and him the boxer but in that first fight I was out-boxing him and winning the boxing match and I also out-boxed him in our second fight which had no knock-out.”
The first bout between the two rivals at Atlantic City saw Pavlik floored in the second by a speedy combination but he gamely waded back into battle and appeared to take over from the third as Taylor was continuously backed up by hard jabs, heavy right-hands and crunching left hooks to head and body.
In the seventh Pavlik, despite the all three judges having him behind on the cards, seemed in firm control when a final right took all the fight out of Taylor. A follow up flurry dumped him heavily in the corner where he was rescued by the ref to make Pavlik the new middleweight champion of the world.
“I did feel the impact of my victory for sure” Kelly responds when I point out the mass of positive energy the jaw-dropping victory breathed into the sport as a new star emerged on the world stage. “The middleweight division at that time consisted of Felix Sturm, Abraham, Miranda…but the way I knocked out Taylor brought a lot of attention to the division. Plus it was ranked as one of the top ten fights of the decade by ESPN which also contributed to it.”
After a lot of speculation regarding the new champion’s next bout, he would next box Taylor again in a 168lb none-title bout. Although not quite the slugfest of the first meeting, Pavlik pounded out a unanimous decision to stay undefeated.
It can be frustrating for the fans when the big fights aren’t made and that frustration can be often shared ten-fold by the fighters in question. Kelly details the trouble his team had with pinning a major fight down at that stage.
“I wanted to fight Arthur Abraham but he refused unless I came to Germany yet I was the undisputed champion so why should I have to go to him? Sturm was the same he wouldn’t come over to the US. Around that time Paul Williams also turned down a fight yet later when I pulled out because my hands were nearly falling off and I nearly died the public turned on me!”
Three months after the Taylor rematch the reigning champion would be matched with 30-1 Welshman Gary Lockett in defence of his middleweight belts. The bout drew much negative press with scores of fight fans left unimpressed with the selection of the little-known challenger.
Unknown to most was the fact Lockett was actually a decent fighter who had beaten two world title challengers in Kevin Kelly and Ryan Rhodes and had avenged his only defeat. Trained by Joe Calzaghe’s father Enzo, Lockett was also a decent puncher but he would meet a fired up Pavlik at Atlantic City.
Being a Welshman myself, I feel the need to interject that Lockett was a much better fighter than Pavlik let him be on that fateful night. The former champion is surprisingly generous in his response and agrees with me.
“Gary Lockett was a sharp fighter and I took that fight very seriously. He was a talented fighter but I showed my boxing ability and, as he was a lesser-known guy to the ones I’d been fighting, the pressure was on to look spectacular.”
Within the opening exchanges, the far-taller Pavlik found no problem piercing the Lockett guard with big straight punches. After landing some huge shots, inflicting a few trips to the canvas and causing ugly facial damage, Pavlik would retain in three.
“Enzo Calzaghe was pissing me off before that fight” adds Kelly. “He kept saying that Joe Calzaghe would mess me up and knock the hell out of me. I said ‘hey you’ve got to get your guy here through this fight first!’ I wanted to fight Joe Calzaghe so I felt I had to take care of Lockett and make a statement.”
Following his latest defence a mooted bout against Paul Williams would fail to materialise after several failed talks between the respective promoters. With the other champions failing to agree terms and several stars lined up to feature in the super-middleweight ‘Super Six’ tournament, the middleweight champion was fast running out of options.
“We agreed to the Bernard Hopkins fight out of frustration because of the Paul Williams situation” says Pavlik simply. “It was a statement to say ‘look I’m not facing a 147lb fighter I’m going to jump up and fight a legend’…there was no one else around to fight. Also remember this was the Hopkins of six years ago not the one of today.”
Part 2 of our exclusive Pavlik interview coming soon...
Many thanks to Kelly and our friend James Dominguez for setting up the interview.
Lee Beard breaks down Catterall - Stalker
Of all the fights scheduled this weekend, a fight between two relative professional novices stands out. Chorley’s Central Area champion Jack Catterall, 9-0 (5 KO’s), faces Liverpudlian Tom Stalker, 9-0 (2 KO’s), in a battle of unbeaten light welterweights. If the fight were decided on the size of each fighter’s profile, 2012 Olympic captain Stalker would win handily. In reality the winner will be determined by weeks of preparation and ten rounds – or less – of boxing. It’s safe to say Catterall’s trainer, Lee Beard, is more than happy to pitch his fighter in to the deep end.
“When we signed with Frank Warren, he asked what we wanted for Jack,” Beard told Livefight. “We said we wanted moving forward towards titles. He got us Krzysztof Szot and then Nathan Brough for the Central Area title [In July, Catterall produced one of the knockouts of the year to stop the previously unbeaten Brough in the second round]. Jack’s got to perform every time and be disciplined and take every fight proper seriously. Every fight’s like a world title fight for him because on paper these guys are supposed to beat Jack. To me though, this is the pro’s and it’s a different sport.
“A lot of people thought Nathan would beat Jack. We didn’t. Me and Jack like Nathan and [his coach] Paul Stevenson but its just business. Jack needs those fights to boost his profile. Obviously he doesn’t have an Olympic medal or any of that stuff. He wants to make waves in the sport and he’s had his sort of easier fights.
“He gets the bit between his teeth. He got the Nathan fight and was buzzing because he knew if he won it’d boost his profile and that’s what he wanted. With Tom, if Jack does what I think he will then his profile will boost. I do think he’ll stop Tom. When I got the call [confirming the fight] and told Jack he was absolutely buzzing. You know when somebody has absolutely no doubt in their mind that they’re going to win a fight? He tells me every day “there’s no way in the world he’s making it through the fight. I’m stopping him.”
Stalker, 29, has been forced to dig a little deeper a little earlier than he might have expected to since deciding to hang up his vest and opponents like Callum Cooper and Ben Wager have provided plenty of resistance. Nonetheless, his amateur achievements speak for themselves. Catterall, 21, and ‘The Captain’ sparred plenty of rounds during Beard’s regular trips to the Everton Red Triangle gym where Stalker originally turned over and Beard and Catterall saw enough during those sessions to feel confident about the outcome of Saturday’s fight. Conversely, Stalker wouldn’t have chosen to face Catterall rather than original opponent Chris Jenkins if he felt he was signing up for an impossible task. Both fighters feeling so confident of victory is one of the reasons the fight is so attractive.
“They’re both southpaws but Jack’s defence is very good. They’ve sparred before and Tom’s a busy fighter who throws a lot of punches with speed but Jack can block a lot of shots. He will get through obviously but trust me, Jack can block a lot. He can also counter punch him and Tom knows that. The difference here is that they’re going to have little 8oz gloves on and Jack can hit. He’s got power in both hands and he’s physically very strong on the inside. If somebody tries to get hold of him and rough him around a bit he’s very hard to move. He’s like a dead weight and in the pro’s those kind of attributes are useful to have.”
Catterall has displayed slick boxing skills and knockout power in his brief career but it has to be said that despite an unconvincing start as a professional – on his amateur achievements alone – Stalker represents his biggest challenge to date. His fight with the big punching Brough was seen as a ‘pick-em’ fight by many observers but his ability to stay calm and follow instructions earned him a spectacular victory. If Catterall can couple the physical gifts he shows in the gym with another sound gameplan devised by Beard, maybe Saturday night will turn into another showcase.
“He’s a nice lad Jack. He’s a quiet lad but when he gets in [the ring] he’s cold. If you look at him he’s just zoning in on the target. His brain is ticking along all the time and he’s looking for opportunities to hit the target. If you look at when he fought Nathan, he followed the gameplan for that fight to the tee. That’s good because if you have a 21 year-old lad who’s boxing to gameplans then you’re halfway there. When you’ve got a young lad who’s able to concentrate and focus like that it shows a lot of maturity I think.
“If Jack’s defence is on song, Tom’s gonna have a lot of problems hitting him. Obviously we need a bit of luck on the night but I’m 100% confident Jack wins this fight. I think it’s a great fight for him. Whether or not he stops him is irrelevant but even if it does go ten rounds I think Jack bosses the fight. The first couple of rounds might be nip and tuck but Jack will walks away with it. I think he’ll boss it.”
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Luke Campbell and Tommy Coyle on summer collision course
Luke Campbell MBE and Tommy Coyle say that the pressure is on them to claim big wins at the Ice Arena in Hull on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports – so they can set up a huge clash in the city next summer.
The Lightweight duo face big step-up fights on Saturday night, with Coyle meeting former World champion Michael Katsidis and Campbell facing Argentine Daniel Brizuela, who shared a rollercoaster war with Coyle in February.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has made no secret that a clash between the two at Hull City’s KC Stadium next summer would be a huge event for the city and for British boxing, and both men believe that if they keep winning, a fight is inevitable, and Campbell would love to box outside in his hometown for the second time having made his professional debut last July at Hull KR’s Craven Park.
“We both have tough fights on Saturday but if we keep winning then we can be looking at a massive outdoor show at the KC Stadium, which will be great for boxing fans and for the people of Hull,” said Campbell. “Tommy and I have been friends for a long time, we've known each other for over a decade, we trained together as kids, but this is the sport we're in, it’s the entertainment business and we can put our friendship to one side for a night to put on a great show for the fans. I am going to stay unbeaten, that's for sure, so if Tommy can do the same we'll be ready for a big one.”
Coyle appeared on Campbell’s debut card and suffered a heart-breaking KO loss to Derry Mathews having dominated the fight. The 25 year old credits Campbell’s Olympic gold medal heroics with bringing boxing to their hometown, but says he’d have no qualms in facing the unbeaten star and believes he’d beat him.
“Luke winning the gold started it all off, I have so much respect for Luke and if it hadn't had been for that then we wouldn't be having these big shows in Hull,” said Coyle. “The fans here are fantastic, some of the best in the land. They will be out in force this weekend and if we keep winning then we'll be getting more and more shows here. We're pals and we've travelled the world together as amateurs but I am not daft, Eddie promotes us both and it makes sense to put us in the ring together.
“First and foremost, it's Katsidis. The fight with Luke excites me very, very much. Luke is a good friend of mine, I have a lot of respect for him and his success in the Olympics is the main reason why I got my shot on a big Matchroom bill against Derry last summer.
“I'd be confident of beating him, he's not been in there with someone like me but it would be a very good fight, and we both have hard fights to take care of this weekend first.”
Campbell and Coyle face their acid tests on a great night of boxing in Hull, with Gavin McDonnell looking to step into the international mix against former World title challenger Vusi Malinga.
Samir Mouniemne continues on the path back to title contention and the show also sees a showcase of local talent with Nathon Smith, Tom Knight, Charlie Payton and Connor Seymour plus Liverpool’s Robbie Davies Jnr.
Tickets are on sale now priced £40, £60 and £120 for VIPs and are available from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com
Leeds boys boost the Black Flash Promotions debut show
Black Flash Promotions, headed by former British and European champion Pat Barrett has had to soak up a few promotional body blows since the announcement of their first show at the Middleton Arena in Manchester on October 25th. The original bill has changed somewhat since it was first announced with former Commonwealth champion Matty Hall and the popular Ben Mulligan pulling off the bill through injury. Last week Young King Fury was withdrawn after the sudden and very sad death of his uncle, Hughie Fury. [Livefight and British Boxers would like to pass on our condolences to the Fury family].
“First on behalf of myself, the boxers and everyone involved in Black Flash Promotions, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Fury family on hearing the news that Hughie has passed away. He was a good man, I know the family well and it is a big loss, may he rest in peace. Tyson Fury contacted us and explained that his brother wouldn’t be fighting which is understandable, so again we had to re-schedule around that, that’s how it goes, life comes first.” Barrett told www.britishboxers.co.uk
“I never thought for one moment that this was going to be easy.” said Barrett when referring to the withdrawal of the fighters and having to refund ticket money and re-schedule fights for the ‘Homecoming show’
“When they say boxing is the hardest game in the world, they don’t just mean inside the ring.” added the former world title challenger, who has had his fare share of ups and downs in his life and boxing career, but now finds himself back in the domain he thrives best. “Anything in life worth doing or fighting for is never easy and usually there is blood, sweat, tears and stress along the way, that’s life!
“My focus is now getting the lads who are fighting on the show ready. It is their night, we cant dwell on the lads who are not boxing now and worry, the show goes on it is a special night for Matthew Ryan, this kid has trained his heart out and he is one of the most honest and dedicated kids, it is a pleasure to train and guide him. Fighting in his home town of Middleton is a special moment for him.” stressed Barrett.
Also on the bill is Barrett’s nephew ‘The Brown’ Flash’ Zelfa Barrett, a skilful, fast lightweight who will be making his professional debut. “For Zelfa it is the most important night of his boxing career.” continued Barrett. “It is his professional debut and the date October 25th is tattooed in his mind and his life is all focused on that night, so these are the things that me and my team are thinking and we have evolved the show into something different in terms of other names added to the bill but the ethos is still the same, we are giving young boxers the chance to perform, fight regularly on local shows and learn their trade the right way.
“We have plans to stage many more shows in 2015, so the lads who couldn’t make this one can hopefully get on the next one.” added Barrett.
Black Flash Promotions has recently forged an allegiance with Leeds boxing figure Rick Manners and will now feature some of the fighters that Manners advises on the Middleton show. “We go back along way, I have known the Manners family for years, I used to spar with his brother when I was British champion, they are good people, boxing people and they are looking to do what we do, put something back into the game, look after their boxers and give them opportunities to perform and make a regular living and it is a pleasure to be able to have Rico’s lads appear on our show.”
The three boxers added to Barrett’s show are all unbeaten prospects from Leeds and trained in Manchester by respected coaches Joe Pennington and Wahid Hussain. They are International light-welterweight Masters champion Justin Newell (7-0) who will feature in a 6-round contest. The talented Newell hasn’t boxed since March when he won his belt and is happy to get his career moving again after turning pro in 2010, this is a perfect opportunity for him to do that. – In contrast the busy Middleweight Reece Cartwright (4-0) will be taking part in his 5th fight of the year, the 20-year old fought earlier this month on the big Josh Warrington bill at the First Direct Arena in Leeds and has impressed many with his skills and also in his application in the gym and in his other fights to date, big things are predicted this is a fighter to keep an eye on.
The third Leeds man added to the show is 23 year-old super-featherweight Zahid “The Magic Man” Hussain (1-0) who joins local Middleton light-heavyweight Curtis Gargano who is looking to impress in-front of his home support.
The Leeds lads are looking forward to the journey across the Pennines and issued the following statement.
“Our aim right now is to build up our professional record, fighting good quality fighters and making our way up the ranks the traditional way in pursuit of a world title i.e. winning central areas and masters titles moving on to the English, British, Commonwealth, European and eventually the world championship.
“We love the way that former boxing champion Pat Barrett is building up fighters and giving them opportunities.
“We all know that we are at the very beginning of our different journeys and we realise to become good professional fighters we will have to prove ourselves, first by working hard in the gym, selling our tickets and winning our fights so that we can all fully join this team. We would also like to thank Pat Barrett and Black Flash Promotions for working with our promotional team, thus allowing us to showcase our boxing skills on future Black Flash Promotions boxing events in Manchester and throughout the country.
“Our manager/promoter Rebecca Margel and Bauer Events are the team that are driving us and looking after our business/boxing interests, not to mention our coaches Joe Pennington and Wahid Hussain and our agent/advisor Rick Manners. We realise that if we are loyal and work hard as a team we know in our hearts we can all be a champions.”
Tickets are still available from the boxers or on our website here.
The show will be shown live on British Boxers BBTV – Read more