News April 2019

Neil Perkins: I fear no one, I could beat them all


By @jamacd2011

“I coulda’ been a contender, I coulda’ been somebody.”

The iconic words spoken by Marlon Brando’s character Terry as he laments the decision which ended his promising boxing career, in the 1954 film ‘On The Waterfront’, have become a cliché within pugilism; with good reason.

With exception of those who reach the upper echelons of the sport, most fighters will look back at the “what if?” moments of their careers, some as whimsical fantasy to brighten a dull day, others with genuine regret.

For long enough it appeared as if the immortal line would be applied to the career of Neil Perkins (5-0, 1 KO). Despite a highly decorated amateur career which included bronze medals at the World Championships and the Commonwealth games, he walked away from the sport after failing to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. A brief return to the ring for the 2010 ABA Championships appeared to be the final curtain for his career but in 2012 he decided to try his hand at the professional sport.

“I was 31 or 32 and everyone was asking me if I was turning pro or if I’d retired. I thought I might as well have a go before I get too old and just give it my best shot, just see what I can do. If I get a British title I’ll be happy then.” Perkins told Livefight of his motivation for turning to the paid ranks.

Having been part of the golden generation of amateur boxing in Liverpool, Perkins has seen the likes of David Price, Tony Bellew, Derry Mathews, Paul and Stephen Smith all go to claim titles as professionals but insists that their success did not influence his decision.

“I’m doing it for myself to be honest. I know I’m good enough to do what they’ve all done. I should have turned pro in 2005 when I got my bronze at the World Championships. I didn’t know what to do or what way to go about it. In the end it didn’t turn out right for me. I was looking to go to the Olympics in 2008 and didn’t qualify, it all went wrong for me then.”

With an amateur career that contained great highs but ultimately ended bitterly does the 34-year-old regret not turning professional sooner?

“Yeah, definitely. If you look at the likes of Martin Murray now, I could have been there now. I was as good as him as an amateur. I just wish I did do it then. It’s not worthwhile going on about now because it’s done. I just try and do the best I can now.”

Having initially been promoted by Frank Maloney, Perkins feared he would be left in the boxing wilderness after the veteran promoter retired last October. Signing with Coldwell Promotions and a change of trainer have breathed fresh life in to his career.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I just got left in the lurch. Franny [Smith] was my trainer so I didn’t know what I was doing. I got in touch with Dave [Tonks] and just signed with him, that was it. I really think he’s a good trainer. He’s in it for me, he’s not doing it for his own personal reasons. I coming along well, I’m doing well.”

The ‘Kirdale Leopard’ was scheduled to take his first step up in opposition, against Mark Douglas, last Saturday on his promoter’s show in Manchester until a bigger opportunity presented itself. After several fighters pulled out due to injury, he was offered the opportunity to face former British title challenger Erick Ochieng over eight rounds on Matchroom Sport’s ‘Mersey Beat’ bill at little over a weeks notice. Having been prepared to fight a week earlier, the Liverpudlian jumped at the chance.

“It was great news for me. I just got a phone call asking if I’d fight at the Echo Arena, I didn’t know who against, I just said ‘of course, yeah’. Then they came back and asked if I’d fight Ochieng, I said ‘yeah’.

“This is the only reason I came back boxing, to get these shots, this is what I’m doing it for and nothing else. If I beat him a title can be round the corner. I know I can beat him as well, he’s only small. He’s awkward but I can deal with that. I’ve met every style you can think of; tall, short, fat and thin, I’ve seen it all.”

Perkins, 34, is considerably older than most prospects but insists his advanced years aren’t a hindrance but is aware of that his physical attributes way dwindle with time.

“I feel great to be honest. I can do what I was doing when I was 25. Plus, I’ve got more of an engine now, my stamina has improved because I’m doing pro training.

“Maybe I’ve lost a tiny bit of speed but I’ve still got my reactions. I’m always slipping shots, I don’t get hit much so everything is still there. As soon as that goes, I will leave boxing. As soon as I know I don’t have it anymore I’ll retire.”

With the domestic light-middleweight scene wide open, Perkins is determined to grab this chance to thrust himself to the forefront. None of his previous opponent’s records were winning ones but the increase in calibre of opponent is a challenge he relishes.

“I can’t wait to be honest. I need someone like this, I want to see if I’m good enough at this level. No point fighting journeymen, I’m in it to try and win titles. If I’m not ready now, I’ll never be ready.

“At my weight, light-middle, I don’t fear no one in this country. I’d beat them all. I just need to get more rounds in the bank. If I get a good eight rounds in a good hard fight this weekend I’ll be happy.”

Tickets for ‘Mersey Beat’ are on sale now priced at £30, £40, £60 & £100 through or by calling 0844 8000 400

VIP Tickets are now SOLD OUT

The show will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 2 HD from 7pm.


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