A normal day for Adi Burden starts at 6.15am. It finishes anytime between 9 and 10pm.
During those 15 or so hours’ the 22-year-old has to find a way to fit in his job as a building labourer, his training at Bicester Boxing Club and his responsibilities as a father and a boyfriend.
It’s a familiar tale on boxing’s small hall circuit. One that not enough people hear about.
The sport is flourishing in 2017 as we continue to be spoiled by big fights, big names and big events, but venues like London’s York Hall continue to be an important nest for the non-televised section of the sport. A historic setting that is becoming something of a second home for the light-heavyweight from Aylesbury. Burden will ply his trade inside the mini furnace on June 10 in a four-round contest against Curtis Gargano on the Steve Goodwin ‘Colossus’ promotion. “I gave up (rugby) after a year because it didn’t suit me. And then when I was 14 I finally started boxing. I dunno, all of a sudden it just clicked. That’s it, I just wanted to do it. I’ve stuck at it and eight years later now I’m (3-0, 1 KO) as a pro.”
Burden, trained by Daza Usher, is learning all about the unique and unforgiving education that boxing brings. A diverse range from the simple necessities of paying attention to your trainer, to cutting out the takeaways that the fighter used to enjoy with his family on a Friday night.
The dedication to good living, training hard and dreaming of titles all hark back to the first fight that Burden watched with his father.
“I was 12-years-old when I first ever watched a boxing fight. I remember it like it was yesterday. Mikkel Kessler—Joe Calzaghe,” he told Britishboxers.co.uk
“I went upstairs to see my dad, and he was watching it in his room. I sat with him and watched it. And ever since watching that fight that’s all I ever wanted to do. I tried rugby, I tried everything. I gave up (rugby) after a year because it didn’t suit me. And then when I was 14 I finally started boxing. I dunno, all of a sudden it just clicked. That’s it, I just wanted to do it. I’ve stuck at it and eight years later now I’m (3-0, 1 KO) as a pro.”
Burden would have his first fight at 14 as the boxing bug began to nestle within him. High Wycombe was the location. A three-round affair where nerves got the better of the youngster.
“I froze,” said Burden. “I thought to myself what am I doing, why am I doing this? But as the rounds went on I got more into it. I actually caught the guy in the third round but by then I had lost. But I lost fair and square. It made me better, made me train harder and I just thought I don’t want to lose again.”
A significant lottery win might be more achievable than going through your entire boxing career unbeaten from vest to no vest. Burden would delve into the unlicensed circuit 20 times coming out the other end the winner on 18 occasions. Burden didn’t want to waste time with amateur boxing and the politics that came with it.
Relaxed, full of energy and enthusiastic; Burden’s life is family, job, boxing and repeat. A 2-3 mile run while most of us are asleep in the a.m to kick off his day, to making the bottled feeds for his daughter. Then it’s off to work, then to training and then home again to spend much needed time with his family. “He [Anthony Yarde] does what he wants, when he wants to and how he wants to do it. He’s class really.”
The life of a boxer, one where trying to switch off from the sport seems a near impossible task whether you like it or not.
“When I have a week off after my fight my girlfriend says to me ‘Are you alright?’, and I’m like ‘Yeah’. She’s like ‘You look really bored and lost with yourself’. It’s because I’m so used to constantly working and training,” Burden said.
“I’m sat there twiddling my fingers. She asks if I want to go back to the gym but I’m not allowed. I’ve got to have a rest! She’s always like ‘You don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re not training’. It’s hard to switch off from it. I’m always looking at the results and studying my division. It is hard to switch off when you know that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Studying his 175lbs rivals has allowed Burden to conclude that Frank Warren’s menacing prospect, and recently crowned Southern Area champion, Anthony Yarde is the best in the country.
“He does what he wants, when he wants to and how he wants to do it. He’s class really,” was Burden’s assessment.
Whether it’s at light heavy or indeed super middleweight, Burden is ready and waiting for an opportunity. He would take a leap up in class right now if it was presented to him. Impatience it is not. Eagerness it is. The desire to go full-time. A future that could be littered with opportunities inside and outside the ring. He believes his time will come. Keep winning, keep building that record and a Southern Area title challenge of his own in 2018 isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Tamas Danko, Rikke Askew and Andy Neylon—the three opponents Burden has faced to date—have all gave him something to think about for better or for worse. Burden is keen to take on guys who will come forward and engage in battle with him from first bell to last. Yet, he understands the nature of the beast. He understands that some fighters go week to week around the country picking up pay while providing a lesson in some form for the up and comes of the sport.
“Every fighter that goes into the ring want to give the fans a good fight,” he remarked.
“It’s just whether or not the opponent lets them. I think every fighter wants to put on a good show for all of the fans. It’s inevitable, but sometimes you don’t get to do that. At this level, at the starting out level when you’re fighting, the away boxers come not necessarily just to get paid but they take fights week after week. So, if they’ve got a fight the following week they want to make it as hard as possible for you, but easy for them so they don’t get caught and they can go and fight next week.
“At this level it’s kind of hard unless the fighter comes forward and wants it. My last two were like chess matches. I had to think a little bit more about my last two were as in my first one the opponent just came forward, and I could do what I wanted when I wanted and pick him off.
“I’m still young. I don’t need to rush anything. I’ve got time on my hands.”