Kerry Hope talks about tough Proska challenge ahead
Kerry Hope; Iím not coming to lose, Iím coming to win that European title
By Michael J Jones
WELSH southpaw Kerry Hope is fired-up for his European title shot against unbeaten champion Grzegorz Proksa. The massive underdog took the time to speak to Livefight ahead of the all-southpaw showdown on the undercard of the big Kell Brook-Matthew Hatton fight in Sheffield on March 17.
Merthyr Tydfilís Hope, 30-years-old, has endured a stop-start career so far at 16-3 (1). Starting out under Enzo Calzaghe, the neat-boxing Welshman raced to eleven straight wins before being derailed by heavy-handed Matthew Hall four years ago. Since that loss, Hope suffered an unfortunate cut-eye stoppage to Taz Jones before reallocating to America to train under U.S.-based Brití John Tandy.
After a controversial decision loss to undefeated Caleb Truax up at super-middleweight, Kerry returned to the UK to make his comeback. Since hooking up with Karl Ince in Bolton, Hope has won four straight fights, scoring his best-ever win last time out.
Last October, Hope boxed Southamptonís Tony Hill in a British title eliminator emerging with a deserved majority points decision. The quick-handed Welshman used a high work-rate to pile up the points against the big-punching Hill, even scoring a knock-down in the concluding round.
A British title chance failed to materialise but, shockingly, the Welshman was offered a bout with the 26-0 (19) Proksa.
The formidable Polish fighter is coming off his most impressive win to date by crushing former world champion Sebastian Sylvester in three one-sided rounds to lift the belt.
Proksa is at his absolute peak at 27-years-old and has won his last eleven contests inside schedule. In comparison, Hope was in training for a Welsh title fight with the 3-10-1 Gary Cooper when he got the call to face the big-punching Pole.
A lot of people are completely writing off the former amateur star but there is definitely something in the friendly Welshmanís tone that exudes a quiet confidence.
Here is what he had to say-
LF) Hey Kerry, how is training going for your biggest ever fight?
KH) Itís going really well thanks, Iím just looking forward to the fight now.
LF) Did you see Proksaís last contest with Sylvester?
KH) Yes Iíve watched (the fight) a few times. I think Sebastian Sylvester was a little past his best and knew he was going to lose. A few years earlier I think heíd have given Proksa a tougher fight.
LF) Are there weaknesses you see in Proksa that you feel you can capitalise on?
KH) Every fighter has weaknesses. I can see things he does that Iím hoping I can capitalise on; no-body is without faults.
LF) Youíve lost a few fights along the way but are currently 4-0 under Karl Ince. How do you feel Karl has improved you as a fighter?
KH) Heís made me a better fighter in more ways than one; I feel stronger, fitter and I really feel Karl has given me my confidence back.
If you look at my losses such as the Matthew Hall fight I lost to the better man but I was also struggling at the light-middleweight limit. Taz Jones stopped me on a cut and I lost in America due to being the away fighter.
That fight with Caleb Truax everybody who saw it knew Iíd won. I thought Iíd beaten him comfortably but obviously I fought him in America so that cost me.
With training with Enzo Calzaghe, he trained a lot of fighters all the same, like he trained Joe (Calzaghe). With Karl I feel myself again, a much improved fighter.
LF) You scored arguably your biggest win last time out against another southpaw in Tony Hill. Has that win given you confidence to take on someone like Proksa?
KH) Well Iíd boxed only two or three weeks before that fight. It was only a six rounder but immediately afterwards I was offered the Tony Hill fight. I agreed to fight there and then. I didnít spar much before that fight but I thought I boxed well to win.
LF) How surprised were you to get this chance?
KH) The Tony Hill fight was a British title eliminator but the British title fight never materialised. I think Proksa was probably wanting to fight either Darren Barker or Matthew Macklin or Martin Murray but those fights never could be made so I got the call. I know a lot of people are writing me off but hopefully I can change peopleís minds on the night.
LF) You are obviously a massive underdog; are you happy to be in that position?
KH) Yes itís made me very determined to prove people wrong. Iím a proud man and when so many are writing you off the pride kicks in and you want to prove everybody wrong. People say Iím not on his level but I think a lot of his fights, his opponentís have looked at his record and been beaten before theyíve even thrown a punch.
I know heís good, even with careful match-making you probably wouldnít get to 26-0 and 19 knockouts. I feel unlike a lot of his previous opposition in that Iím coming to win, Iím coming to take that European title off him.
LF) Can you tell me about your tactics on the night?
KH) Well obviously we have a game-plan and weíve been working hard to master it in the gym. Iíve sparred Ryan Rhodes so thatís been good preparation.
LF) Your fight is on the undercard of Kell Brook vs Matthew Hatton. How do you see that fight going and who do you think will win?
KH) They are making Matthew a big underdog and saying Kell is the next big star but, you know, Matthew has the experience and you canít write him off. Iím not saying who will win but I see it being a very tough fight for both men.
LF) Kerry thank you and all the best of luck for March 17.
KH) Ok thanks very much.