10th October 2012
Ellesmere Port’s Matty Fagan makes his glittering professional debut on Friday 9th November at the Liverpool Olympia on the Queensberry Promotions show promoted in association with Stephen Vaughan.
Top of the bill sees an exciting derby showdown between Paul Butler and John Donnelly for the Vacant British Super-Flyweight Championship, plus a potentially explosive face-off between Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight Champion Ovill McKenzie and Enzo Maccarinelli.
An action packed undercard features brothers Liam Smith and Paul Smith plus further fights to be added.
Butler v Donnelly is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Name: Matty Fagan
Family background: I’ve got two younger sisters. Today, I live in Ellesmere Port with my girlfriend.
Trade: I used to work on the assembly line at Vauxhall Motors but now I’m a full-time boxer.
Nickname: I’ve not really got one yet. Because I’m quite elusive, some call me ‘The Artful Dodger’ so I might go with that.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? Me dad is a big boxing fan. He had a few amateur bouts and he forced me to go when I was about ten. I didn’t like it. He’d be making me go on massive four mile runs when I was ten! About a year later, I started back up with my pals, began to enjoy it a lot more and stuck with it.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I stayed at the Vauxhall Motors club right through my amateur career. The company didn’t give the club anything so recently it was re-named the Wirral Community Police but it’s the same gym.
Peter Phelan coached me all the way through and was like a stepdad to all us kids who were at the gym four, five nights a week. Paul Butler (soon to challenge for the British super-flyweight title) was also at the club and we’ve become very good friends.
I had 85 amateur bouts and won 74 or 75. I won the Junior ABAs and did the NABC hat-trick, classes A, B and C. I also got beaten in the finals of the national schools, junior ABAs and NABCs. The highlight was definitely the third NABC win. After winning classes A and B, I got beat by a point against West Ham’s Luke Turner but then found out I was eligible to try again and, the following year, I got my third title, beating Junior Saeed, who had a big mouth!
As a senior I was blighted by hand injuries and, at one stage, I only had four bouts in three seasons. Stupidly, I refused to rest and get it fixed properly. Also, because of my job, I was struggling to get to the gym.
I went in the senior ABAs just once, last year, but after winning my first bout, and looking impressive doing it, I had to withdraw when the hand injury re-surfaced.
I won two junior Four Nations golds and one Four Nations silver but, despite either winning or getting to the final in nearly every national junior tournament every year, I didn’t get many chances to box for England. That’s a bit of a regret. I was once picked for a six nation meet in Sardinia but my passport never came through in time!
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I’d wanted to have a good run in the ABAs but when my hand went I knew I couldn’t squander another year. I saw Paul Butler doing well in the pros and his dad convinced me that hanging around for another four or five bouts the following year wasn’t going to develop me as a fighter. I’d been training over at ‘Arnie’ Farnell’s in Manchester for the ABAs and I think he was impressed by the effort that I put in. I was impressed with him on the pads so we agreed to team up for the pros.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by George and Francis Warren, promoted by Queensberry Promotions and coached by Antony Farnell at ‘Arnie’s Gym’ in Manchester.
‘Arnie’s’ fantastic. He’s got such attention to detail, picks you up on every mistake and doesn’t let you cut any corners. I’ll be starting out boxing six (three minute) rounders which is a big step up from three in the amateurs. Already he’s got me doing six or eight rounds flat out on the pads and sometimes I think me arms are going to drop off.
He’s very good technically, the complete opposite to how he fought himself, and though I sometimes like to get involved in brawls, he always stresses that they shorten your career.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I tend to do my running on the treadmill at my old amateur club three or four evenings a week.
I go the gym Monday to Friday. I pick Paul (Butler) up at half ten and we usually arrive at ‘Arnie’s’ gym just before 11.30. I’ll skip for 15 minutes, do a couple of rounds of shadow boxing, then stick the gloves on.
You never really know what ‘Arnie’s’ got in store for you. Sometimes he’ll give you a hard circuit before you do pads so that your arms are knackered and it’s a real struggle. But it replicates how you’ll feel in a hard fight.
Usually, I’ll do 12 rounds of punching, mixed between the pads and body bag with ‘Arnie’ and the heavy bag or bar-bag. The bar-bag routine is a ‘killer’. You alternate between punching the bag for a minute and vaulting over a gymnastics beam.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we do a weights-based strength circuit and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we’ll do a different circuit. Once that’s completed, I’m showered and gone. I usually get home around 3p.m.
My favourite part of training, like most fighters, is the sparring. Once you are of a certain fitness, it’s the closest to actual fighting. I did a lot with a lad called Henry Thomas but he’s drifted away of late plus I spar with some of the lads at the amateur club. I also do technical stuff with Butler, when we put the power away.
My least favourite thing is the Versaclimber machine. It’s really hard and occasionally I do it with an altitude mask on which makes it a nightmare.
Describe your style? I like to counter punch. I’m quick, sharp, clever and always thinking. I punch in bunches and don’t waste many. I started out as a brawler and stopped about twenty in the amateurs so I know there’s a bit of power there.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I think I need to learn to really sit down on my punches. In the pros you’re not there to ‘tippy tap’. You’re there to hurt ‘em!
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? Not that much other than what I’ve just said. You can’t cut any corners because when you get to the very top level you can be kicking someone’s butt for seven or eight rounds then suddenly they just start to come on. Look at the difference in skill levels between Kell Brook and Carson Jones yet Jones really kicked on late and made the fight really close. Against that, you can get Olympic gold medallists like Andre Ward who continue to box opponents’ heads off for the full 12 rounds.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? I’d say it was a Spanish kid called Santiago Bustos who I boxed on a club show over in Magaluf. He’s a pro now. He was so strong and fit – I think was 20 and he was about 27. I couldn’t box him off so had to have this mad three round battle with him. They called it a draw. I’m not sure he was the best but he was probably the toughest!
All time favourite fighter: Sugar Ray Leonard. He was really talented but could also fight and never shied away from the tough opponents. He fought ‘em all.
All time favourite fight: Corrales-Castillo I. That was awesome. How can a man take so many punches, so much punishment, especially so late in the fight, then still come back and win in the same round he’s been dropped?!
Which current match would you most like to see made? I’d love for Ricky Hatton to regain the WBA welter title from Paulie Malignaggi, then defend it against the winner of Kell Brook v Amir Khan!
What is your routine on fight day? Once I’m awake, I get up. I pack my bag early, sometimes the night before, then I’ll go out and do a few chores. After, I’ll just chill and watch tele all day. I don’t like to move. Once I’ve weighed in, I’ll load up on the carbs – pasta or rice – plus I’ll have some Jaffas and jellies.
If you don’t get nerves, you need to start worrying but I’m reasonably calm. At the changing rooms, I’ll usually let a few mates in. I used to do as little warming up as possible – save my energy – but now I realise the importance of being red hot when you get in there.
Entrance music: ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon. Class tune.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? Basically, I really hate working so, for me, being a professional boxer is a really great job and I just want to keep doing it for as long as I can and earn a good living so I don’t have to go back to work again.
I want to win a Lonsdale Belt outright at least. You never know how you’ll develop if you work really hard at it. Look at Scott Quigg. He only had a dozen amateur fights yet he’s on the brink of a world title in the next year or so.
How do you relax? On Wednesday and Thursday evenings I play midfield for teams in the 6 -a –side (football) leagues. I’ve also got a new racing bike and like to go out on that.
Football team: Man United. I buy me mate’s season ticket off him when he’s not using it and I went about eight times last season.
Read: I get me Boxing News every week and I’ve just started ‘Mi Vida Loco’ Johnny Tapia’s autobiography.
Music: Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. Old school!
Films/TV: I love me films. Stuff like Men of Honor, Saving Private Ryan. I like anything with Denzil Washington in. Top actor.
Aspiration in life: To make the absolute most of my career. To own my own house and get my mum out of her council house.
Motto: Train hard, fight easy!
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