18th September 2012
I think only Lee Selby beat me convincingly. The rest were very close and there were a few blatant robberies. Very early in my career I lost a very close fight over six-two to Chester’s Lee Holmes in his backyard. I got shafted big time against Dazzo Williams in his hometown when I first challenged for the British title. That was probably the worst one.
I was unlucky against Derry Mathews (March 2007 WBU challenge) because the fight was very close anyway but I scored a knockdown and he had two points deducted for fouls which should’ve made me a clear winner.
When I first lost the British title to Paul Appleby, Paul shaded it by just one round on two of the cards but the knockdown called against me in round five was an obvious slip and if it hadn’t been called, I’d have retained my title on a draw. Both fights with Stephen Smith were very close but I felt I just nicked them both.
The defeats never get me down for too long. I’ve learned that’s just the way boxing is. Far worse has been not getting many fights, particularly when you’ve been training so hard. It’s all the dieting that does your mind in. After the setback against Selby, I was supposed to comeback on the Ricky Burns-Paulus Moses bill but I came down ill. That left me in a rut and I briefly decided to ‘wrap it’. But then I’d be watching the boxing on TV and knew I couldn’t not fight again. Once again, I came back strong.
Not at all. I’d seen how good Lee was when he knocked out Stephen Smith so I definitely knew I was in for a hard night and I trained accordingly. No excuses. I just got caught with a very good punch and couldn’t breathe. I made a mistake – crossed my legs over – which exposed my body and he took advantage. Though I got up, the ref could see I was really struggling. If he’d let it go on, I’d probably have got taken out within a few more punches.
Yeh, probably. Martin is very tough and he’s fighting at home but I don’t think there’s anyone in Britain who comes near to beating Selby at the minute. He’s just too big at the weight and too slippery. I think he beats Stephen Smith if they fight again, too.
I wasn’t surprised that I won, though some saw it as an upset, but I was a bit surprised how quick it was. However, we knew from a check weigh in that Paul had a lot of weight to lose in a short period of time and, when he failed the scales the first time on the night, I knew I had him.
Also, I’ve begun working with a strength and conditioning coach, Andy Armour, who works with the Scottish rugby squad. We’ve done a lot of explosive work together and he’s really got my strength and power up. I knew prior to the second fight with Paul that I was punching very hard in training.
The travelling just became too much. I’d been training with Billy part-time for a year and a half then made the commitment to him full-time following my first loss to Stephen Smith. I enjoyed our time together and still use some of the stuff I learned at Billy’s gym but the daily driving started to do my nut.
Danny’s gym (Greenock ABC) is about half a mile from me. Danny took me to the British and Commonwealth titles the first time, anyway. He’s a very good coach and motivator and, whereas Billy split his time about six ways, I get to have Danny all to myself. He’s on my back, pushing me all the time.
I’d have to say my best win was against Appleby, albeit for the Celtic title last time. I felt really, really good. A close second would be my points win against Martin Lindsay over in the Kings Hall, Belfast, his manor. I throw over 900 punches that night and hardly missed. My second win over Paul Truscott and second win over Andy Morris, both stoppages, were also very pleasing.
I’d have to say Selby was the best I’ve met. It was the size of him. He was inches above me and very heavy handed. You could even really feel the shots which hit my guard. The toughest, most durable, I faced was probably Paul Truscott. He took bad beatings, particularly the second time, but never went down.
Ricky and me having been sparring together since before he won his Commonwealth title four years back and I sparred him a few weeks ago. I think his biggest asset is the sheer size of him. Even though he’s moved up from super feather quite recently, he’s still absolutely massive at lightweight, just as Selby is at feather.
Ricky’s also got good technical ability, he’s very sharp. He always says I’m his hardest spar and he’s certainly mine. We’ve had some proper battles and, probably because I know his style so well, I think even Ricky would admit that they’re pretty even. I had a real 10 round war with him just before the first Stephen Smith match and probably left a bit of my fight in the gym because of it!