Jamel Herring ready to sit his pressure test
Every fighter faces the acid test. That one night when their credentials are given a thorough examination.
The technical skills are usually in place but, until they get put under severe pressure by a fighter equally as ambitious as they are, there is always the question of whether the technique will hold up when the mind is foggy and the body is tired. Performing under pressure is the least of Jamel Herring’s worries. Herring, 15-0 (8 KO’s), served two tours in Iraq during his time in the Unted States Marine Corps.
“Man, just being in that general environment, being a Marine alone, I’ve been under pressure. I’ve been in worst case scenarios,” the 30 year old lightweight told Livefight. “For me, boxing has always been an outlet for stress. As a Marine, you’re going all around the world but, whenever I got back to my life, I just kept going back to the gym as my outlet. When I look back at my life and remember being a Marine and think about where I’ve been and what I’ve done, I feel like boxing is the fun part. I always tell myself, even in hated moments, ‘Jamel, you’ve been through worse.’
“It’s a way of life and I’m enjoying life at the moment.”
This Saturday, Herring gets his acid test. He will take on the aggressive two-time world title challenger, Denis Shafikov, in Reading, Pennsylvania. Herring’s career has gained momentum over the past seven months but Herring, usually a classy southpaw, realises that a victory over the tough Russian would move his career onto a different level.
“Shafikov is ranked number eight with the IBF so this is a big opportunity for me.
“I’ve been doing a lot of studying and I’m feeling really good about this fight. Shafikov comes to fight for the entire fight. He’s in your face for the entire time. He just doesn’t stop. I’m going to have to pick up my game and throw punches with him. As a matter of a fact, I planning on flipping things and out punching him. It’s gonna be an active fight but I’m up for the challenge. This is why I’m in the game. I love competition. I’m very confident and very excited. I’m looking forward to seeing how my skills compare to the very best out there.
“It’s a fan friendly fight. I’m blessed to be in the main event again. I must be doing something right to keep getting the opportunity to headline.”
For a man who spent years operating within the strict efficiency of the Marine Corps., the frustratingly slow and, let’s face it, sometimes baffling world of professional boxing must have come as a culture shock. Luckily, patience is a virtue that Herring has in abundance. The Marine Corps. motto is Semper Fidelis , Latin for “always faithful”. Herring has always had faith that his ability would get him to where he needed to be.
“It can be a heartache,” Herring sighed. “Especially the business side of boxing. Boxing is a business first. You have to just cool off, take your time, and be patient but at the same time you have to be ready for whats to come.
“It’s the funniest thing. When I turned professional after the London 2012 Olympic Games, I wasn’t really expected to do much. Over time it seems like I’ve beaten a lot of expectations from critics. More importantly, I’m proving to myself that I can do it. Over the past couple of years I seem to have gotten better and better. I’ve barely even lost a round in the professional game. I’m just trying to get to a level where people really start taking my seriously. I don’t really have a big following at the moment but hopefully this kind of fight is basically gonna tell me how well I’ll do in the future.”
A surprising number of fighters pay little attention to to events outside of their own weight class. Herring isn’t one of those fighters. He will never lose that marine mindset which requires him to be as prepared as possible for any new conflict which may arise, but Herring’s interest in the sport is mainly down to simply being a fan.
Fighters are moving through the weight classes with more and more frequency as they look for the most attractive - and highest paying - fights. Occasionally, a group of talented fighters convene in a single weight class. As well as Britain’s WBO champion, Terry Flanagan and WBA king, Anthony Crolla, the 135lb division is currently home to Jorge Linares, WBC champion Dejan Zlaticanin, Felix Verdejo and Herring’s stablemate, Robert Easter Jnr. There are even rumours of Vasyl Lomachenko entering the mix to look for a third world title in as many weight divisions before too long. Herring would be excited by the potential match-ups if he were watching the action from the sofa. Instead, he is desperate to get involved.
“I was a fan of boxing even before I was an athlete. I watch everything. I’m watching the big movement in the UK and I’m excited about what’s going on over there. As a matter of a fact, before Anthony Crolla fought the rematch [with Darleys Perez] I basically told him in a gentlemanly way that I would love to make a match in the UK someday. I had a great time in the UK when I came for the Olympics, I’m starting to get a following and I have friends there. Why not come over and fight one of the world champions?
“I have a lot of respect for Anthony and what he’s been through, especially fighting off burglars. He’s proven a lot of people wrong in his career. I was rooting for him in his last fight [against Ismael Barroso] and he did it: he knocked out the knockout artist. Terry Flanagan is another guy who I’d love to share the ring with. I know they went to the same school but Anthony was a couple of years older. I also know they’d like a unification fight but they have two different promoters.
“You can see I keep up with everything!” Herring laughed as I expressed my surprise at him displaying a local knowledge almost as adept as mine. “I know Al Haymon speaks with Eddie Hearn so I’m hoping that one day I can compete with Anthony. If you see the guys tell them that I appreciate what they’re doing out there and that I’m a fan. Hopefully we get the chance to square off one day.
“A couple of years ago it [the lightweight class] was a bit dry. All eyes were on the welterweight division and the junior middleweight division but now you’ve got a lot of guys turning into contenders and world champions. You’ve got somebody like Robert Easter who put on a great performance last time against Argenis Mendez. As a matter of a fact I helped him prepare for his last fight because I’m tall and rangy. We’re always there for each other. I believe he’s looking for a fight with Rances Barthelemy who just beat Mickey Bey. [Easter Jnr will now face Richard Commey for the vacant IBF title that Barthelemy vacated].
“There are a lot of big fights going on in the lightweight division alone. If you’re a boxing fan, it’s shaping up to be good for years to come. There are so many good fights to be made.”
Despite being born in New York, Herring works out of Cincinnati under Mike Stafford. That ‘Semper Fi’ motto came to the fore when he began to map out a future as a professional boxer. Herring appreciated the help Stafford gave him during his amateur career and has placed his total faith in the 59 year old.
“In 2011 after I won the open trials, Mike Stafford was one of the trainers helping USA team. Since then me and Mike have had such good chemistry that I felt that going onto the next level, I’d be comfortable with him in my corner. I asked Mike and about it while was transitioning out of the Marine Corps, and a day after I left the Marines I was on a flight to Cincinnati. Just like that. I take my career seriously and when he said he felt he could help me, well, I just got on the plane.
“If you look back at the American team from 2012 they all had their professional debuts on the same day. I was still going through the transition from amateur to pro. Mike wanted more time to work with me and I had to just be patient and just breathe and trust what he was saying. I eventually turned pro around a month later. Mike has helped me with pacing myself. He taught me about setting up my shots more instead of just setting up for scoring. He showed me how to do damage using my body attack and how to be smarter when finding and creating openings. He’s really helped me out.”
Anthony Joshua: Improvements Required
After a highly entertaining and absorbing fight between George Groves (24-3) and Martin Murray (33-4) which saw the two world title challengers duke it out for twelve rounds in back and forth style, the headline event was always going to have to shine bright to surpass the previous bout.
The packed crowd in attendance at the 02 arena had come for their fix of blood, courtesy of the Olympic gold medallist and they got it. Kind of.
The tall and relatively unknown Dominic Breazeale was the IBF's 15th ranked heavyweight. On paper he was unbeaten, tall, American - and that handy 15th spot meant he could be classed as a defence of the IBF belt.
Whilst all this sounded impressive, in reality it was a clever piece of matchmaking by Joshua's handlers. Anyone who knew a little about boxing would see that Breazeale lacked the speed to do battle with AJ and that victory for the Londoner was assured. To the less educated sports fan, they saw an unbeaten 6'7" American coming to snatch AJ's title.
The fight panned out as a little bit sloppy and overall a disappointment as a spectacle. Perhaps we have become accustomed to the ease with which Joshua has dispatched the questionable opposition so far?
Joshua entered the ring to a very cheesey rap that he recorded himself. It is that kind of thing that quickly antagonised the British boxing public when James Degale used to be MC'ed into the ring after he turned professional with his own gold medal. But we will give Joshua a pass tonight given he's only 26 years old.
To Joshua's credit though, he seemed very relaxed given the rabid response from the crowd as he entered at the side of the arena. He has the masses eating out of his hand despite now being locked behind the paywall of Sky Box Office.
Round One began with Joshua looking big and fast - but the sharp accuracy just didn't seem to be there, despite Breazeale being right in front of him. Eventually Joshua found a few shots and the American took them very well.
Quickly the commentating crew celebrated "how well he took those punches" and quickly settled on talking about "how tough Breazeale is" for the next 15 minutes or so of ring action. Let's face it, there was little else to praise the visitor for. Whilst this sounds overly negative, it is what it is.
Joshua continued throwing big shots with all the accuracy of a Storm Trooper for the next couple of rounds until Breazeale eventually went over twice in the seventh round and referee Marcus McDonnell decided to wave off the gutsy, tough but ultimately out-gunned visitor.
So what did we learn about Joshua from the fight? well he knocked the guy out, so most media scribes would celebrate that fact and leave it there.
But I personally think he has a long way to go before he's put in the ring with Klitchko, Fury and the rest. Infact even the likes of David Haye could give him a fright. Joshua is big, strong and with fast hands - but he is pretty flat footed and lacks angles at the minute.
Whilst others might celebrate his ability to go to the 7th round without tiring, anyone who has actually boxed would know that freshness is linked to pace. Only Whyte has given Joshua a bit of pace so far in a fight and he looked like he would blow a gasket at one stage before re-grouping and letting those impressive shots close the show.
In closing, the bout didn't really tell us much more about Anthony Joshua and if it did tell us anything, is that he's got a lot of weak areas that he needs to work on. A big punch and a big smile will always please the fans, but he needs a lot more polish to battle the other big names at the weight just yet.
Kieran Farrell's Promotional debut a success
Kieran Farrell got his promotional career off to a promising start with a well attended event at Middleton Arena last night. Farrell, whose own professional career was cruel cut short due to the injuries he suffered during an English lightweight title fight with current WBA champion Anthony Crolla in 2012, has already forged a career as a trainer and a manager. Last night’s show was a solid start to life as a promoter.
Nathan Wheatley, 4-0, topped the bill and comprehensively outpointed Liam Griffiths at middleweight. Wheatley is wiry and rangy and used his unorthodox style to bully Griffiths around the ring from the opening bell. Wheatley looked set for an early finish after hurting Griffiths in the opening round and bundling him over a couple of times but, despite some heavy looking uppercuts, he was forced to settle for a comfortable 40-36 decision. The 27 year old from Warrington looks exceptionally strong and has clearly benefitted from some top level sparring with the likes of Paul and Callum Smith.
Tommy Carter’s professional career got off to a tough start as he dropped a four round decision to Manchester’s Matty Mainwaring at middleweight. Mainwaring, 2-0, picked up a nasty cut during his debut last December but was able to concentrate purely on the matter at hand this time. He produced some dangerous looking uppercuts and looked impressive when he utilised his reach and size.
Jake Bulger, 5-0, got the evenings action underway with a four round victory over Qasim Hussain. The 23 year old Failsworth super featherweight started quickly and worked Hussain’s body well and seemed to hurt him with some hard shots to the midsection as the fight drew to a close. Bulger paid close attention to his trainer, Steve Maylett, throughout and cut a composed figure.
William Warburton recorded his second successive victory with a clear cut four round decision over Barrow-In-Furness debutant, Callum Pearson. Warburton simply knew too much for the 23 year old who accepted ‘Warby’ as a late notice replacement for his original opponent. Over his past seven fights, Warburton, 20-96-8, has recorded three wins and a draw. He is now ranked within the top 15 in the British welterweight rankings and could eventually be set for some kind of title fight.
The evening capped a successful couple of weeks for Farrell. He was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours list and successfully staged his first professional promotion. The accolades are just reward for his constant perseverance after recovering from the premature end of his own career and, hopefully, launching the dreams of others.
Murray and Groves hit the scales [VIDEO]
Martin Murray and George Groves both weighed in ahead of their big domestic clash tomorrow night at the 02 arena on the undercard for Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale:-
Murray: Groves quit sparring against Golovkin
Martin Murray claims that George Groves quit sparring Golovkin, but the Londoner hit back claiming he did very well against GGG. The pair clash this Saturday night on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale.
Check it out:
Derry Mathews calls for Verdejo fight
Derry Mathews has never been a man to turn down a challenge. In fact, the two time British lightweight champion has actively sought out the toughest tests available during his exciting career. ‘Dirty Derry’ isn’t willing to fade slowly into the background and the 32 year old Liverpudlian has set his sights on one more assault on the world scene.
“I’d love a fight with Felix Verdejo,” Mathews told Livefight. “A few have mentioned it to me in the past. When I went to Las Vegas I got asked if I’d ever go back there to fight him.
“I haven’t seen too much of him. I’ve heard a lot of talk from people saying he’s this big puncher and he’s selling out the small room at Madison Square Garden at the moment and Top Rank have got him so he must have something about him. I’d be happy to travel and go over there to take him on.”
Mathews, 38-10-2 (20 KO’s), dropped a decision to WBO lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan, in March but also holds a knockout victory over Anthony Crolla and shared a draw with the WBA king in a closely contested rematch. If Verdejo’s team want to test their man’s mettle against a fighter who has mixed respectably with the division’s elite, they need look no further than Mathews.
Verdejo, 22-0 (17 KO’s), occupies a lofty position in the WBO rankings but the people behind the extremely gifted 22 year old Puerto Rican aren’t prepared to rush him into a premature title shot. Verdejo’s star dimmed slightly following a couple of one sided but drama free decision victories, but the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist once again set tongues wagging with an impressive sharp shooting stoppage of Juan Jose Martinez earlier this month.
“I don’t want to go back to doing six and eight rounders [and wait for another chance]. I’d rather fight him or another big name. I want somebody who’s dangerous and I want to be involved in great fights and he’s a great fighter. I’d dive at the opportunity and I think my management team [MGM] and my trainer [Danny Vaughan] would accept it if it was offered to us too.
“I think he’s said he isn’t going to take the fight with Terry Flanagan just yet. Has he ever been in with anybody experienced? I could really test him. If they want the fight they only have to pick up the phone and ring Frank Warren or MGM and we’ll accept it any day of the week. If he’s looking for somebody for September and he wants a good name – somebody who’s been the distance with Flanagan and beaten Crolla – then I’m here and waiting. It’s a real test for him.”
It was recently suggested to me that nobody on the British scene understands the game as well as Mathews. During his 50 fight, 13 year long career, he has experienced everything the sport can possibly offer. Well, almost everything.
“I’ve boxed in the USA as an amateur but never as a professional and to go there now would be another box ticked. This would be the icing on the cake. I’ve had a great career but maybe this could lead to a few more big fights. I’ve done everything. I’ve won massive titles, travelled as an opponent and entered Prizefighter twice. I’ve been beaten and come back to beat them. It’s been a rollercoaster and this would be another great moment. Let’s see what happens!”
V12 ready for assault at 126lbs “Get me a manager and I’ll destroy Selby, Russell Jr and Donaire”
By Michael J Jones
THE WORLD featherweight division is a healthy one in boxing. Lee Selby is the current IBF champion and is still improving, US slickster Gary Russell Jr is the WBC ruler while Leo Santa Cruz will next defend his WBA title against Irish star Carl Frampton next month. While the 126lb top twenty features plenty of talent the forgotten man of the division is eager to re-enter the equations.
Simpiwe “V12” Vetyeka is now 35-years-old and some two-and-a half years removed from his stunning upset of long-reigning WBA King Chris John and is keen to face another titlist as soon as possible to become a champion again.
Speaking exclusively to Livefight, the former WBA Super holder tells this writer that politics have forced him out of the ring for much of the last two years since a controversial defeat to Nonito Donaire.
Currently 29-3 (17), “V12” has only ever lost to Hozumi Hasegawa for the WBC 118lb title, danger-man Klaas Mboyane by a split-decision and Donaire. The latter defeat was Vetyeka’s first after dethroning Chris John and was stopped in the fifth after Donaire was cut from a head-clash. The score-cards all read for the “Filipino Flash” and Vetyeka has boxed just three times since.
After two wins for the WBA International belt, “V12” last fought in April of this year when he decisioned tough young Japanese fighter Tsuyoshi Tameda. The ten-rounder was won by cards of 100-91, 99-92 and 98-92 and now the winner looks to build on his latest victory with another world title shot.
“Tameda was a very tough young star and he gave his all” Simpiwe tells Livefight. “Unfortunately I was ready for anything he came up with because I didn't know much about him until fight night and also because of my superior experience I have so I managed to control the fight till the last gong.”
“I would now like to fight (IBF champion) Lee Selby in September anywhere (his team) wishes and after that I want a unification bout with Gary Russell Jr in early December. I saw Selby’s last fight (against Eric Hunter) and I watched him also against Gradovich and I will show a lot of people that I'm the uncrowded world champ and Selby still has a lot to learn.”
The Duncan Village warrior turned pro at 21-years old back in 2002 and was an undefeated SA champion by 2007 when gaining his first world title tilt against the in-form Hasegawa in Tokyo. The challenger overcame a slow-start to push the defending WBC champion close but still dropped a unanimous decision by scores of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113.
“I was inexperienced going into that fight” concedes Simpiwe some nine years later. “I lost cleanly the first four rounds and the last two but I'm not complaining (about the decision). I could have stopped him that night because after he saw me he was never comfortable but I lost because of my inexperience and that it was my first fight abroad (outside of SA).”
Following his first defeat, Vetyeka defended his SA title a further four times before out-scoring the durable Eric Barcelona over twelve rounds to claim the IBO title. A lengthy spell on the sidelines would halt the new champion’s progress but he would return 19 months later as a super-bantamweight to win the WBC International belt in Mexico.
“I won my SA title in my 11th fight and defended it nine times in all, then (I won the) IBO world title so my then manager Butityi Konki fought with a lot of promoters in SA including the one who gave me a shot for the IBO then, that's when my long lay-off began.”
After his WBC International victory, the SA contender then endured another long lay-off (eleven months) before suffering a shock defeat to fellow South African Klaas Mboyane.
Although Mboyane entered the bout with an average 14-9-2 record, further inspection would show he was a tricky southpaw who had mixed in good class and had never been stopped. After eight frustrating rounds the judges awarded the underdog a split decision verdict.
“I think the decision was fair because I was not myself that night even in my preparations I was not feeling that good when I was training for the fight I was bad.”
Mboyane has since caused another upset when ruining the comeback of Yorkshire’s former British and Commonwealth champion Ross Burkinshaw last year to show he clearly is no mug.
Less than a year later, Vetyeka was matched with home favorite Daud Yordan in Indonesia in a contest for the IBO featherweight belt. Yordan entered the bout with a good 30-2 record having gone the full route in losing title bouts with Celestino Caballero and Chris John so started a firm favourite to overcome “V12”.
However, the visitor showed his class by out-boxing the house fighter for much of the contest before ending matters in the last to announce his talent on the world stage.
“Tactically, I boxed the right fight because he is a one-dimensional fighter who likes to fight by bringing the fight to his opponent all the time and my plan worked accordingly.”
The superb away win earned Vetyeka a unification bout against long-time WBA champion Chris John. The Indonesian had a world championship winning run which dated back some nine years and had claimed high-profile scalps such as Juan Manuel Marquez and Rocky Juarez.
At 48-0-3, there’s little doubt the 34 year old defending champion was the prefight favourite entering the contest but Simpiwe remained confident ahead of the contest in Western Australia.
“I was very confident before the John fight because he was a champion for so long and something inside me told me that he was ready to go” remembers “V12” of his biggest career win. “I knew I had to set the pace very high from the start because I heard that he was struggling to make weight and in the fight I was hurting him with everything so I knew he wouldn't (be able to navigate the distance).”
The defending champion looked all of his 34 years as the bout progressed and was beginning to take serious punishment by the sixth. Two heavy knock-downs at the end of the round convinced “The Dragon” to retire on his stool as the Vetyeka camp celebrated wildly.
Now the owner of both the IBO and WBA Super titles, the new star of the featherweight division looked ahead to another big fight and got one when matched with Nonito Donaire in China six months later.
The fight turned out to be a disappointment. After a scrappy contest which concluded in a technical decision for the cut Donaire by three identical scores of 49-46.
Vetyeka was down in the third from a left hook but otherwise held is own. Donaire promised him a rematch after the premature ending but an offer was never made to the Vetyeka team for such a bout.
“I was so disappointed fighting Donaire because I never (previously) thought he was a coward” sighs Vetyeka when Livefight asks what went wrong in the fight. “He was complaining, refereeing himself and after that caught me with his best shots and I took them well and he decided to quit because I heard him telling the referee to stop the fight I wish I can fight him again.”
“I would definitely still take that fight (against Donaire)” says Simpiwe who is trained by Lennox Mpulampula and his assistant Miniyakhe Sityata. “If it came off I’d make sure he didn't catch me with power punchers in the early rounds and then I know he’d not finish twelve rounds with me.”
“I know I can beat any of the current champions but I don't think my SA promoter can be able to take me to that level so I need a real promoter who can get me super fights. I also don’t have a manager right now (despite being ranked highly by both the WBA and the WBC).”
“Leo Santa Cruz faces Carl Frampton soon. I’ve not seen much of Frampton but Santa Cruz’ work-rate is amazing. I’d love to fight and beat Leo.”
“I still feel strong (at 35) and I would like to fight till I reach 40 fights (currently on 32) and I don't think of retiring anytime soon.”
“To my fans I'm still going to be a world champion and that is not far once I get a chance then that's it.”
Welsh hope Doran “Eubank Jr arrogance is just an act he knows I’m dangerous”
By Michael J Jones
CONNAHS QUAY middleweight Tom “Dazzlin” Doran is a quiet unassuming guy outside the ring but that’s not to say he doesn’t lack confidence inside one. On June 25th at the O2 Arena the Welsh puncher faces Chris Eubank Jr for the British title on the Anthony Joshua-Dominic Breazeale undercard in what could prove to be the fight of the night.
Labelled as the pre-fight underdog by bookies, Doran is looking to continue his unbeaten run against arguably his most dangerous opponent to date in the brash Eubank Jr. Now 17-0 (7) the 28 year old Doran came from seemingly nowhere to claim Prizefighter glory early last year and has since followed up with three solid knock-out victories.
“This is the first fight where I’ve had time off work to train” reveals Tom to Livefight. “It’s not so much extra training as I always train very hard but now I can rest properly afterwards too. I’d say this is the best camp I’ve ever had.”
“I had a niggle with the weight before the Rod Smith fight so I’ve included strength and conditioning work to my training regime since last November. I’ve been working with Sam Vance three times a week and have never had any problems (with weight) since.”
Doran first turned pro in 2009 and raced to ten wins inside two years but was then absent for three. After a comeback points win over tough Harry Matthews, Tom entered Prizefighter at the Blackpool Winter Gardens with just one fight under his belt in four years.
The Welshman didn’t show much ring rust on the night though, out-scoring Craig Cunningham and Luke Keeler before knocking out experienced Cello Renda in the final. Since that triumph fifteen months ago, the talented Connahs Quay fighter has impressed in three subsequent contests.
“I definitely feel I’ve improved since last June to now” says the undefeated Doran. “The Mike Byles fight I wasn’t very happy about as I took a while to get going but once I got into my rhythm I got him out of there (in the fifth). Rod Smith was just basically a very good body shot (knocking out the previously unbeaten Smith in three).”
In Doran’s only fight so far of 2016 he would face Irishman Luke Keeler in a rematch of their Prizefighter semi-final bout. On that occasion Doran would win on points without much drama though the rematch would be short, brutal and explosive…
“It was a war while it lasted wasn’t it?” smiles Tom.
Keeler had commented before the second fight that he had damaged a hand before their previous contest and fancied he would gain revenge in the second meeting. He came flying out of the blocks and the two rivals were soon throwing heavy leather at each other.
It would be Keeler who would strike first; flooring the Welshman heavily by the ropes with a massive over-hand right…
“I don’t really know what was going through my mind (when I went down) but it’s funny when I get caught like that I have this laser-like focus. It’s like everything else shuts off and I lock onto my target and I just zero in.”
Just seconds after Doran rose from his trip to the canvas he was catching Keeler with some huge shots to have the Irishman tottering. A short way into the second round, Doran would fell his foe a third and final time to bring the exciting contest to its conclusion.
Tom Doran is thus in the form of his life and coming off a WBC International win in a contender for UK fight of the year. So why is he such a hefty underdog against Eubank Jr?
“I don’t really care about all that…Eubank Jr is talking one minute about how he’s going to beat Gennedy Golovkin then the next minute he’s talking about going into the Olympics I think it’s all a bit pretentious really. How can you say one minute you’re going to fight the world number one and then in the next breathe say you’re going to box at the Games?”
“They’ve tried to get under my skin but whenever I’m fighting someone I distance myself from them. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is; I’m fighting for the British title. All this talking (the Eubanks) are doing just plays into my favour.”
Doran is a skilful boxer with fast hands, heart and can bang with either hand; I ask Tom does he really think Junior is overlooking him?
“No I honestly think he knows I’m good and can punch” reasons the 28 year old. “I think he just has this image that he’s overlooking people and has to be seen to be doing so but deep down he probably sees me as a potential slip-up. I know he will be taking me seriously.”
Eubank Jr, 22-1 (17), has many critics but there’s no doubting he is a decent fighter blessed with superb conditioning and a speedy, busy style. I ask the challenger, trained in Shotton boxing club by Shane Thomas and his father Clive, what his tactics on the night may be.
“I can’t really say but a lot depends on what (Eubank Jr) does. Some have said he may come out fast and try and smash me early while others have said he knows I bring power so he may box a bit more. Whatever he does though I’ll be ready for him.”
“His strengths are he’s relentless, he has that work-rate and he throws fast combinations but nobody has seen me at my best yet. Before my lay-off I probably showed 50% of my capability, since then maybe 80% but next week I’ll be showing 110%.”
Three months ago Eubank Jr was involved in a near-tragedy when winning his British title against defending champion Nick Blackwell. The tenth-round stoppage caused Blackwell to suffer a bleed on the brain. After coming out of an induced coma, the stricken boxer sensibly retired from the ring and has thankfully made a swift recovery.
Livefight asks Doran if there’s any issue with being the next man to face Eubank Jr?
“No there’s none what-so-ever” he answers immediately. “It wasn’t nice what happened (to Blackwell) but you’ve just got to try to distance yourself from those thoughts as every fight carries a risk but it’s small. It’s very rare anything like that happens so I can’t worry about it.”
Moving swiftly on, the determined Welshman tells Livefight he has had superb sparring ahead of his British title clash.
“I sparred Martin Murray recently and that’s always good sparring as he’s a great fighter and I’m tipping him to beat George Groves next week (on the same O2 show). I’ve also sparred (light-heavyweight contender) Joel McIntyre who boxes the same as Eubank Jr and was the chief sparring partner of Billy Joe Saunders before he beat (Eubank Jr).”
“McIntyre is very similar to Eubank but also bigger so that’s been superb sparring. I’ve also been working with (11-0 Manchester prospect) Marcus Morrison.”
North Wales isn’t greatly known for producing many boxing pros and a big fight involving a North Walian is a rarity. Thus the good people of Flintshire and surrounding areas have been getting behind “Dazzlin” Doran in his quest to become British champion.
“It’s been amazing the support it really has, the mood in the gym has been buzzing about the fight, I’ve had Ben Taylor doing promo videos ahead of the fight which have been brilliant. Locally, everyone has been getting behind me and that has lifted me and given me a boost, it’s been fantastic.”
The incredible second fight between Doran and Keeler
Bruno: I was lucky to meet Tom at ‘An Audience with Frank Bruno’ in Buckley recently. On the night “Big Frank” praised Doran as “down to earth” and said he was “a very focussed young man”.
Fight changer: Three times I’ve seen Tom Doran in a bit of trouble in fights; against Max Maxwell, Cello Renda and Luke Keeler and every time he’s fought back to stop his opponent.
Mutual foe: The only mutual opponent between Eubank Jr and Doran is Yorkshire’s Harry Matthews. While Eubank Jr edged a close six-rounder early into his pro career (stupidly scored 60-54), Doran overcame a last-round knock-down to out-score the same opponent over six rounds in his first fight in three years in 2014.
Anthony Joshua MBE will make the first defence of his IBF World Heavyweight title against unbeaten American Dominic ‘Trouble’ Breazeale at The O2 in London on June 25.
Joshua took both the belt and unbeaten record of American Charles Martin on April 9, and he'll be looking to take another '0' in his maiden defence.
Breazeale brings a formidable 17-0 record to the UK with 15 wins inside the distance and enters the clash on the back of forcing Amir Mansour to retire after five rounds of their clash in January. The Californian is no stranger to London having represented USA in the 2012 Olympic Games, where Joshua won gold.
The full undercard features:
George Groves v Martin Murray
Eliminator for WBA Super-Middleweight title
Chris Eubank Jr v Tom Doran
British Middleweight title
John Wayne Hibbert v Andrea Scarpa
vacant WBC Silver Super-Lightweight title
Dillian Whyte v Cyril Leonet