Mark Evans: I'm not worried about Mitchell Smith's power
By Michael J Jones
This Saturday at York Hall, Holyhead prospect Mark Evans will climb through the ropes for fight number eleven against another promising boxer in Mitchell Smith.
Both are unbeaten, Evans in ten (one draw) and Smith in seven in what is the most important contest of both men’s respective careers so far in a bill topped by the Commonwealth Cruiserweight title fight between Tony Conquest and Daniel Ammann.
While Londoner Smith, nick-named the “Baby Faced Assassin”, is a tender 21-years-old, Evans is a mature prospect at 32 after turning pro three years ago shortly before his 30th birthday.
“I feel absolutely great and better than in a long time” Evans tells Livefight ahead of his lightweight clash with Smith. “I just wish I’d lived like this earlier in my career. In my younger days I’d go on the pop and not live right but now I never do anything like that and feel better for it plus I have a Mrs to tow me back into line if needed (laughs).”
Evans certainly has done almost everything right so far in his (9-0-1, 1 KO) career and last year won the Welsh super-featherweight title with a decision over Chuck Jones. The two Welshmen put on a spirited ten-rounder which took place in... Blackpool.
“I know its funny isn’t it?” chuckles Mark of his title win last June. “It was meant to be at Deeside, then it was meant to be at the Liverpool Olympia before it ended up in Blackpool.”
“I’d beaten (Chuck Jones) on my debut so knew he was a tough lad. I’d also heard he was a very talented amateur fighter and he was good but he was also dirty and cut me with his head in the first.”
Evans would recover from his injury and take over in the subsequent rounds to take a deserved 98-95 decision. Despite having never boxed in Wales for any of his pro contests, Mark is quick to praise his loyal supporters who travel in great numbers to cheer on the Welsh hero.
“It’s just fantastic the support I’ve had” acknowledges Mark who also has a day job as a construction worker. “For that fight in Blackpool I had around 200 fans travel up to support me and it’s been the same with all my fights. There’s very little happening in Holyhead boxing-wise so I’m humbled by the support I’ve received so far.”
“I’m hoping after this next fight we can put on a show at Venue Cymru (in Llandudno, North Wales) to give something back to all my supporters.”
The talented Evans turned pro in March 2011 after a stop-start amateur career. Despite taking two lengthy breaks from his chosen sport, Evans was still good enough to win a brace of Welsh titles and also represented Wales at several tournaments.
The Welshman alternates training in his hometown of Holyhead and at the Irlam Boxing Academy under Gary Booth Sr as he seeks to fulfil his considerable potential.
Although he remains unbeaten, Evans has had to navigate a few testing moments so far in his three-year career, such as when dropped in the first by Lee Jennings in Liverpool a year into his pro campaign.
“I thought he looked a good lad before the fight and he really came for me at the first bell” says Mark. “He put that shot in and had me down so I knew after the first I was probably two rounds down.”
With the local fans smelling blood, the visiting fighter responded in the best way possible in the next…
“He came out strong again for the second but I caught him with a sweet left hook and that was the end of that.”
Misleadingly, it would prove to be the Welsh fighter’s only stoppage win to date. The low KO figures owe more to the durability of opposition Evans has faced than any lack of
punching power by the ten-fight prospect.
Seven months after the Jennings win, Evans would return to the Olympia to be a reserve in the Lightweight Prizefighter but disappointingly never got the call though came mighty close.
“When Derry Mathews got badly cut in his first fight I thought ‘this is it’ but they let him continue and he lost his next fight (to eventual winner Terry Flanagan).”
Could he have possibly competed with one of the best-ever Prizefighter line-ups in the tournament’s history?
“Yes I believe so” replies a confident Mark who was (7-0) at the time. “A fighter always boxes better against better opponents and I was in good shape and bang on the weight.”
Despite being a neat-boxing type, the 32-year-old can also go to the trenches when required but it very nearly cost him in a four-rounder in December 2012 against the gangling Scott Moises (again at Liverpool).
The awkward Moises made a good start but Evans, giving up a chunk of height and reach to his Norfolk rival, fought back hard. The bout was scored all square at 38 points apiece and Mark admits it was a rough contest.
“The problem was it had meant to be a six-round fight and was cut at last minute to four rounds” explains the North Wales fighter. “He came out strong and was trying to jab my head in in the first but as soon as I was getting my own shots off he shut up shop and didn’t want to know.”
“I though I’d won but it’s just one of those decisions.”
Since then Mark has scored two victories in a relatively quiet 2013 but predicts a far busier year this season starting with the dangerous-looking eight-rounder against Mitchell Smith.
What does he know about Saturday’s opponent who out-pointed Scott Moises last time out to lift the Southern Area title?
“I’ve seen a few of his fights, he’s young and strong and I give him credit. This fight has made me knuckle down as I know it will be tough but it’s the type of fight I need now to further my career and reach the next level.”
“I’m not too worried about his power as the guys he’s stopped have been nothing special and he’s also boxed a few boys I have and had similar results. It should still be a great fight.”
And what are the plans for the remainder of the year should he come through the Smith test?
“I leave the decisions to my manager Steve Wood but ideally by the end of this year I’d like to be getting in position for a British title shot or maybe an eliminator for it.”
Before we conclude, Evans insists on praising his team, sponsors and fans.
“Gary Booth Sr and Steve Wood gave me a chance and signed me and we all get on very well. I’d like to thank my sponsors Hardcore Gym, Nashka Barbershop, Valley Butchers, Trinity Driving School and Wardrobe Clothing for their continued support. I’d especially like to thank Hardcore Gym as they’ve given me the financial support which allows me to travel to train around work. I’d also like to send a big thank you to all my fans for their fantastic support.”
You can follow Mark on Twitter @marky_evans81
A few remaining tickets are available from Queensberry Promotions on 01992 550 888. Doors will open at 5pm with the first fight at 5.30pm.
Watch Conquest v Ammann, plus an action-packed undercard featuring hot prospects Mitchell Smith and Tom Baker, on BoxNation, the Channel of Champions from 7pm on Saturday night. (Sky Ch.437/449 HD, Virgin Ch.546). Join at www.boxnation.com