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Up Close And Personal With Iain ‘The Blessed One’ Weaver

by on Sep.25, 2013, under Interviews

IainWeaver1743WEBREADYUp Close And Personal With Iain ‘The Blessed One’ Weaver
Photos and Interview by Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

For this edition of Up Close and Personal I caught up with former amateur star Iain ‘The Blessed One’ Weaver, ahead of his welcome return to York Hall, where he fights on the Dave Murphy Acourtier Events NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS mega event on Friday, October 4th.

Before we get to the interview itself, as usual here’s a little scene setting and as I’ve already covered his amateur career previously, this will be just about Ian since making the decision to turn pro.

Iain is undoubtedly one of the most talented and exciting young boxers, to have made the transition from the Team GB amateur squad to the pro ranks this year.

After losing out on a London 2012 Olympic spot, due to the weight division he campaigned in being one of those dropped that year, Iain signed with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport in July, just as the games were due to begin.

At the time Eddie Hearn announced that Iain would be debuting on the undercard of Darren Barker’s comeback fight, at Alexandra Palace in September that year, however life is never that simple it seems.

If losing out on an Olympic place wasn’t bad enough, Iain then had to endure months of uncertainty, as to whether he would actually get to fight professionally – I don’t intend to go into this area as it has been well covered in the media over the past year or so.

Anyway, after months of waiting Iain did eventually make his professional debut, at York Hall back in April, and boy did he do it in some style.

For those of you that were not lucky enough to be at York Hall that night, here’s a snippet from my fight report.

“Weaver entered the arena with the largest entourage I have ever seen take part in a ring walk at York Hall, amongst the twenty strong team were Southern Area Champion Bradley Skeete as well as many of Weaver’s gym mates from Al Smith’s iGym.

Right from the opening bell Weaver determinedly stamped his authority on the fight, landing some superb sharp jabs and crisp lefts. Weaver’s amateur pedigree shined through, his movement and ring craft was nothing short of poetry in motion.

You couldn’t help but feel for Lawniczak, who responded whenever the opportunity arose – which wasn’t as often as I’m sure he would have liked. Each time the young Pole had any success, Weaver would respond in kind with double handed flurries, forcing Lawniczak to go back on the defensive.

Round two see Weaver step up the pressure, unloading a multitude of shots, to both body and head, from every conceivable angle possible. His seriously quick hands were virtually a blur as he unloaded a barrage of double handed shots.

About midway through the round, weaving changed tactics and started throwing hard right hand jabs, often followed with sharp left hooks to the body.

More of the same followed in the third, although the savvy Lawniczak used holding tactics a little more, to keep the barrage of shots reigning down on him to a minimum.

In the final stanza Weaver played to the crowd, keeping his distance to prevent the Pole from holding before stepping in and picking his shots and weaving to prevent any return shots from landing.

To describe Weaver’s performance as excellent is one of the understatements of the year, it was an awesome display from the Dorset youngster, as such it came as no surprise to anyone, when world class referee Micky Vann’s scorecard was read out, it showed a shutout 40-36 points win for young Weaver.”

Almost straight after the fight Iain flew of to America, where he not only spent time training at Freddie Roach’s famous Wild Card gym in LA, but also found the time to get some competitive action – racking up a sensational first round knockout over French Polynesian prospect Karihi Tehei (3(KO2)- 1) at the County Fairgrounds in Ventura, California on the 12th July.

Now back in the UK, Iain’s manager, Gary Hyde, wasted no time in arranging his next outing, which as previously stated will be at York Hall in London on Friday, 4th October.

Anyway, enough scene setting, now it’s time to get Up Close and Personal with Iain ‘The Blessed One’ Weaver.

Name:Iain Weaver
Ring name:The Blessed One
Division:Featherweight/Super Featherweight
Where Born:Dorchester
Age:23

Rio: Family background:

Iain: My Dad was a boxer, Grandad run his own gym, an Amateur Gym – The Lonsdale Boxing Club, so I’m from a boxing family and bought up around it and that’s why I’m in to it.

Rio: When did you first become interested in boxing and why?

Iain: I was five when I used to follow my dad to the gym and I always used to mess around at the bottom of the bags watching the training and doing little bits.

Soon as I was old enough to fight I did, that’s it.

Rio: Why did you decide to turn pro?

Iain: I was on the Olympic squad four and half years, won nine medals out fo ten tournaments.

Then they moved the weight category from 57kg to 56kg so my weight was gone so I had to move up to 60kg, so I should have been in first position to go to the Olympic qualifiers but they gave it to Sam Maxwell, who had been on the squad three months and didn’t have half my experience.

So after that I decided the amateur game wasn’t for me, as I had done everything I needed to do and instead chose to turn pro.

Rio: Who are the main ‘Team Weaver’ members?

Iain: My manager is Gary Hyde, he also manages Guillermo Rigondeaux, the best in the World at Super Bantamweight, also manages Chris van Heerden, the IBO Welterweight Champion and Isaac Dogboe.

My trainer is Al Smith, boys in our gym, the iGym are Bradley Skeete, Lewis Pettitt, Ricky Boylan, Johnny Garton, Adam Dingsdale and Lloyd Ellett, all unbeaten kids, the gym’s going really well at the minute.

Rio: What’s your training schedule?

Iain: I train in Bromley in Kent, I’ve just come back from America, training out there for three months at the Wild Card Gym, but I’m back now and training in Bromley.

I do my long runs in the morning, get to the gym about six o’clock at night, do my pads, sparring, bags, weights and everything, then go to the track together.

We train together so when we’re not in the gym, doing our weights and conditioning, we’re at the track.

Rio: What is your favourite part of training?

Iain: Favourite bit for me is getting on the scales and weighing in, because all the hard work is done.

I like doing pads, to be honest I like doing pads, because when you’re feeling sharp and fit and you’re on the pads it’s great.

I suppose the same with sparring, when you’re sparring well and you have a good sparring session it feels good.

Rio: Who have you been sparring for your upcoming fight?

Iain: While I was training at the Wild Card in America I was sparring with Chris Avalos, number one in America at Super Bantamweight, Michael Farenas, who dropped Yurorkis Gamboa, Alexander Perez, Denis Shafikov, the European Light Welterweight Champion.

I’ll be definitely sparring Billy Rumble to prepare for the October 4th fight, but not sure who else at the moment.

Rio: How would you describe your fight style?

Iain: I think I’m a slick boxer, I can stand and have a fight if I need to have a fight but usually I try to hit but not get hit, you know.

Rio: Which has been your favourite fight to date and why?

Iain: Probably my last fight, when I knocked the kid out in the first round. He was meant to be a good kid, he’d come to win, his record was three wins and a single loss.

Yeah, he was good but I did a job on him and knocked him out in the first round.

It was nice because Victor Ortiz, Brandon Rios , Michael Garcia were all there watching it and Victor Ortiz came up to me afterwards and said what a good performance it was.

Rio: Who is your all time favourite boxer and why?

Iain: At the minute it’s got to be Guillermo Rigondeaux, not just because he’s with Gary, he’s the best out there and double World Champion. He’s what Boxing is to me, he hits but doesn’t get hit.

In the past it’s got to be Pernell Whitaker.

Rio: Keeping in the same vein, all time favourite fight you have watched?

Iain: It has to be either Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti or Morales-Barrera number 1

Rio: Which current match-up would you like to see happen this season?

Iain: Well you’ve got Alvarez-Mayweather happening already, I’m looking forward to Matthysse-Garcia, which is a fight I wanted to happen, because that’s going to be one hell of a fight.

I wouldn’t mind seeing DeGale box Groves again, I think it will be a different result if they fought again with DeGale winning.

Rio: What’s your fight day routine?

Iain: I normally weigh in the night before, so I get up in the morning, bit of breakfast, make sure my kits already in the bag and ready to go.

So then all I have to do is chill out before traveling to the venue.

When I’m at the venue I have a look at the ring and that’s about it really so listen to a bit of music and chill out until I’m called to the ring.

Rio: That takes us right into the next question, what is your entrance track?

Iain: The last one was by Christina Aguilera, but I’m not sure about the next one, I might have the same one again, or get one made.

The last one had a little cut in at the start, a little bit rocky and a little inspirational stuff.

Rio: What are your ambitions as a boxer?

Iain: To be World Champion.

Rio: Outside boxing, what is your favourite sport?

Iain: I don’t mind watching football now and again, I’m not a big football supporter, I like snooker to be honest, a lot of people think it’s boring but I don’t mind it.

Rio: How do you relax outside boxing?

Iain: I do a bit of shooting, shotguns and clay pigeons, Pheasant shooting, but mainly chill with my girlfriend, going to the movies, doing a bit of shopping and just chill out after a hard week training.

It’s nice to go home at the weekend and just chill out.

Rio: Favourite book?

Iain: To be honest I’ve only ever read one book, I was on holiday in Cyprus and I bought the Sugar Ray book, I’m halfway through that, so I’ve never really read a book.

Rio: Favourite music?

Iain: R&B, I like the old stuff, Sam Cooke you know all the old stuff, Dean Martin.

Rio: Favourite film or TV show?

Iain: I like Braveheart, Troy and them sort of films and on TV I’m into ‘The Only Way Is Essex’

Rio: So fans can follow you what are your Twitter and Facebook names?

Iain Twitter is @IainWeaver and Facebook is just Iain Weaver – but remember it is Iain.

Rio: Finally is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Iain: Just please come and watch me on October the 4th at York Hall, it’ll be my first six rounder and if you need tickets message me on Facebook or Twitter.

It’ll be a really good night and I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring again.

Iain Weaver, against a yet to be named opponent, features on the Dave Murphy, Acourtier Events promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ event, which takes place at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Friday, 4th October 2013

Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com – www.mariannemarston.com – www.acourtier.com – or in person from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning town – www.tkoboxinggym.com – and Ringtone Gym in Euston – www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com – or direct from Iain or any of the boxers taking part in the event, or call – 07960 850645, 07809 499896 or 07557 641597 for further information.

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BILLY JOE SAUNDERS: ‘THIRTY-SIX MINUTES IS A LONG TIME AND I GUARANTEE I’LL MAKE RYDER WORK FOR EVERY SINGLE SECOND HE’S IN THE RING WITH ME.’

by on Sep.20, 2013, under Interviews

Billy Joe Saunders with Sparring Partner Joel McIntyre at the TRAD TKO Gym in London - Photo Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

Billy Joe Saunders with Sparring Partner Joel McIntyre at the TRAD TKO Gym in London – Photo Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

BILLY JOE SAUNDERS: ‘THIRTY-SIX MINUTES IS A LONG TIME AND I GUARANTEE I’LL MAKE RYDER WORK FOR EVERY SINGLE SECOND HE’S IN THE RING WITH ME.’

Big time boxing debuts at the futuristic Copper Box Arena – home to handball at the 2012 Olympics – this Saturday evening, and Queensberry Promotions has assembled a talent stacked card to honour the occasion.

Headlining is Billy Joe Saunders’ lip smacking second defence of his British and Commonwealth middleweight strap against fellow unbeaten southpaw John Ryder from Islington.

Tensions are sure to be high with both principals committed to attack and bringing large vocal followings, it can’t fail to be a humdinger. But who will depart with ‘bragging rights’?

Remaining tickets, priced at £40, £50, £70 and £120 are available from www.tkoboxoffice.com – tel 07960 850645

Watch the whole ‘Rock the Box’ card – which also features Dereck Chisora’s challenge for the vacant European heavyweight crown, plus civil wars between Billy Joe Saunders and John Ryder and Liam Walsh against Joe Murray, and red-hot super-flyweight Paul Butler – live and exclusive on BoxNation, the Channel of Champions, from 7pm on Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546. Join at www.boxnation.com

Boxing writer Glynn Evans found champion Saunders in relaxed mode, clearly reveling in his elevated status as bill topper, when they caught up earlier this week.

What positives did you take from your comprehensive points victory over Cork’s previously unbeaten ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan last time out?

I like to think I showed maturity against a good, tough, durable opponent. I’d been warned about his strength but I didn’t find him especially strong. He kept coming, sure, but he just took a beating. ‘Spike’ could take a shot, I’ll definitely give him that.

Beforehand, you’ll remember everybody was saying that ‘Spike’ was also a tremendous puncher. But, hand on heart, he didn’t hurt me once probably because he didn’t really hit me. Everything he was supposed to do well, his strength, his punch, I managed to take away from him.

I like to think that I showed the boxing people that I belong at the very top, that I’m now above British level. And trust me, there’s a lot more to come.

That hard 12 round fight took place just nine weeks ago. Might that count against you in the later rounds if the Ryder fight follows a similar course?

I doubt it. (Coach) Jimmy Tibbs knows what he’s doing. For this fight, I’ve not sparred one 12 rounder. It’s been six and eights, with the odd ten (rounds). It’s been about saving me.

Thankfully, I’ve retained a lot of the fitness I built up while preparing for the O’Sullivan fight. Besides, it didn’t take too much out of me. I basically did what I wanted, taking hardly any shots. I was able to show my class without really getting out of third gear. If anything, it should stand me in good stead for Saturday rather than work against me.

How has your prep gone at the TKO Gym in Canning Town. Previously, you’d said you were going to train out in Spain.

Yeh, I did but we all sat around and decided to say home. Straight after the O’Sullivan fight, I had two weeks off then I’ve been back on it, working hard again.

I’ve had some quality sparring with my old opponent Tony Hill who’s a real quality fighter when he’s at super-middle. He’s weighing 13 ½ stone in our gym. (Saunders stopped Hill in 30 seconds of a Commonwealth middleweight title fight). I’ve also been working with some other top class guys who I’d rather not name. Everything is spot on.

I know you’ve worked closely in the past with Darren Barker. You must have been delighted when, as you’d predicted, he recently bagged the IBF title against Daniel Geale over in Atlantic City.

Absolutely chuffed for the man. Not only is Darren a good fighter, he’s a cracking fella. No one deserves it more after what he’s been through.

From a personal viewpoint, it makes it easier for me if there’s a world middleweight title to aim for in this country, rather than having to travel to the USA, Germany, Australia or wherever.

I’d like to think that me against Darren could happen sometime next year but, if the fight was made for this Saturday, I’d not turn it down. I was bred to fight. That’s just the way I was made. If someone offered me a fight on the street, I’d take it. I’m a fighting man.

Matt Macklin has been skirting around world class for a couple of years but is now without a belt, following his knockout defeat in a WBA challenge to Gennady Golovkin. He’d represent an ideal opponent to help bridge the gap between domestic and top international class. Would that fight interest you?

It would and it wouldn’t. I was actually due to spar him in the US in preparation for his challenge to Sergio Martinez last year but that fell through.

I’d have no problem fighting Matthew, a very good fighter. But right now, I want to get my Lonsdale Belt outright then fight others who’ve got something I want or will elevate my ranking, help put me in a position to fight for a world title.

No disrespect at all to Matthew, but he faces a long, hard road back after losing to one of the best fighters on the planet. For the right money, I’ll fight anyone.

Saturday’s bill at the Copper Box Arena is certainly the biggest in which you’ve been the headline act. Are you enjoying the limelight?

Absolutely. It’s a luxury.

It makes me extremely happy and proud when I see the posters and billboards. It reflects all the hard work I’ve done in my boxing career and the confidence that Frank Warren must have in me to build his show around my fight. It sort of shows how good I’ve become and drives me on to improve even further.

I always enjoy the media side and the press conferences. Professional boxing is all about building a fan base and allowing the public to find out more about you. It goes with the job.

What has been the reaction to your heightened profile within the Romany community? I’d estimate that about 85% of my community are very supportive and want me to do well. There’s still possibly 15% who’d like to see me get knocked out but unfortunately you get negative people from all walks.

There’s nothing I despise more than jealous people. If anybody works hard and does well, let them enjoy whatever rewards their hard work might bring. I like to see everybody with full and plenty. I’ll be doing all I can to win over those who still doubt me.

What are your feelings to those from outside your community who are curious to find out more about a Romany prizefighter?

I’ve always welcomed those from outside the travelling community and I’m happy to talk to them about our ways, provided they’re respectful. I probably have more close friends from outside the travelling community than I do from within.

Sadly, for the first time, Dean Powell won’t be part of your team on fight night, following his recent passing. Is it possible to explain the influence that Dean had on your professional career?

Such a big shame. Dean helped work my corner for a number of my fights. He made all my matches and helped me with the contract renewals.

Along with Frank and Jimmy Tibbs, Dean was a very crucial part of my team. He was an inspiration, a very honest man who had so much life. It was an honour and a pleasure to have been associated with him.

This fight is dedicated to him and we’ve already had t-shirts made up. He’ll be sadly missed.

Challenger John Ryder, known as ‘The Gorilla’, is feted for his strength. You seemed inconvenienced by Nick Blackwell’s strength when you fought for the vacant British title in December. How do you intend combating Ryder’s strength on Saturday?

I’ve been on record several times that I took Nick Blackwell lightly. I cut a few corners in training, perhaps didn’t push myself as hard as I might have, on a few runs. In the changing rooms, I’m usually a very nervy, agitated person but against Nick, I felt nothing. It was worrying me that I felt nothing!

I got found out a little bit late on against Nick but I’m so happy that it happened sooner in my career, rather than later on against a better opponent in a more significant fight. I’ve learnt my lesson and it definitely won’t happen again.

But I don’t think I’ll be found short for strength on Saturday and John Ryder’s strength certainly doesn’t frighten me. As a teenage amateur, I fought plenty of rough, strong Russians and Ukrainians but one of my biggest strengths inside the ring has always been my adaptability. If things aren’t initially going my way, I can make adjustments to get things right.

Without wanting to sound big headed, I’ve always been good at reading what the opponent is going to do. I half know what they’ll throw before they throw it. It’s something I’ve been blessed with and I intend utilising it fully against John Ryder on Saturday night.

Given your huge sway in amateur and professional experience, does it surprise you that several pundits are calling this a ‘pick ‘em’ fight or even swaying towards Ryder?

Well, we’re two up and coming unbeaten fighters so maybe it’s a hard fight to read until we’re in the ring together and the first bell sounds.

But listen, the bookies odds for me and Ryder are similar to what they were for Mayweather-Alvarez last Saturday yet everybody knew that Mayweather would win easily and that’s exactly what he did. I see this fight being exactly the same. The odds for me against ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan were similar and look what happened there.

Ryder hasn’t travelled beyond round eight yet. Could that prove the deciding factor?

You know, I think it could. There’s a big difference between eight rounds and 12 rounds. That’s the period where title fights are won and lost.

I’m not saying John has got poor stamina but he’s not shown that he can do more than eight whereas my last three have all gone the full 12 round distance. I’ve shown I can cope, no problems. John hasn’t.

Whatever he says, no matter what he’s done in the gym, how fit he gets himself, there’ll be nagging doubts in his mind. He might have done 50 rounds straight off in sparring but all championship level fighters will tell you it’s a completely different proposition doing it under the spotlight, with little gloves and no head guard, when your nerves are tingling. Thirty-six minutes is a very long time and I guarantee that I’ll make him work for every single second that he’s in the ring with me.

What type of fight can fans expect on Saturday night and what gives you confidence that you can retain?

I’ve prepared for a very tough contest that will be fought at a very high pace and I expect there’ll be action right from the start. As long as John Ryder’s still standing, he’s going to pose a threat. I’ve got to be respectful of that. We’ll see exactly what he’s got once the first bell sounds.

In my mind, I’m expecting John Ryder will be the best boxer and the best fighter I’ve ever faced. That’s what I’ve been training for. No doubt, he’ll come out and attempt to apply a lot of pressure. But everybody is mistaken if they’re expecting me to float and bounce. Ryder’s got to be put on the back foot and he will be.

My only prediction is that I will win. In boxing, there’s no place for second place. Winning is bred into me.

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Up Close And Personal With Antonio Counihan, Ahead Pro Debut On Oct 4th

by on Sep.19, 2013, under Interviews

AntonioCounihan1225Up Close And Personal With Antonio Counihan, Ahead Pro Debut On Oct 4th
Photos and Interview by Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

For this edition of Up Close and Personal I recently caught up with former amateur star Antonio Counihan, ahead of his highly anticipated professional debut, on the Dave Murphy, Acourtier Events, promoted NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS mega event at York Hall on Friday 4th October.

During his stellar amateur career young Antonio fought eighty competitive bouts, fifteen of which were Team GB Internationals, accruing numerous national accolades along the way, including winning the Junior ABAs, The Great Britain Championships and the Haringey Box Cup, as well as the ultimate honour of having the Captaincy of the England National Amateur Boxing Squad bestowed upon him.

With such an outstanding amateur pedigree behind him, it should come as no surprise that Antonio is being hailed as a future Champion.

OK, scene setting done, now let’s get onto the interview.

Name: Antonio Counihan
Division : Lightweight
Born: Birmingham, England
Age : 22

Rio: Do you come from a family boxing background?

Antonio: I’m from a boxing background, my dad boxed amateur, all my uncles boxed amateur, my brother boxed and my mum bought me a boxing glove cake for my first birthday, so boxing’s in my blood.

Rio: When did you first become interested in boxing and why?

Antonio: As far as I can remember I’ve been interested in boxing, I remember my dad and family all coming round our house to watch big fights!

I use to have gloves when I was a kid and spar my dad and brother!

Rio: Why did you decide to turn pro?

Antonio: I won the Junior ABAs and the British title, I was England captain and part of team GB boxing but just missed out on going to a Olympic qualifier.

I just beat the world champion and the GB lad who went to the qualifier.

I had 80 amateur bouts, so me and my dad decided it was time to turn pro.

Rio: Who are the main ‘Team Counihan’ members?

Antonio: My dad is head coach, my brother Louie Counihan is my strength and conditioning coach, Neil Hateley is my fitness coach and Jon Pegg is part of the gym.

Where do you train and what is your training schedule?

I train at my dad’s gym Eastside boxing club in Birmingham.

I train six days a week, twice a day. We do fitness training Tuesdays and Thursday, spar and pads Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I run five times a week and also do technical sessions.

Rio: What would you say your favourite part of training is?

Antonio: I pretty much like all parts if training, there’s a good buzz in our gym at the moment so it makes it more enjoyable.

Rio: Who have you been sparring for your up and coming fight?

Antonio: I’ve had great sparring for my fight I’ve been sparring Curtis Woodhouse, as he’s part of our gym, for his Commonwealth title fight against Derry Mathews.

I’ve also been sparring Ryan Walsh for his British & Commonwealth title fight, against Lee Selby, also gym members like Marcus Ffrench and Carl Wiggings.

Rio: How would you describe your fighting style? :

Antonio: I’m a long-range boxer first, but can fight inside if needed.

Rio: Which has been your favourite fight to date and why?

Antonio: I’d say when I boxed Ray Moylett from Ireland.

He was world champion at the time, it was England versus Ireland in Dublin and he was captain of Ireland team!

It was good to beat him, never mind in his own back yard.

Rio: Who is your all time favourite boxer and why?

Antonio: My favourite all time boxer is Oscar de la Hoya, I’ve watched him since I was a kid.

To be ten times world champ, in six weight divisions is special.

Rio: Keeping in the same vein, all time favourite fight you have watched?

Antonio: Fav fight is probably the Gatti-Ward fights, I watch them on YouTube a lot, it gives me a buzz every time I watch them.

Rio: Which current match-up would you like to see happen this season?

Antonio: There are loads of good fights happening this year but I still would like to see Mayweather versus PacMan.

Rio: What’s your fight day routine?

Antonio: I like to just relax all day!

But I always make sure I have an hour sleep a few hours before my fight, It’s tradition.

Rio: What is your entrance track?

Antonio: I don’t have a specific one, but just something that gets me up for it.

Rio: What are your ambitions as a boxer?

Antonio: Ambition is to go to all the way to the top and be world champ.

Rio: Outside boxing, what is your favourite sport?

Antonio: I am a big Birmingham City footie fan.

I was a season ticket holder for four years, I love going the away games when I get the chance as well.

Rio: How do you relax outside boxing?

Antonio: I relax by going out for food, cinemas and just chilling out really.

Rio: Favourite book?

Antonio: I only read the Boxing News.

Rio: Favourite music?

Antonio: My favourite music is House music and a bit of garage, that’s all that’s on my iPod.

Rio: Favourite film or TV show?

Antonio: Fav film has got to be the classic Scarface! My mum and dad got my name from that film “Antonio Montana”

Rio: Twitter and Facebook?

Antonio: Twitter: @counihan91 and Facebook: Antonio Counihan.

Rio: Finally is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Antonio: I’d just say follow my journey to the top, I’m dealing with world rated boxers with ease day in day out in the gym, so I know that’s where I’m going.

Antonio Counihan, against a yet to be named opponent, will feature on the Dave Murphy, Acourtier Events promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ event, which takes place at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Friday, 4th October 2013

Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com – www.mariannemarston.com – www.acourtier.com – or in person from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning town – www.tkoboxinggym.com – and Ringtone Gym in Euston – www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com – or from any of the boxers taking part in the event, or call – 07960 850645, 07809 499896 or 07557 641597 for further information.

Go online to www.Acourtier.com for additional information on the NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS event or the Acourtier stable of boxers. Follow Acourtier Events on Twitter @AcourtierEvents – friend us at www.Facebook.com/AcourtierEvents
- and on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/acourtier-events

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Up Close And Personal With Marianne ‘Golden Girl’ Marston

by on Sep.12, 2013, under Buzz, Interviews

MarianneMarston1286Up Close And Personal With Marianne ‘Golden Girl’ Marston
Photos and Interview by Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

For this edition of Up Close and Personal I’m really pleased to catch up with a true battler, both inside and outside the ring, Marianne ‘Golden Girl’ Marston, ahead of her upcoming bout against Masa Bacanov on the Dave Murphy Acourtier Events promoted NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS mega event at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Friday 4th October.

With all the press Marianne has received over the years, especially during her time in America, I am sure most readers are already aware of Marianne, but whilst she attracts a lot of column inches, invariably it’s about the superstar boxers that back her to go all the way, her visa woes, or her efforts to encourage more women to box, which is great, but I want something a little bit different, I wanted the real Marianne Marston.

As such following a recent sparring session, with former British and European Bantamweight Champion Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa, at the TRAD TKO gym I managed to persuade Marianne, who also coaches at the gym, to take a few minutes out from her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

But before we get to the interview itself, I feel a little scene setting is in order.

Marianne was discovered by late, great Heavyweight Champion of the World Smokin’ Joe Frazier in 2007, Joe was so impressed that not only did he sign her on the spot but asked her to relocate to America to train full time with him, his son Marvis Frazier and Val Colbert at his North Philadelphia landmark gym.

She did, but within months of relocating to Philadelphia Frazier’s Gym closed, which was the first major setback to her career.

About a month later Marianne relocated to the James Shuler Memorial Gym in West Philadelphia, within a month or so Livvy Cunningham, the wife and manager of two time IBF Cruiserweight Champion Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham invited her to join their team.

Later that year, following a sparring session with Christina Leadbeater, promoter Ivan Cohen approached Livvy Cunningham with an offer to sign Marianne and debut her early in 2009.

Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner Greg Sirb, who was also present, was equally impressed and agreed to license Marianne, subject to her obtaining a P1 Professional Athlete Visa.

In February 2009 Marianne returned to the UK, to obtain the visa that would enable her to fight, on the undercard of Brian Cohen’s WBC Continental Americas title fight in South Philly on the 9th May that year.

Unfortunately the American Embassy in London refused her application, as she hadn’t fought in an international competition here in the UK.

What followed next was a full on media campaign, initiated by a Philadelphia journalist Kerry O’Connor and supported by some of the biggest names from the City of Brotherly Love.

Within days the campaign went global, almost instantly the American Immigration service was inundated with e.mails and phone calls from tens of thousands of boxing fans, calling for them to allow Marianne to return and fight.

Needless to say, bureaucrats being what they are by nature, they refused to change their decision.

However, that wasn’t going to stop Marianne’s promoter, the aforementioned Ivan Cohen, who came up with a plan, code named ‘Team America’, with the intention of bringing over a team of Philly based boxers, comprising of Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, Daphir ‘No Fear’ Smith, Brian ‘Bionic Bull’ Cohen, Gerald ‘The Jedi’ Nobles, Eric ‘The Outlaw’ Hunter, Tim Witherspoon Jnr, Nathalie Brown and Christina Leadbeater, to take on a UK team that would include Marianne.

Supporting ‘Team America’ on this mission were some serious ‘Big Guns’ in the form of World Champions, Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham, ‘Terrible’ Tim Witherspoon, Buster Drayton, Robert ‘Bam Bam’ Hines and the man who ‘discovered’ and brought Marianne to America in the first place, Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

However, the British Boxing Board of Control soon put an end to that plan, by refusing to license Marianne.

BBBofC General Secretary Robert Smith stated to me personally that he didn’t see any reason why they should license her, as she would have just one fight here and then return to America – a valid point in one way I suppose, Marianne did have an unprecedented twelve fight contract awaiting her return Stateside, but surely a license should be issued based on someone’s boxing ability, not according to where they would be fighting for part, or even all, of their career.

However everything became crystal clear shortly after, as Mr Smith then went on to say that he doesn’t approve of Women Boxing (I considered writing everything that he said to me on his thoughts about Women boxing, but I feel it would be way too offensive to ALL Women.)

Marianne appealed to no avail on a number of occasions over the following two years, before successfully applying to another European sanctioning body in August 2011.

Finally overcoming the ridiculous levels of bureaucracy, from both the American Embassy and the British Boxing Board of Control, Marianne was able to fight, or was she.

Well yes and no, because the BBBofC still wouldn’t allow her to fight in the UK on an overseas license, even though various promoters and boxing luminaries had lobbied on her behalf, but this all changed earlier this year, following the German Boxing Association becoming the second European organization, after Luxembourg Boxing Federation, to take advantage of revised European legislation that allows other European sanctioning organisations to sanction events in the UK.

So finally, in April this year Marianne made her long awaited professional debut, against Hungary’s Gabriella Roman.

The following is an extract from my report of the event.

“Soaking up every moment of the occasion Marston finally entered the ring and once again acknowledged the highly vocal and appreciative crowd until the final chord of the emotive ring walk track.

Once referee Ken Curtis had completed his pre fight rule talk it was time for action.

Marston lithely prowled her way across the ring to meet her opponent head on with a massive right hand jab, closely followed with a big left, Roman was clearly stunned by the massive early assault, but still managed to cover up just as a second double handed barrage was thrown, closely followed up with a big left to the head sending the Hungarian girl to the canvas.

Roman recovered sufficiently to box defensively against the ever forward moving Marston, however after about twenty seconds or so Marston corralled the Hungarian in her own corner, with nowhere to go Roman covered up in preparation for yet another double handed assault.

As the seemingly never ending barrage rained down Roman succumbed to the inevitable and went down for a second time.

With barely enough time to catch her breath Roman once again was forced to cover up, as Marston continued to throw massive double handed barrages.

The onslaught proved too much for Roman, who had let her hands drop enough for Marston to land a big right to the head, followed by an equally vicious left to send her reeling against the corner post.

Marston could smell blood and pounced in for the kill, first landing a massive overhand right closely followed by another wicked left hook, which shook Roman to the core.

Then, on the one minute forty seven second mark, just as Marston was about to throw yet another big left to the head of the clearly disoriented Hungarian, referee Ken Curtis jumped in to save the now virtually defenseless Roman from further punishment.

As soon as she realized it was over and she had won, an ecstatic Marston turned towards the legion of fans to her left and made an emotional statement, dedicating her victory to the memory of her mentor Smokin’ Joe Frazier.”

The victory was so emphatic that the following day World Boxing Federation’s South Africa based President Howard Goldberg contacted Marianne’s promoter, Dave Murphy, offering to fast track Marianne for a title shot, which if all goes to plan will take place in London in November, or early next year.

OK, so the scene is set, now it’s time to get on to the interview with the girl tagged ‘The Golden Girl’ by the late, great Smokin’ Joe.

Rio: Do you come from a family Boxing background?

Marianne: Neither of my parents have a boxing background.

I come from quite a sleepy village in Norfolk and attended an all girls school, so
sport wise Fencing (Foil) and swimming were my forte.

I was ranked #6 in the under 16’s in Fencing and competed at swimming for the Norwich Penguins.

Rio: In that case when did you first become interested in boxing and why?

Marianne: The first time I became interested in boxing I was just a kid, I can’t remember what the fight was, it was either a Mike Tyson or a Frank Bruno fight and I wanted to box then.

My mum took me to Norwich Lads Club, I guess the local amateur club and they pointed out it’s a lads club and they wouldn’t let me box.

It wasn’t until many, many years that I started training, just for the fun of it with Choleton Senior, who’d boxed himself, and got bitten by the bug at that point.

Rio: Why did you decide to turn pro?

Marianne: I hadn’t really thought about turning pro, or even competing, until I was at Joe Frazier’s and they wanted to turn me pro quite quickly, I guess it was a combination of age, therefore how much time I would have in the amateurs and I think my style is a little more suited to the pros than the amateurs.

Rio: Who are the main ‘Team Golden Girl’ members?

Marianne: Johnny Eames is my manager and I have to name two people on the training side, I’m training with Brian O’Shaughnessy at the moment but Barry Smith has been a big part of how I box now, especially the power in my punches, so I have to credit him too.

Rio: What’s your training schedule?

Marianne: Tough, I guess I train a couple of hours a day at the gym, all the boxing stuff, Pads work, sparring, heavy bag depending on the day and outside that on a different part of the day do a run, anywhere between three and six miles, sometimes I do sprints, it’s all about the legs.

Rio: What is your favourite part of training?

Marianne: It depends on my mood, but I suppose my favourite would be doing the floor work although I’m really enjoying the technique work on the pads with Brian at the moment, as I’m learning new skills and I always enjoy that.

Rio: Who have you been sparring for your upcoming fight?

Marianne: Ian Napa is my main sparring partner, which is an education, the man’s phenomenal, I know he’s retired but he’s still sharp.

He comes in and psyches me out by doing twelve rounds on the heavy bag when we’re not sparring, he’s as fit and difficult as he’s always been

It really has been exceptional sparring and I really do believe if I can hold my own with him, I can hold my own with anyone.

I’ve also got sparring with Angel McKenzie and Darren Hamilton.

I’ve known Angel and Darren for years, Angel will be fighting Jennifer Retzke on October 4th, I’m so pleased Angel gets to fight here for a World title, instead of always being the away fighter.

What can I say about Darren, British Champion, great boxer and a great guy that is always happy to help out with advice or sparring.

I was also supposed to be sparring amateur Lightweight Kimberley Leah, who I train at the TRAD TKO Gym, but she badly injured her ankle last week.

Kim is seriously good, very technical, as she’s a lot taller than me sparring is always challenging. I’m hoping to turn her pro later this year or early next. She’s so talented, she’ll do very, very well as a pro, I think she’ll go all the way, definitely a future World Champion.

Rio: How would you describe your fight style?

Marianne: I’m a bit of a bully, I don’t back down, you’re going to have to knock me down and keep me down to stop me coming forward basically.

I like to attack, I guess I’m quite aggressive, I’m not playing when I get in the ring, that’s the main thing it’s not a game, it’s serious stuff and I intend to win

Rio: Which has been your favourite fight to date and why?

Marianne: That’s an easy one, I’ve only had the one pro fight.

I fought Gabriella Roman in April on my debut. It didn’t last long at all, I think it was one minute and forty seven seconds of the first round.

I put her down quite early, after that she went very defensive so I kept up the pressure, backed her into my corner and put her down again.

After the count I went straight back on the attack and she was already on her way down again when the referee stopped the fight.

I didn’t even realize he’d stopped the fight I thought she was going to get another count, but when Dave (promoter Dave Murphy) told me that’s it, it’s over and only then it dawned on me I’d won my first fight.

Rio: Who is your all time favourite boxer and why?

Marianne: It’s Joe Frazier followed by Manny Pacquiao.

Why? Joe Frazier, he always goes forward, he was the little guy in the ring, because as a heavyweight he was a small heavyweight.

I just loved the way he just came forward, the pressure, the movement, so hard to hit, so powerful on the attack.

As an attacking fighter myself I enjoy that and enjoy watching that. I think he has the same thing that I have, you have to put him down and keep him down to stop him.

Manny Pacquiao, he’s a southpaw like me, as a southpaw you should always watch the best southpaw boxers in the world and Manny Pacquiao is definitely that guy.

I love watching his technique, the way he moves in and out, to me that’s a skill I aspire to.

I’d also like to include Keith Thurman to my list, he’s one of my favourite rising star fighters of the moment, he’s a phenomenal fighter, serious power.

I like big punchers, I’m not talking two guys just punching each other but have serious skill as well.

Rio: Keeping in the same vein, all time favourite fight you have watched?

Marianne: It’s between three fights, two were Joe Frazier versus Mohammed Ali, the one Joe won and the other is the one he won but didn’t, because his corner made him stop not knowing that Ali wasn’t going to come out anyway.

The other was Steve Cunningham versus Marco Huck, Steve Cunningham is a force to behold, it was beautiful, I love that kind of boxing, I really do.

It was all out attack, a lot of people watch fights and they say they are just bashing each other up and ok they do sometimes, but this was different this was skill even though all out attack, it was phenomenal.

Rio: Which current match-up would you like to see happen this season?

Marianne: Well one of my favourite boxers is Steve Cunningham, obviously I have a real soft spot for Steve, he worked with me when I was in Philadelphia, the man is phenomenal, it really is something special to see him in training or fighting.

Of course there is one fighter that avoided him at Cruiserweight, moved up to Heavyweight to get away from him, so I think that now Steve has gone up to Heavyweight they should meet.

There’s nowhere to run now Mr. Haye.

Rio: What’s your fight day routine?

Marianne: Very, very quiet. I have very small meals up until the weigh-in.

Generally just keeping my head clear, keeping myself relaxed.

Then Steak and chips straight after the weigh-in, well you need plenty of protein for the fight.

Rio: That takes us right into the next question, what is your entrance track?

Marianne: For the last fight it was Move by Thousand Foot Crutch.

I first heard this when I was part of Steve Cunningham’s team training at Shuler’s Gym in Philadelphia, Steve had a promo video made for the first fight against Tomasz Adamek and Move was the soundtrack.

It really fires me up every time I hear it, so it really is the perfect entrance track for me.

I quite like the track that goes ‘I got 99 problems but the bitch ain’t one’ which kind off sums up many things for me, but I’d probably stick with Move as I am reluctant to change things, I’m stupidly superstitious like most sportspeople.

Rio: What are your ambitions as a boxer?

Marianne: Well it would be nice to win a title, but other than that I would like to be remembered as someone who had good skills, a proper boxer not someone that just coasted.

Rio: Outside boxing, what is your favourite sport?

Marianne: Football, is the sport I enjoy watching the most, closely followed by Ice Hockey.

I’m a huge Arsenal fan, I never used to even watch football until I moved to Highbury a few years ago, Arsenal won the league and the victory procession went right past my home, so I went out to watch them pass by, don’t know why but it made me want to go and watch them play one day.

I watched their first game of the new season and was hooked, after watching Thierry Henry play for the first time.

Before I went to America I used to regularly go to Highbury and watch them play and later at the Emirates, but since I’ve been back haven’t really had the chance to go and watch them, mainly because I run a female only boxing class at the TRAD TKO at three o’clock every Saturday.

When I was in America I became hooked on Ice Hockey, especially the Philly Flyers, who I’d go and watch at every opportunity.

You have to admire a sport where you’re allowed to beat the crap out of the opposition.

For me to partake in, it’s shooting or fencing, as I’m pretty good at both.

Rio: How do you relax outside boxing?

Marianne: I read, I cook and I walk my cat.

I love reading, just not enough time to read enough to satisfy my insatiable appetite.

Cooking’s my passion, if I wasn’t hitting stuff I would probably be whipping, beating, mixing, stirring and baking.

The cat likes to attack foxes, one of these days he’s going to run into a fox that is too big to handle, so I take him for walks on a lead in the evening, he’s a bit like me, he doesn’t know when to back down.

Rio: Favourite book?

Marianne: My favourite author is Terry Pratchett, he is for me the perfect writer, I have a whole host of second favourites, which I couldn’t begin to name.

I love reading and will read almost anything, as long as it’s not romance.

At the moment I’m reading James Lee Burke, it’s really annoying he’s written twenty odd books and I’m desperate to read them all, but I’m reading them out of order, which is driving me nuts as I have to rely on the library.

Rio: Favourite music?

Marianne: Heavy, Heavy Rock, Heavy Metal, just heavy, heavy, heavy, by bands like Hed Pe, Earth Crisis, Soulfly, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Sepultura type heavy

Rio: Favourite film or TV show?

Marianne: I watch films and TV but there’s nothing that stands out.

Rio: Finally is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Marianne: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Marianne Marston, against Masa Bacanov, will feature on the Dave Murphy Acourtier Events promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ event, headlined by Michel Trabant vs TBA and Jennifer Retzke versus Angel McKenzie World title clashes, at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Friday, 4th October 2013

Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com – www.mariannemarston.com – www.acourtier.com – or in person from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning town – www.tkoboxinggym.com – and Ringtone Gym in Euston – www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com – or from any of the boxers taking part in the event, or call – 07960 850645, 07809 499896 or 07557 641597 for further information.

Go online to www.Acourtier.com for additional information on the NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS event or the Acourtier stable of boxers. Follow Acourtier Events on Twitter @AcourtierEvents – friend us at www.Facebook.com/AcourtierEvents
- and on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/acourtier-events

Follow Marianne ‘ Golden Girl’ Marston, for updates and schedule go to: Web: www.mariannemarston.com – Twitter: @MarianneMarston and Facebook: www.facebook.com/marianne.marston

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Up Close And Personal With Returning Champ Mark Prince

by on Sep.04, 2013, under Interviews

MarkPrince2780WEBREADYUp Close And Personal With Returning Champ Mark Prince
Photos and Interview by Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

A few weeks ago it was announced that former WBO and IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Champion, and World title challenger, Mark Prince is set to make his return to competitive action, on the Dave Murphy Acourtier Events promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ at York Hall, in London, on Friday 4th October.

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to catch up with the man known simply as ‘The Prince’, but before we get the interview I think a bit of scene setting would be in order, for those that have not had the pleasure of seeing Mark in action the first time around, with an abridged version of Mark’s excellent career.

On the 4th April 1993, Mark made short work of his first pro opponent, Birmingham’s Bobby Mack, by stopping him in the second round, early baths followed for both his next pair of opponents, John Kaighin and Art Stacey, Kaighin only made it to the third and Mark knocked out Stacey in the second.

His fourth opponent, Simon McDougall, did manage to go the distance but it was to be eight bouts later until the next opponent, American Lenzie Morgan, went the distance with ‘The Prince’.

Newcastle’s John Pierre also went the distance in Mark’s next fight, but after that it was almost two years before any opponent made it to the final bell.

Manchester’s Maurice ‘Hard’ Core lasted seven rounds, Leeds based Welshman Michael Gale lasted six rounds before Mark hit the Championship trail.

On the 11th September 1997 Mark faced American Bruce Rumbolz, for the WBO Inter-Continental title. Once again Mark made short work of things, stopping Rumbolz after just one minute and fifty one seconds of the third round.

In December Mark made his first defense, against Chicago’s USA’s Wayne Hankins, of his newly acquired title, Hankin’s faired only slightly better than Rumbolz, well lasted forty two seconds longer.

Mark then faced seriously tough American Kenny Whack, for the IBF Inter-Continental title. After twelve hard fought rounds ‘The Prince’ added the prestigious IBF belt to his collection.

On the 19th September 1998 Mark challenged long time WBO World Light Heavyweight King Dariusz Michalczewski. at the Arena Oberhausen in Germany, for his crown.

It was a cracking very close all action bout, that was until with just ten seconds to go in the eighth round Michalczewski landed a short sharp left hook to send Mark crashing to the canvas.

Two months later Mark returned to action, against Kevin Mitchell – no not Dagenham’s ‘Mighty’ Kevin Mitchell, but the Greenwich Cruiserweight – who Mark summarily dispatched in just forty three seconds of the first round.

Mark retired from the sport shortly after with a 19 win (15 by way of KO) and just the single loss.

Post boxing Mark dedicated himself to helping disadvantaged youngsters, by coaching and mentoring them

Then just a few short years later Mark’s life changed dramatically, following the murder of his son Kiyan, a prodigious young footballer who played for Queens Park Rangers.

This personal tragedy spurred Mark to create the Kiyan Prince Foundation, www.kiyan.org – a not-for-profit organization that is committed to creating a legacy for Kiyan, by the combating of knife crime and other forms of youth violence.

Since creating the Kiyan Prince Foundation Mark has further dedicated his life to educating youngsters and campaigning for legislation on the carrying of knives. Mark was instrumental, along with then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, in the lobbying for knife crime to be introduced into the Violent Crime Reduction act that went before Parliament and received Royal assent in November 2006.

On Monday I caught up with Mark at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, where he was one of various well known boxers that were being interviewed, by BT Sport – www.btsport.com – for a special feature that will be aired this evening, Wednesday 4th September.

Rio: So Mark, you’re making a comeback on October 4th, why now?

Mark: Yeah I make my comeback on October 4th.

Basically life’s been a fight, so I figured that why not fight in the ring again.

I’m fighting everyday, after my son was killed, mentally, emotionally.

I’m fighting to help other parents’ kids to recognize that putting knives and guns down is the way forward, so that they can be setting up a future for themselves and myself for the pain I feel.

I’m fighting for a different cause, before when I was fighting it was about taking me from a kid that was going nowhere, I was on the streets, hustling, doing criminal activities to make money and it’s taken me from there to box to raise my game and become somebody.

Now my focus and purpose is different, the focus and the purpose is about inspiration, firstly to inspire myself to know that from this terrible incident that something great can come from it.

You can dig deep, build something strong and positive, while you’re doing that other people can be impacted by that and it will affect the community in a positive way.

I’m hoping that me coming back is going to affect my community, and show young people that this kid from the streets made himself into a world class fighter and after the tragedy happened that I can come straight back again, with determination, focus, sacrifice and continue my journey.

Rio: A lot of people reading this may not know what had happened to your son, so please tell us more and about the charity you set up.

Mark: On the 18th May 2006 my son Kiyan Prince, who was fifteen years old, was a top striker in the youth team for Queens Park Rangers and he was destined for great things, they had plans to put him into the first team and he was doing so well, great potential and he was stabbed outside his school trying to stop a fight, he went over to break it up and the boy pulled a knife out and stabbed him in the heart.

Since then there’s been a huge amount of media attention around it, because my son was a top striker and obviously I’ve been a world class fighter and I’ve continued to help the young people on the streets.

It’s taken a while, working doing the campaign to put the guns and knives down, working with the newspapers and many other things, it’s not stopped I’ve continued doing things since then to create a legacy for my son and to provide young people the opportunities, inspire them and educate them that this isn’t the way forward.

Young people are made for great purpose and they just need to be able to see that and build their self-esteem, that’s what’s happening with the Kiyan Prince foundation.

Rio: I know that was painful for you and appreciate you speaking about it with me. Now to the boxing, British Champion, Inter-Continental Champion and World title challenger, you had a great career the first time around.

Mark: Yeah IBF and WBO Inter-Continental Champion, former #1 in Britain, former #1 WBO and mandatory challenger for the title.

I fought a guy called Dariusz Michalczewski, my only loss on a twenty fight record, 15 knockouts, I was 18-0 at the time and he was 38-0 at the time, the odds were against me and nobody thought I could win, I put up a great fight, showed the warrior in me and went out with my shield.

Rio: Your return, it’s not just about coming back for the odd fight, I understand you’re coming back looking for Championship honours, is that right?

Mark: Yeah, I’m coming back looking for Championships, that’s who I am, I’m a warrior at the highest level, the worse thing that can happen is that I lose, no big deal I’ve lost a lot more than a fight in my life, this is nothing to me, this is the easy part of my life.

The first time I boxed, I thought boxing was the toughest thing anyone could go through, obviously I’ve learned differently and now it’s a pleasure to put the gloves back on and train hard.

My motto is ‘It’s only pain’, so what the hell it’s served me well and I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people, I’m in wonderful condition and the power never goes anywhere, fifteen guys of the nineteen wins never saw the end of the bout so whoever is in my category is in a lot of trouble.

Rio: I understand you’re coming back at Cruiserweight?

Mark: Yeah, I spent too much time struggling with weight last time, that contributed, although I’m not taking anything away from the guy that beat me, but it contributed in my condition on the night.

I would never advise any boxer to struggle to make weight, just to fight comfortable is right, don’t kill yourself, go in comfortable as it’s good for your health and less blood clots on the brain and other damage.

Rio: That’s a valid point as not a lot of people realize the damage making weight has on the body and more importantly the loss of fluids that protect the brain.

Mark: There’s no way you can rehydrate in time, it’s about understanding the game, understanding what you need to do to safeguard yourself and coming in at a weight you can manage and that’s comfortable for you to lessen the degree of damage that can happen.

You need the fluid around the brain, you need the fluid in your body and the last thing you need to do is dry yourself out, because that’s your defense mechanism in the fight.

You lose a number of pounds in the fight, so if you’ve already drained yourself of fluid you suddenly find yourself in problems.

There’s been calls for rehydration fluids to be used, but the BBBofC and others in control will not allow it.

It’s not that you’ll become a superman and the next round you’ll be amazing, it’s the rehydration could help, whatever help the fighters can get to improve that part of their safety, not boxing but the chances of any damage being greatly reduced and I think that this should be put in place.

Rio: I couldn’t agree more – my next question is sparring, who have you been sparring?

Mark: Yeah, most of the sparring I called for myself, including Nathan Cleverly early this year, Don Charles had been nice enough to ask him for me.

It was wonderful, I have great respect for Nathan Cleverly, he’s a great individual, he was nice enough to let me come in and spar with him and it was good.

I needed to know what I had left and I hadn’t had any real competitive sparring for over ten years, but if I have anything then I can prove it at the time or would Nathan Cleverly totally outclass me, I needed to know if I could compete still compete at anywhere around that level and what I had left.

The sparring allowed to see where I was and I was really pleased, obviously I didn’t dominate or anything, let’s be realistic this guy’s been fighting all the time, I haven’t been at world level for a while so I wasn’t going to do Nathan any damage, but what I did find out is that I can see punches, slip, move nicely.

Nathan told me how he found it in there with me, he said to me himself ‘my friend you could go back in at Cruiser and do a lot of damage, so I think you should go back and make a come back’. We filmed it, I think you can find that on You Tube, so that’s there.

From there I went on to help Wadi Camacho, who was mixing with Don Charles and some of the guys in his camp, worked with Frank Buglioni, here at the TRAD TKO gym, wonderful young prospect and a really nice guy is Frank, I really wish him all the best.

I think all this kind of work has only helped for me to understand where I am in the game, show me how much knowledge I do have and how sharp I still am, so all I’ve done is improve over the past nine months.

Every single time I spar, whenever I go in I help Wadi, I helped him prepare for his Prizefighter, I personally would like to think that I was partially responsible for his success, he has said so himself that I was responsible by helping him to prepare and win Prizefighter, he’s the one fighting but it’s really important who you working with, to prepare for that fight

The quality he got from me was top class, I say that without trying to blow my own trumpet, Wadi got quality sparring and everyone could see it on the day, his family could see his improvement.

I’m intelligent about the work I am doing and it’s about the things I am doing, how much sparring I’m doing, how much running, so I think I’m a different man, obviously because of what I’ve been through.

All the time I’ve been out I’ve always focused on being fit, I’ve never lived bad, I’ve trained, I use my training skills to help young people, from 2002, before my son was killed I was into youth work, I was using my boxing to help motivate kids, to do boxing classes and training them up with fitness.

I was always working and was sharp, I just wasn’t at world class boxing level, that’s all, but my body was always in good nick.

Rio: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Mark: Don’t forget it’s at York Hall on October 4th, so let’s ram out the place for the return of the Prince.

Watch this space, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@markno1prince) for more news.

Mark Prince, against a yet to be named opponent, with feature on the undercard of the double World Title headed Dave Murphy’s Acourtier Events, promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ event, which takes place at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, on Friday 4th October 2013.

Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com – www.mariannemarston.com – www.acourtier.com – or in person from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning town – www.tkoboxinggym.com – and Ringtone Gym in Euston – www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com – or from any of the boxers taking part in the event, or call – 07960 850645, 07809 499896 or 07557 641597 for further information.

Go online to www.Acourtier.com for additional information on the NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS event or the Acourtier stable of boxers. Follow Acourtier Events on Twitter @AcourtierEvents – friend us at Facebook.com/AcourtierEvents – and on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/acourtier-events

For further information on the Kiyan Prince Foundation please go to www.kiyan.org

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Tom Little Interview – Discusses Tom Dallas, Luke Martin, Graham Earl and more.

by on May.20, 2013, under Interviews

TomLittle1355WEBREADYTom Little Interview – Discusses Tom Dallas, Luke Martin, Graham Earl and more.

Interview and photos by Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

I’m sure that anyone that watched Prizefighter – International Heavyweights – back in June 2012, will remember 25 year old Tom Little from Hatfield, Hertfordshire, not because he won or anything like that, but for the surprising way he exited the competition in the quarter-final against Tom Dallas.

I say surprising as Tom seemed to be cruising to victory, but after two sensation rounds dominated by the Hatfield man he ran out of steam mid-third round.

Doghouse Boxing’s Iain Dolan, who was ringside on the night, wrote in his report:

“Fight of the night was the 4th quarter final between Hatfield’s Tom Little (18st 3lbs) and Tom Dallas. The flabby Little, in only his 4th paid bout showed surprising hand speed and a big heart as he threw the kitchen sink at Dallas from the off.

Finding success with jabs and hooks both upstairs and down, Little looked to be on course for an unlikely victory as Dallas neglected defense in order to meet fire with fire.

Little started the 2nd round with similar ambition but, from quite early on, was looking up at the big screen to see how long was left in the round. Little continued to throw leather and give Dallas problems although he was clearly gassed by the end of the round.

In the 3rd it all fell apart for Little as he had just completely run out of steam. Dallas landed some good shots but it was 90% exhaustion that caused Little to crash to the canvas.

He managed to get to his feet but could barely stand so the fight was waved off.

If Little can find the discipline to spend more time in the gym and less time in KFC, he has plenty offer on the domestic heavyweight scene.”

That final comment may just have been the catalyst for the ‘rebuilding’ of Tom Little that has been taking place at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town over the past couple of months.

That may sound a little dramatic, but believe me I have seen the transformation, both physical and mental, that has taken place.

I first met Tom when he was preparing for his pro debut, against Rolandas Cesna in July 2011. I was invited by Graham Earl to come to Luton to interview his fighters that were to take part in an event promoted by him at the Liquid Night Club in Luton.

To describe the difference between the Tom I met then and the one I spoke with earlier today is unreal. Back then Tom was yet another flabby heavyweight.

He’s biggest selling point was his hand speed, ridiculously fast for a Light Heavy, let alone a Heavyweight, but his stamina was very, very poor, he was running out of steam after just a couple of rounds on the heavy bag.

Today Tom is almost a lean, mean fighting machine. Whilst yes he is still carrying a bit of excess weight, he really is beginning to look much more ‘fighty’

TomLittle1339WEBREADYI watched as Barry Smith put him through the paces, six rounds on the heavy bag, followed by another six on the pads – oh and I don’t mean pitter-pattering I mean full on ‘fight level’ stuff.

The change is so extreme that I for one am looking forward to watching him in action, at Johnny Eames’ TKO Events promoted ‘Two Tribes’ event at York Hall in London on Saturday June 1st.

If he performs at the level he did in the training sessions Tom Little may just be the breath of fresh air the Heavyweight division needs to ignite the fans interest once more.

As I said before I was amazed at his extraordinary hand speed, as well as the ease he is able to open up his opposition with both hands, so am sure he will become a serious crowd pleaser.

OK, enough of my praising the youngster, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Following the grueling regime Barry Smith, young Tom took some time out to talk about his career to date, his disappointing loss to Tom Dallas and of course the transformation since his move to the TRAD TKO.

Rio: So you’re fighting Luke Martin at York Hall on the 1st June, what do you know about Luke and how do you see the fight going?

Tom: Luke Martin, well I don’t know a thing about him, don’t care all I know is I’m going to flatten him.

Training’s been really good, the sharpness is there and everything is coming together just right.

I’ve got a week of sparring to go, I’m really looking forward to that, then I’m ready to go, so Luke Martin watch out.

Rio: This will be your fifth professional outing, how has your pro career been to date?

Tom: I’ve had four fights, this will be my fifth, won three of them and my only loss was against Tom Dallas in Prizefighter.

I’m not going to make excuses, anyone that see it see that knows I didn’t get beat by the better man.

I was in a very bad place in my life at that time, I shouldn’t have been in a boxing ring, to be quite honest with you I shouldn’t have been around people full stop, I should have been locked away, because of the things going on in my head at the time.

TomLittleBarrySmith1354WEBREADYThat’s all behind me now though, I’m moving forward and I’ve got a good team behind me at last, in manager Johnny Eames and trainer Barry Smith as well as having a great camp at the TRAD TKO gym in Canning Town.

Rio: So you were lucky to get the three wins you have then?

I’ve been lucky, I fought the very capable Hastings Rasani in my second fight, funnily enough I was up here two days before my fight, Graham got Barry to give me some pads and he blew me out in two rounds, so you can tell what sort of fitness I was at.

It’s all changed now though, I’ve been at the TRAD TKO about fifteen weeks now, come down from about twenty stone and now weigh seventeen stone five. I’ve never boxed below eighteen stone before, ever.

For Prizefighter I only ever done roadwork and bag work and no other training for two weeks, so I’m confident now that I’m getting into good condition.

Rio: So you’re now in a ‘Good Place’ mentally and physically, so what can the fans expect to see of Tom Little in the future.

Tom: I know that people spout their mouth and say whatever, but I know there’s not a heavyweight in Britain that I can’t beat when I’m fit and believe me I am going to be in the condition of my life thanks to Barry.

This is literally a new start for me and I’m real pleased that Johnny and Barry have given me the opportunity to have this new start.

That loss to Dallas, a lot of people wouldn’t have given me a second chance, thankfully Johnny see something he liked and was happy to work with me.

TomLittle1347WEBREADYBarry’s always liked the way that fight and he’d seen the things that needed changing. Everyone’s been working together and I’m confident that we really are going to shock everyone when they see me in action on June 1st.

Rio: Changing tack slightly, could you tell the readers a little about your early amateur career please?

Tom: I was amateur from the age of twelve, up to seventeen. I had twenty two fights won eighteen of them, done real well as an amateur.

The last time I boxed as an amateur was as a Middleweight, then I went away and done my own thing.

Rio: So you walked away from boxing whilst an amateur, what changed for you to come back straight in and campaign in the pro ranks?

Tom: Funnily enough I went back into the gym to help me give up smoking and met Graham Earl.

Graham then offered me the chance to turnover, it all happened really fast, I got my head down, had three fights, which I won, under Graham Earl whilst I was training out of Luton.

Never did feel myself that I was fit, always felt there was something missing, someone was missing something out of the camp.

It really did open my eyes up when I went in Prizefighter under short notice and was literally left to train myself.

My current trainer Barry was there on the night, he noticed but obviously couldn’t say anything because I wasn’t his fighter at the time.

It really showed, I went in against someone I wasn’t expected to get anywhere with and gave him the hiding of his life for two rounds, but in doing this literally collapsed with exhaustion.

This really opened my eyes, so I went away to think things over. I then left my manager, left everything and come up to the TRAD TKO, where I was welcomed with open arms.

Rio: Has this change of management and coaching made that much of a difference then?

Tom: Barry Smith has really turned things around for me, before I couldn’t do two rounds in sparring for any of my other fights because I just didn’t have it in the tank, now I can spar up to ten rounds.

It makes so much difference being here, I’ve always got a coach, everyone puts in the best work to help, but the biggest thing is there is always sparring here, not just sparring but quality sparring against great opposition.

There’s a couple of good heavyweights up here, plus fighter friends of the gym. I had some sparring with Dereck Chisora and that, so the TRAD TKO has done a lot for me, in the short time since I’ve been up here, I’m very grateful to them.

Rio: I know you are focused on the fight with Luke Martin right now, but after that is there any fight you really want Johnny to make happen for you?

Tom: I’m really eager to get the rematch against Tom Dallas, I want to prove to everyone that the better man didn’t win on the night.

If he wants to hide behind his manager so be it, they say he doesn’t want it yet, but he can’t hide for ever and I’ll be there in his way wherever he wants to get to.

This will be my first fight under the TRAD TKO banner and I know that it’s the start of bigger things for me, including hopefully the rematch with Tom Dallas, I’ll go to Kent and drag him out if I have to.

Rio: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today, finally is there anything you would like to say to the fans out there?

Tom: To all the fans out there, come to York Hall on the 1st June and see the real me, see what they were missing out on before because I didn’t have proper training before, they’ll see what I can do now that I have a serious people behind me and I’m in a good place.

Tom Little, against Luke Martin, is a supporting bout on the Colin Lynes versus Beka Sutidze headlines the BBBofC sanctioned Johnny Eames promoted ‘Two Tribes Go To War’ event at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Saturday 1st June 2013.

Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on line at www.tkoboxoffice.com or in person at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town or direct from Tom Little or any of the fighters taking part.

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Iain Weaver Interview: Talks Pro Debut, Luke Campbell, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Vasyl Lomachenko etc.

by on Apr.23, 2013, under Interviews

IainWeaver1000WEBREADYIain Weaver Interview: Talks Pro Debut, Luke Campbell, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Vasyl Lomachenko etc.

By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

This coming Saturday one of the UK’s top amateur stars, European Silver and Commonwealth Boxing Championships Gold medalist, Iain Weaver makes his long awaited professional debut at York Hall in London.

Back in July last year Iain was on the verge of hitting the big time, pro boxing wise, promoter Eddie Hearn had convinced him to sign with his Matchroom Sport concern with the promise of debuting on his September Alexandra Palace mega event, headlined by Darren Barker’s return.

However this failed to materialize, due to the British Boxing Board of Control refusing to license him after his brain scan highlighted a cyst.

Various appeals followed after independent neurosurgeons cleared him as fit to box, as the cyst was genetic, had been there all his life and presented virtually no danger to his health.

One of the neurosurgeons even stated, that during his career he had only seen one similar type of cyst bleed, and that was due to the person received major trauma after being involved in a serious road accident.

Even though Iain had enjoyed ‘elite’ status as an Amateur, fought 115 times and represented his country at the highest level with the cyst, as well as having various top neurosurgeons clear him, the BBBofC still refused to license him.

Earlier this year Iain successfully applied for a Spanish license, however as soon as it was announced, that he would be fighting in London on the 27th, the BBBofC successfully lobbied the European Boxing Union to assist in persuading the Spanish Federation to revoke the license.

Never one to give up, Iain successfully applied to a different European sanctioning organization for a professional license and finally makes his professional debut at York Hall in London this coming Saturday.

I met up with Iain at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town as he finalized his preparations for his long awaited pro debut.

Initially I had asked Iain about the ongoing saga, it had only been a few days earlier that he had been informed that he has been successful in his latest license application, but it was clear that the 23 year old from Ferndale in Dorset felt uncomfortable discussing the whole sorry affair, much preferring to talk boxing in general.

Rio: Finally you get to pro debut this Saturday at York Hall, it’s been a bit of a drama getting here but now you are, so how do you feel with your first fight being just a few days away?

Iain: Yeah, I think it’s great, I can’t wait to get into the ring.

It’s been a long time coming, the 27th can’t come quick enough though.

Rio: You’ve had a great amateur career, what would you say are the highlights of your career?

Iain: I think the highlights were really the European Silver medal and the Commonwealth Games, I won the Commonwealth Youth Games and the Commonwealth Seniors, that was a great experience for me.

It was really special to be a part of them and you know traveling the World with all the other GB lads was a great four years of my life.

Rio: The transition from Amateur to Pro is not always an easy move, how have you coped with the different areas in making the move?

Iain: To be honest, I’ve always had a bit of a pro style anyway.

I’ve always suited the pros better, I always started slow in the amateurs and tended to lose the first round and got stronger as the fight goes on. I think doing more rounds will suit me better.

I’m really looking forward to my debut as I feel I should have been fighting pro much earlier. If I hadn’t been on the Olympic squad and had a chance of going to London 2012 I probably would have switched earlier.

Rio: Since you bought up the Olympics, your nemesis Luke Campbell is turning pro with Matchroom Sport, so in the near future we could have ‘Groves-DeGale’ type of showdown between you two again, this time on the pro circuit.

Iain: Definitely, he suited the amateurs, he was hard to beat, he was a good kid for the weight, three threes suited him, but the pros are a different ball game and I think it’ll suit me more than it’ll suit him.

Rio: I’m going to stick with the amateurs – in your opinion who has been the standout amateur boxer, past or present?

Iain: To be honest it’s either (Guillermo) Rigondeaux from Cuba or Lomanchenko from the Ukraine.

I’ve been in tournaments with Vasyl Lomachenko and I’ve seen him first hand and he is a very special talent.

After watching Rigondeaux the other weekend and watching videos of him in the amateurs, I’ve got to say he’s probably one of the best amateurs ever as well as a World class pro.

He’s a southpaw and he’s quick, I watch him and try and get tips so I can do things that he does.

Rio: I Know Rigondeaux is already in the pros and a unified World Champion, but that aside who are your favourite pro boxers?

Iain: Yeah, but Rigondeaux’s got to be right up there, but when I first started making my move to the pros my coach said I reminded him of Pernell Whitaker.

I didn’t really know too much about him, didn’t know who he was, so I looked him up on YouTube and that’s the style I like, the style I like to fight at.

Yeah, Pernell Whitaker is probably my favourite one.

Oh and I was born on the same day as Muhammad Ali, so he’s one of my favourites also.

Rio: Thank you for taking some time out from your preparations to talk with me and good luck on the 27th, although I’m sure you don’t need it.

Iain: No problem, I’d like to say to your readers, it’s going to be a great show, there’s even a big title fight headlining. It’s not on TV, so the only way to see this is get down to York Hall on Saturday.

Iain Weaver will be making his debut, against a yet to be named opponent, on the undercard of the Oisin Fagan versus Chris Goodwin WBF Inter-Continental Lightweight title clash, that headlines Dave Murphy’s Thunderdrome Promotions ‘Thunder & Lightning’ event at York Hall, Bethnal Green in London on the 27th April 2013.

Tickets, priced £65 (Ringside), £35 (Floor) and £30 (Balcony) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com or in person from Iain himself or alternatively at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, London E16 4SA – www.tkoboxinggym.com – or the Ringtone Gym in Euston, London NW1 2PB – www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com – Tel: 07960 850645 or 07557 641597 for further information.

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HOT TALENT JOE MURRAY READY TO SHINE AT WEMBLEY ARENA

by on Apr.16, 2013, under Interviews

JoeMurrayHOT TALENT JOE MURRAY READY TO SHINE AT WEMBLEY ARENA

One-time world amateur medallist Joe Murray has endured a frustrating time since vaulting to the paid code in March 2009.

The 2008 Beijing Olympian has been restricted to just a dozen wins (five early) and is yet to debut at meaningful championship level.

But the 26 year old they call ‘Genius’ is hopeful of kickstarting his career after signing a promotional deal with Frank Warren last month.

After 14 months on the sidelines, the Arnie Farnell trained super-featherweight returns to the prize ring at Wembley Arena on April 20th and, after shedding some rust, shall be anxious to force his way into title contention.

Murray features on the undercard of an action-packed triple-title card headlined by WBO World Light-Heavyweight Champion Nathan Cleverly, plus WBO European Lightweight Champion Liam Walsh and Commonwealth Super-Flyweight title challenger Paul Butler, all live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).

Name: Joe Murray

Weight: Featherweight

Age: 26

Family background: I’m the third of four brothers. Apparently our Grandad boxed and obviously our John did too. (Former British, Commonwealth and European lightweight champion John challenged Brandon Rios for the WBA lightweight title in December 2011).

Another older brother Stephen had about four amateur bouts but was far more interested in chasing girls. My youngest brother is only seven so it’s too early to see if he’ll take to it.

These days I live on a farm a fraction of a mile over the Welsh border, by Wrexham, with my girlfriend and little boy Hugo, who’s four months. It’s great, we get free prescriptions (in Wales)!

Trade: Farming. I buy and sell horses.

Nickname: ‘Genius’. They had a competition in the Manchester Evening News to find me one.

What age did you become interested in boxing and why? We’d always watched the Rocky films and the wrestling. I’d always had ‘toy fights’ with my older brothers. But it really started when me mum started going to boxercise classes at Bob Shannon’s gym in Openshaw. She’s pretty tough, our mum. Still tells us what to do!

To keep us off the streets, she took us up to Bob’s amateur club, Shannon’s ABC. I’d have been about 13, our John 15.

What do you recall of your amateur career? After a year at Shannon’s, I moved to Ardwick Lads and, a year after, I went to the Northside gym. Then we spent a couple of years at Boarshaw. Basically, I followed (coach) Joe Gallagher around.

All told, I won 95 of 110 amateur bouts. Being really small, I didn’t get many bouts to start with. But I won the national schoolboys and junior ABAs. In the senior ABAs I never got past the north-west regional round. In 2006, (eventual champion) Nick McDonald from Liverpool outpointed me at bantamweight and the following year Kallum De’ath from Northside also beat me on points.

I must have boxed for England about 80 times and I only lost ten. I won the Junior Olympics in Louisiana when I was just 15 and I also won the Four Nations as a junior.

From the age of 18, I trained with Team GB at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and went straight onto the Podium squad. I stayed for three years until I turned pro. It was good but I didn’t enjoy being away from home and sometimes they treated you like a little kid. They always found something for you to do so you had very little free time.

I won loads of multi-nations medals, including a silver at the European Unions and a bronze at The 2007 World Seniors in Chicago, which qualified me for the Beijing Olympics. That was definitely my (amateur) highlight.

The opening ceremony was something else. I’d already beaten three of the eventual four medallists at Beijing but, like Frankie Gavin, I’d qualified about nine months earlier and was really struggling to hold the weight. My focus was solely on making weight rather than boxing training and I lost in my first fight to a Chinese kid I’d previously beaten at the worlds the year before.

There’s this huge misconception that there’s a huge party among the athletes inside the Olympic village but it weren’t like that for me. As soon as I lost, I was flown home with Billy Joe (Saunders).

I stayed on (amateur) for the 2008 Europeans in Liverpool at featherweight but lost in the first series to David Oliver Joyce of Ireland. I felt that was a bad decision. Previously, at the 2006 European Seniors in Bulgaria, I’d got to the quarter-finals

Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I’d done everything I wanted as an amateur. I’d been the Olympics, the World Seniors and two European Seniors so would just be repeating what I’d already done. Perhaps I’d have got better medals but I had enough already.

Tell us about your back up team: Initially I was promoted by the Hattons but last month I joined Frank Warren. I’m managed by Mike Marsden and, after a long time with Joe Gallagher, I’ll now be coached by Anthony Farnell.

‘Arnie’ (Farnell) and me are just starting to gel and I’m buzzing. Paul Butler, Matty Hall, Ronnie Heffron plus a few good young pros are also at his gym in Failsworth and we all push each other on. ‘Arnie’ gives us individual slots so he’s always looking over us.

(Expert nutritionist/conditioner) Kerry Kayes has always been around my career and I know I can ring him any time I need for advice.

What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I’m never really out of the gym but ideally I like six weeks notice before a fight so I can get my weight ‘spot on’.

When I’ve a date, I’ll train Monday to Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do my sprints at the track and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I’ll run six miles. I take a longer run on a Sunday morning.

I normally arrive at Arnie’s gym for noon but there’s no set routine. We have sparring days, bar-bag days, body bag days…Other times we’ll focus on developing different techniques on the pads or do circuits. You never really know what’s coming.

Like most boxers, I most enjoy sparring. It’s the closest to actual boxing. I still spar our John quite a lot and I did quite a bit with (welterweight) Mark Thompson for his recent Prizefighter. At Joe Gallagher’s, I did loads with Stephen and Liam Smith, Scott Cardle, Anthony Crolla… I’ll spar anyone.

I least enjoy running, especially at the track. It’s just really hard work. At the start of a camp, we’ll do four- one kilometre runs and we’ll try to get under three minutes for each. Closer to the fight, we do six 800 metres, then drop it to ten 400 metres and finally fast sprints.

Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m very clever at working people out. I’ve fast hands, fast feet but can also fight inside. The left hook-right hand is probably my favourite combo.

What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? You need to keep all your tools permanently sharp. I continually go back to the basics and re-learn what I thought I’d mastered early in my career. Beware bad habits!

What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? I boxed four-two minute rounds in the amateurs and you seldom found out the opponent’s true (physical) strength. You could steal fights by getting a few points up in the first two rounds then basically running away.

Winning the early rounds of a 12 round professional championship is no guarantee you’ll win the fight.

That said, you don’t always need to hold your feet to be successful as a pro. Floyd Mayweather has a great amateur style, still and he’s doing okay. Ditto Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. They all retained great foot movement.

Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? My brother (John). He’s very underestimated. Everybody talks about his toughness but he’s also very calm, clever and cunning. He knows when to rest, when to work. He can always sense when you’re tired, then jumps on you.

All time favourite fighter: Arturo Gatti. He had the heart of a warrior and always brought entertainment.

All time favourite fight: Barrera-Morales I. Non stop war. Neither wanted to get beat.

Which current match would you most like to see made? I’d still like to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. That fight should definitely have been made a good few years ago. On his game, Pacman could still give Floyd problems with his southpaw style, fast hands and feet. But Mayweather would win. He figures ‘em all out really fast and always makes it look so easy.

What is your routine on fight day? I just try to stay really relaxed because nerves burn your energy. I’ll be up quite late and have brekkie about 11ish. Throughout the day I’ll take in a lot of water to re-hydrate after the weigh-in. I’ll mainly just watch films and have a laugh with me mates. I’ll have a light sandwich around 5pm but like to fight on a relatively empty stomach. That makes me feel sharper.

In the changing rooms, I lark about with the others to stay relaxed. Fight day is what you do the sport for. I’m there to have fun. It’s not the death penalty!

Entrance music: ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ by the Rednex because I own the farms. I’m gonna enter in dungarees and a straw hat!

What are your ambitions as a boxer? I want to win the British and European titles and I hope that Frank Warren will get me those opportunities. Ultimately, I just want to get as far as I can, knowing that I gave it 100%.

How do you relax? I like to ride horses and go out hunting. I like to go out roading on the bikes and I like to go the (horse) races at Bangor and Dee.

Football team: Man United. Our John’s Man City. Whenever we go the derbies together, he always gives me away if we’re in the City end!

Read: Boxing News plus Horse and Hound to keep up to date with the price of horses. I also spend a lot of time on the Internet.

Music: Dance.

Films/TV: I like comedies and horror movies. ‘Snatch’ is probably my favourite film. On TV, I like a bit of Corrie and crime series.

Aspiration in life: To achieve as much as I can, have a good time and give my children the best possible future.

Motto: It’s a horse one. ‘Ride It Like You Stole It!’

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Frank Maloney Interview – Talks Heavyweights, Audley Harrison, ‘Bums on Seats’ and more

by on Mar.13, 2013, under Interviews

JohnMcDermottFrankMaloneyMattSkelto342WEBREADYFrank Maloney Interview – Talks Heavyweights, Audley Harrison, ‘Bums on Seats’ and more

By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

This coming Friday, March 15th, promoter Frank Maloney returns to the York Hall in Bethnal Green for his latest offering ‘Loaded and Dangerous In London’, which is headlined by Matt Skelton versus John McDermott for the vacant English Heavyweight title.

This event is a sort of homecoming for Peckham London born Frank, having not promoted at the Capital’s home of boxing since his huge show in June 2009, which was headlined by Jason Booth’s successful British Super Bantamweight title defense against Rocky Dean.

This classic Frank Maloney Promotions event featured the cream of his stable, including sadly missed former Beijing Olympic Bronze medalist Darren Sutherland, Akaash Bhatia, Ashley Sexton, Martin Power plus a host of local prospects and debutants. Of course being a FMP event it had to include a Heavyweight bout, in this case Tom Dallas versus Stas Bilokon.

Before I get carried away and start talking too much about that excellent event, I’ll change tack and move on to Frank’s greatest passion within the sport and of course his interview.

Frank is Mr. Heavyweight Boxing, OK, he lives and breathes boxing so maybe that should be Mr. Boxing, but that aside he has singlehandedly worked his socks off to try and breath some life into the Heavyweight division over the years.

His love affair with the ‘Big Boys’ may not have started when he began managing Lennox Lewis, but I can’t help but feel that was the biggest shot in the arm to this particular tryst.

Over the years Frank has taken virtually every British Heavyweight under his wing at one time or another, so when we got together, following the ‘Loaded and Dangerous in London’ press conference at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, I didn’t have much difficulty getting him to talk about Heavyweights and Heavyweight Boxing.

RIO: You have a big Heavyweight fight coming up on Saturday at York Hall. You’ve always been one of the biggest supporters of the Heavyweight Division, why is that?

FRANK MALONEY: I wouldn’t say a big Heavyweight Championship fight, I’d say an interesting Heavyweight Championship fight.

You know you’ve got two Heavyweights that people say are past their sell by date, but I’m a great believer that no Heavyweight is past his sell by date, because one punch changes the whole history of the Heavyweight division.

You know how many times we’ve written people off, they’ve written off Mohammed Ali, they’ve written off George Foreman, you know they’ve written off Larry Holmes, yet they kept coming back. They had written off Kevin McBride, then he came back and knocked out Mike Tyson.

The Heavyweights is an interesting division, an interesting situation, there’s Boxing and then there’s the Heavyweight division and everyone knows I love Heavyweights.

I’d like to bring all the old Heavyweights together, get them in a tournament to just see who the best man standing is, but they did that with Prizefighter didn’t they. The average age in that was thirty eight years old and guess what the guy that everyone loves to hate, Audley Harrision, has reinvented himself and come back bigger then ever.

Just imagine if Audley Harrison won a World title, he would have been the greatest star British Boxing could have ever had. Boxing would have been in every National Newspaper, every TV station, because this guy is a crossover star.

I have a lot of respect for Audley Harrison, I’ve had the pleasure of working with him, I’ve had the pleasure of slagging him off, but have to say knowing the guy I would have loved to have handled his career for him. Could I have made him a better fighter, I don’t know but if he had ever won a World title Boxing in this country would have totally changed.

RIO: You worked with Lennox Lewis, who was the most successful British Heavyweight, besides your current boys, such as David Price, which other Heavyweights did you take under your wing?

FRANK: Yeah I worked with Lennox and James Oyebola, he won the WBC International title and the British title under me.

I worked with Julius Francis, who was an average Heavyweight, yet he won the Lonsdale belt outright and ended up in with Mike Tyson.

I built Kevin McBride’s career up, until a bookmaker came chasing me for his debt and I gave him back his contract.

RIO: With the current World Heavyweight division being dominated by the Klitschko brothers and the domestic scene by upcoming stars such as Tyson Fury and David Price, is there a future for the loser of Friday’s big fight?

FRANK: It’s interesting, obviously there is a future for the winner of this weekend’s Heavyweight fight, but even the loser still has a future, he could still easily be recycled.

I mean it’s Boxing, every promoter is trying to recycle fighters from all divisions, as we have no new stars coming through.

We haven’t got great trainers out there no more, we’ve got fitness coaches. Saying that you come here, they’ve got some really good trainers, Johnny Eames is a very good trainer who learned his trade in the amateurs, like myself.

I look at it this way, when you go to secondary school you don’t take your primary teacher with you, when he finishes senior school and goes to university, he doesn’t take his senior teacher with him.

In Boxing it’s a little bit different as you can take your amateur coach with you when you step up to the pros, but you have to have someone else from the pros involved as well.

No one is learning how to box, every fighter now is much fitter than they have ever been but they haven’t got the skills they need to fight, that’s the problem.

RIO: You say about the lack of ‘stars’ these days, is there anyone from the current crop that you feel could one day become a true star?

FRANK: I think the simple answer is that there was no rush to sign any one of the 2012 Olympians, which was actually staged in our own City of London.

The last big signing was 2008 Beijing, and none of us promoters have got our investment back from then.

TV has changed the face of Boxing, I would say we are just about above a minority sport in Britain, you know and there are still people trying to bring it back.

If you find the right fighter, you will bring it back, but at this very moment we are a struggling sport.

Football’s taking everything, look what Sky bid for the last football and who got cut back the most, Boxing.

I’m not a great believer that there should be one promoter, which would be bad for the sport if it becomes a monopoly.

We had that during the time of Mickey Duff and the BBC, Boxing was OK but no one else got a look in.

Frank Warren took on the establishment, now in a certain way you could say Frank Warren is in the Mickey Duff situation and you’ve got young Eddie Hearn taking him on.

It’s interesting, is it even history repeating itself, we don’t know. Personally I think there’s still a lot of life in Frank Warren, I wouldn’t write him off as he’s a little bit more adaptable than Mickey Duff and them was in their day.

Frank’s got his sons working in there, which seems to be the new trend in Boxing.

Yeah it has changed, when I started there was no Internet, there was no Twitter, there was no Facebook, there was no mobile phones, I think I had one of the first mobile phones, it was as big as briefcase, I remember being down at the Becket with it.

So it has changed, but if we’re going to survive we need to adapt. Look at Don King, the greatest promoter the World’s ever seen, look at Bob Arum, the oldest promoter but still top of the pile.

You’ve got Golden Boy trying to make it more corporate, Boxing can’t be run like a corporate business, I don’t care what you say Golden Boy are bankrolled by a major TV station, let them go out and promote, you know work to get bums on seats, then see how well they do then.

RIO: OK, so do you think that’s because we look at Boxing just as a sport, instead of taking the wider view that Boxing is part of the Entertainment business and needs to compete with other sectors for those ‘Bums on Seats’ as you put it?

FRANK: It’s the entertainment business, Boxing isn’t recession proof and people in Boxing need to learn that.

Us promoters know that, as we have to put our hand in our pocket, but now you’ve got lawyers coming into your office, you’ve got trainers coming into your office and they’re telling you how much a fighters worth. I’ve got a message for them, put your hand in your pocket and you pay that sort of money, because you’re not recession proof, you know we are hit by recession.

We’re the only sport where the TV rights have been cut down, instead of going up, everything else has had them go up, Darts, Football, Formula One, which are the main sports on TV at the moment and they are taking all the money at the moment.

Sky have cut back so much on Boxing, that was a business decision by them because they claim they were not getting the viewing figures, you can’t blame them.

Loaded have come in on the ground floor, they’re like a Conference league team in Boxing at the moment, they’re just dipping their toes in the water, but you know what but if people start coming and demanding a hundred grand for a show and all that, even thirty grand for a show, Loaded will walk away from Boxing.

It’s just not there at the moment, we’re not recession proof and we have to accept that. Maybe fighters may have to take a pay cut, maybe we’ll have to sit down and look at the whole thing again and rebuild the game.

RIO: Funny that you have made such a point of the recession, I can’t help but notice that the tickets for Loaded and Dangerous in London start at £30, whereas the starting price over the past couple of years have been £35 or £40.

FRANK: We’re trying to bring people back to boxing and there’s not a British title fight on the show, so we haven’t got the same sanction fees.

We as promoters, well my company we do sit down, myself, James Russell, Mark Harnell and my daughter Emma, who is now on board, and we look at the situation and then cost a show, we say we need x amount to break even and this is what we’ve got to aim for.

I don’t know if it’s true but I’ve heard that Amir Khan’s cheapest tickets are £75, as I said I don’t know if that’s true, I’m waiting to see the posters.

Our average ticket for David Price is £40 and that’s up North, so yes, it is unusual for standard tickets to be just £30 these days.

Saying that I do believe the right fight sells, now will Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler get the PPV numbers, which will be interesting as neither of them have crossover appeal, it’s just within Boxing they’re known.

Will they do as well as people think they will do, I’ll be watching that with great interest.

RIO: Getting back to this week’s show, I know you would prefer to remain neutral but I’m sure the fans would be interested in knowing who you think will emerge victorious on Friday.

FRANK: It’s a very interesting fight, I think that Matt Skelton can’t change the way he Boxes, so he will try and bully John to the canvas, he’s got it in his head that he’s already knocked John McDermott out.

John, who talks a great fight, the problem with John is he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in himself, you know if John gets it right John McDermott is one of the best Heavyweights out there.

He’s got a great jab, but he’s never believed in himself, he’s the unluckiest fighter in the history of British Boxing in the Heavyweight division.

RIO: So you’re not going to make a prediction then, OK, we’ll move on, you’re showcasing some upcoming young talent on the show, are there any standouts in your view?

FRANK: I’ve got to hold my hands up and say I don’t know much about them, because I’ve not promoted in London for about two or three years now, so it’s nice to come back to London and York Hall.

I’m really looking forward to it and working with Johnny (Eames) here at the TRAD TKO, who some of the young fighters are with.

I’ve left James Russell to put the whole card together, James is the sort of oil in my engine, he takes full credit for this show.

It’s the young upcoming fighters that need exposure, that’s what we’re selling to Loaded, it’s the upcoming fighters that they can highlight and develop. They’ve got the magazine, in fact I’m going to try and get them to come down and do an article on the TRAD TKO gym, because this is an old traditional gym and it’s a proving ground for young fighters so yeah I am hoping to get Loaded to do an article on it.

We’ve got a years contract with Loaded, with a years option, we’ve sat down with their management team and we’ve discussed the way forward, I do believe there’s an opening there for young fighters to get the exposure they deserve, but if people do not tune into it they’ll pull the plug on it as well.

It’s down to all of us, promoters, trainers, boxers, media and to get it out there and the fans up and down the country to watch the shows.

RIO: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today and I wish you all the success with ‘Loaded and Dangerous In London’ and all your future promotions.

FRANK: My pleasure.

Loaded and Dangerous In London, which takes place at York Hall, Bethnal Green in London on Friday 15th March 2013, is headlined by Matt Skelton versus John McDermott for the vacant English Heavyweight title and will be broadcast live and exclusive on Loaded TV (Sky platform channel 200)

Tickets, priced £30 and £70, for the Frank Maloney promoted ‘Loaded and Dangerous In London’ event at York Hall on Friday 15th March, are on sale now at www.tkoboxoffice.com or direct from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA.

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Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng interview

by on Jan.18, 2013, under Interviews

Jamie Cox - Photo Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

Jamie Cox – Photo Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng interview

By Michael J Jones

TRAD TKO’s Light-middleweight contender Erick “The Eagle” Ochieng is riding a crest of a wave following his best year as a pro in 2012. Virtually unknown this time last year, Ochieng has put himself firmly on the fistic map with four impressive victories in twelve months, also picking up (and defending) the English title.

At 25-years-old and 12-1 (4), the novice pro looks set for more title glory in 2013 as he appears to improve with every contest. Trained by Brian Lawrence in London, “The Eagle” holds fine victories over fellow prospects in Liam Cameron and Nick Quigley but also showed a clever boxing brain to clearly beat tricky veterans A.A. Lowe and Max Maxwell.

A successful boxing career never seemed likely in the Londoner’s younger days however. After moving to the UK from Kenya aged eleven, the younger Erick would have a shock upon arriving at his parent’s house.

“I was brought up in Kenya by my Gran but she passed away” explains Erick. “I moved over to be with my parents in the UK but when I got here I found out my parents had separated!”

The youngster’s parents had moved to the UK when Erick was five. Upon arriving at the ‘family home’ he found his mother living alone. Erick found life difficult as he had to take in a completely new way of life he had never previously experienced.

“I had it in my head I would come home to a happy family but there was always that relationship gap between me and my mum. Coupled with the cultural shock of moving to a new environment, I ended up being caught up in the wrong crowd.”

Disillusioned and struggling with a new way of life, Erick went off the rails and was soon moved to a foster home.

“I just wanted to be like my friends; they liked to smoke weed, stay out late, steal…..in the end I was actually happy I was being moved to a foster home as I thought that meant freedom (away from home).”

Still barely in his teens, Ochieng had a spell in a few different foster homes before returning to his mother’s house but was soon back to his old ways.

“My mum told me I could only return if I lived by strict rules but I wanted to do what my mates were doing which was making money and riding motor-bikes!”

Erick was put in care for a second time and was moved to a home in Tottenham where his life would change forever. While there, a care-worker (and former boxer) would take some of the local boys on the pads. Erick joined in and enjoyed the training. Just weeks later he took the five minute trip to the local gym; Tottenham ABC.

Erick remembers “I started out with absolutely no technique, but I was very strong. I started out in the proper gym and I got told by one of the trainers I had talent. I was training hard but I was still being bad…..then I had a vision.”

After attending Church in a service that focused on using talents, the young amateur started thinking about how he could better himself. He decided to give boxing everything he had before one day having the vision that would solidify his future intentions.

“I had a vision of myself holding two world titles. I think it was the WBC and WBA belts; one was around my waist and the other around my shoulder. That made me know what I was to become and gave me the drive I needed.”

The inspired teenager started training as hard as he could and was soon ignoring his so-called ‘friends’ to focus fully on his new love.

“Jesus Christ saved me” states Erick pleasantly. “Within weeks I was just going to college and then training; there was no time anymore for anything else. Jesus saved me and boxing helped me. Before my first amateur fight I was beating up guys in the gym who had a lot more experience than me.”

The strong up-an-comer would go a solid 55-10 in the vested code before turning pro in September 2009. After six straight wins the prospect would lose his unbeaten record to Yorkshire’s Luke Robinson over four rounds, but Erick is philosophical about his only defeat to date.

“I don’t see that as a loss, just a learning experience and a blessing in disguise” reflects the Londoner. “We were told it was a six rounder but when we got there it had been changed to four rounds. Robinson came out like a rocket and threw a lot of punches while my shots were the quality ones. The referee scored on volume and not quality so he got the decision by a point.”

The beaten fighter didn’t dwell on his first reverse and was thrown-in less than two months later with former amateur star and unbeaten prospect Liam Cameron in Sheffield in his first bout over eight rounds. It looked a daunting task coming off a defeat but Ochieng was very confident beforehand.

“My loss made me work even harder than before. Liam Cameron was a former ABA champion and 9-0 but the pro game is totally a different ball game to the amateurs. I know if I am prepared I can beat anybody” says Erick without arrogance.

Ochieng pounded out a clear decision over Cameron and, after another victory, was rewarded with an English title shot at York Hall against Liverpool star Nick Quigley. The scheduled ten-rounder was fought at a frenetic pace before Ochieng was crowned the winner when the former Prizefighter finalist couldn’t come out for the last round.
“He came for war in that fight. I expected him to use his height and reach and try and box me behind the jab but he came with a different tactic; just to get in my face! I ended up beating him at his own game, I was beating him inside, off the ropes….great champions can adapt and I showed I could (adapt) in that fight” Erick says with pride about a fight he calls his favourite performance of last year.

The new champion followed up his title winning effort with excellent defences versus A.A. Lowe, Ryan Toms and Max Maxwell. In each fight Ochieng has shown he can box to orders against a variety of opponents.

“I can fight in various ways” explains the Matchroom-promoted champion. “I can put pressure on, box ‘in a pocket’, fight inside….a lot of people didn’t realise but they’ll soon understand. I’m after anyone who has a title, I’ve got the best team behind me, they’re job is finding the opponent; my job is to beat them.”

The 25-year-old trains twice a day under the knowledgeable Brian Lawrence and lists Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield as his favourite fighters; “anyone I can learn from.”

With light-middleweight probably the best division in the UK, the 12-1 Ochieng looks set for more title action this year starting on March 9th at Wembley. British champion Brian Rose, Commonwealth holder Liam Smith and European champion Sergei Rabchenko need to watch their backs as an Eagle has them in his sights…
“Last year was a great one for me but I’ve come on in leaps and bounds and next year will be even better” promises the likable Ochieng.

It appears “The Eagle” may just have landed.

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