An interview with The Lion
Where did it all start?
I'm originally from Birmingham - yes, I know, I’m really a Brummie. I moved to Blackpool when I was 8 years old. I was a very hyper-active kid, or so my Dad tells me, so when me and the family moved to Blackpool, my Dad (Eddie) took me to the gym and started me down the path of becoming a boxer. I was only 9, but loved it and my Dad was told that I was a bit of a natural and seemed to be channelling my energy in the gym!
I had my 1st amateur fight when I was 11, which I lost, but it didn’t put me off and I went on to have 90 amateur fights winning 78 of them and boxing for England. Over 30 of these fights were in different places around the world, the most memorable being in New Delhi, India.
I was a 6 times national champion, earned a bronze in the European cadet championships and loved every minute of the amateur boxing life.
At the same time I worked with my Dad as a painter and decorator but things got hard and after a good heart to heart with the old man I decided to turn professional and concentrate full time on being a boxer.
It’s at this point that I met Bobby Rimmer; a fantastic coach from Manchester. The day I met Bobby was the day I knew this was going to be my future and so I decided to move to Manchester that day. We just clicked and I have had a great relationship with him since day one. Bobby is not just my trainer, he treats me like a son and so from the very start I was dedicated to performing to my best ability.
I lived and trained in Manchester for 4 years until I was lucky enough to have my son Oscar brought in to the world. As all the family came from Blackpool it made sense to move back to Blackpool for obvious reasons and to travel to Manchester for my training.
I realise how hard I have to work and what sacrifices I have to make to reach my potential. I don't see my family as much as I want to but I know that one day they will be proud of their Dad and the things I have achieved. Boxing teaches you good ethics and morals which I will pass on to them.
Who do you admire and look up to?
My favourite boxer is Oscar Dela Hoya. I loved his style of fighting; he put everything on the line, he's a great role model for the sport and he respected everyone, including the people he was fighting. I even named my eldest son after him.
What has been your toughest time?
My lowest moment came when I fought against Jason Rushton. It should have been the best time in the world for me as it was the first title I had won as professional. I remember the fight like it was yesterday and really felt that I did well and performed brilliantly stopping him in the last round with a second to go. However, Jason fell in to a coma after the fight was stopped and still has not fully recovered.
Although you know boxing is a dangerous sport, you see it as a sport and a competition so I really took that night’s outcome and what happened to Jason badly. I took a year out as I was that badly affected and my comeback fight, against Max Maxwell went disastrously when I got knocked out in the 6th Round. I just wasn’t myself as I still struggled with the effects from the Jason Rushton fight. I eventually went to see Emma James, a sports physiologist and can honestly say that she saved my career. She made me realise I wasn't to blame for what happened to Jason and since the counselling I have never looked back. I know it seems strange but in those two fights where I seriously hurt Jason and got beat myself, I learnt more than most boxers would learn in their whole career about what boxing is truly all about!
What’s happening for you now?
Winning the English title was a proud moment in my boxing career and was the platform for me to push on and fight for the British Title, topping the bill on Sky Sports. I fought Prince Arron on 3 December 2011 at Robin Park Centre, Wigan and was awarded a unanimous decision by a dominant points margin. In March 2012 I was able to fight the first defence of the title and a long overdue return to home soil with the fight taking place at Winter Gardens, Blackpool. My opponent was the only man to have beaten me, Max Maxwell and so it was a bit of a grudge match. Since then I have defended the British title 3 times and could not have been happier to join an elite group of fighters in reatining the Lonsdale Belt.
With respect to other British fighters I had no alternative but to take a step up in class in my pursuit of world honours. Having signed for Matchroom and Eddie Hearn the 'New Life of Brian' was launched with a fight against the former world champion, Vivian Harris. I got him out of there early on and Eddie got me another great opportunity fighting for the vacant WBO Intercontinental belt against another former World Champion in Joachim Alcine. Winning moved me up to 4th in the WBO rankings and my next fight was a huge challenge fighting the 5th ranked WBO contender, Argentine, Javier Maciel, in a world title eliminator at Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield which I won on points and was presented with the biggest night of my career so far to Defending Worl Champion, Demtrius Andrade at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, Ney York in 2014.
I felt I did not represent myself as I could that night and basically the occasion got the better of me, still I had the chance and the experience was amazing, besides in the changing room after defeat I asked my girlfriend, Danielle to marry me and fortunately she said yes so it wasn't all bad.
I've since had 2 hard slogs with Carson Jones since then and a defeat to Matthew Macklin, at the O2 Arena on an Anthony Joshua bill, on a split decision, which gutted me as I felt that I had done enough to win it as did some of the commentators and spectators alike but such is life. Another positiive however was that I signed for MTK Global afterwards and have been rebuilding over the last 12 months with a couple of 6/8 rounders against tough opponents but more importantly I have been training in L.A. with Quniton 'Rampage' Jackson the MMA fighter and working on strength and fitness which has improved significantly and showed in my last fight, a victory over James Hagenimana having put him down in the first.
What about a future after Boxing?
I’m already planning for the future, and opened up my own gym in 2015 which is going well. Both myself, when I'm not in camp, and Bobby Rimmer train local lads and who knows… someday we may even produce a future champion.
In my personal life, it will be great to be able to spend some quality time with friends and family as my wife has just given birth to our 3rd child, I'm not ready for reitring yet though as Oscar and Penelope have a belt each and so I have to win one for Fraser before I hang up the gloves.