5th November 2012
By John Hannen
After suffering a first round KO to David Price in January, John McDermott picks himself up, dusts himself down, and gets back on the title trail at the Aintree Equestrian Centre on November 30.
On the David Price versus Matt Skelton undercard, ‘Big Bad’ John tackles nine-fight unbeaten prospect Dillian Whyte for the vacant English heavyweight title in a contest where he feels his experience and pedigree will prove pivotal.
“He’s quite a strong guy but, let’s be honest, he hasn’t been tested yet. When he fights me, or any other top rated fighter, then he’s in with someone a bit different.
“The best he’s faced so far is [former British champion] Michael Holden and he’s 44 now isn’t he? I’m not saying he’s a bad fighter; he’s good enough but he hasn’t been tested.
“I’ve been there, got the t-shirt, and there’s nothing that he can really do that I can’t cope with to be honest.
“Who knows [how it will go]? Until I get in there I don’t know. Whether I box him or walk him down, I don’t know. I’m just training for 10 rounds, training hard, and getting good sparring.”
In a cast-iron case of ‘looks can be deceiving’, McDermott knows he will never win first prize in a body sculpting competition, but ask any boxing insider and they’ll tell you that John can fight.
He may always look out of shape but the Horndon fighter has been the 10 round distance on three occasions, and 12 rounds twice, and insists that conditioning won’t be a problem against Whyte.
“Everyone always talks about my weight but let me tell you something, I’m going away with David Price in a few weeks and I’ll train the same as he trains, but my body shape doesn’t change.
“My weight goes up and down, but my body’s my body and it’ll never change. I’ve never struggled with the distance or quit half way through. I’ve always done 10 or 12 rounds at a good pace and that’s what I’m training for for this fight.”
Once dubbed the UK’s unluckiest fighter by Frank Maloney after contentious losses in a British title fight to Danny Williams (18 July 2008) and an English title shot against Tyson Fury (11 September 2009), McDermott knows he cannot afford another reverse at title level.
After that aforementioned defeat to big-punching Price, John, 32, is aware that losing to Whyte will signal the end of his top-flight career and reduce him to fodder status for younger prospects – a role he isn’t prepared to undertake.
“If I lose this then there’s no point carrying on. There’d be no point; I’m not going to be a journeyman. I’m too good to be a journeyman.
“I’m not going in there to lose though, that’s not my mentality; I’m going in there to fight and to win.”
In February 2011, ‘Big Bad’ John was pitted against another heavy handed ‘up and comer’ when he flattened Larry Olubamiwo in a round. Similarly, Brixton’s Whyte, 24, has stopped six of his opponents and the perceived logic is that he is too young, hits too hard, and will have too much ambition for McDermott.
Although a pro since 2000, John hasn’t given up on his dreams. A former holder of the English strap, the Essex man still harbours an ambition to become British champion and he believes that, against Whyte, he will show he possesses the character and talent to achieve it yet.
“Obviously I wanted to win [against Price], but that’s boxing. If you get a defeat you’ve got to be tough enough to come back. Look at Roman Greenberg, he was a fantastic boxer but lost one fight and retired. He couldn’t face defeat. You have to say ‘I’m coming back and that’s it’.
“I’ve read on these boxing forums people saying I’m only doing it for the money but let me tell you something, this isn’t about the money. I’m losing more money each week by taking the fight, so it isn’t for the money.
“I’ve been English champ before so it’s not about that, it’s about what comes after it. My ambition isn’t to stay English champion, it’s to be British champion. I’m 32 now and I want to give it one more shot.”
Big fight prediction – who wins, David Price or Matt Skelton?
I think Matt Skelton will get knocked out in about the third round, maybe the second. You can never tell. Matt’s a tough guy and he’s a warhorse but I think David Price hits too hard and he’ll end it pretty quick.
David Price versus Matt Skelton for the British heavyweight title will headline at Liverpool’s Aintree Equestrian Centre on November 30. Support will include Darren Hamilton and Steve Williams contesting the British light-welterweight belt, and John McDermott versus Dillian Whyte for the English heavyweight title.
Tickets are priced at £40, £60, £70, £95 and £190 (VIP) and are now on sale from www.frankmaloney.com. Further outlets will be announced in the coming days.