Ryan Davies is a man on a mission. Almost three years into a delayed career as a professional boxer, the novelty and excitement of life as a full time fighter has given way to grim determination. The 30 year old middleweight has realised one dream, he is now intent on accomplishing many more. Davies takes on Yorkshire’s George Rhodes (5-1-1) at Blackpool’s Hilton Hotel on September 1st and is eager to get the new season underway.
“This is something that I’ve always wanted to do but never thought I’d get the opportunity. People say that if you have a job that you love doing, it doesn’t feel like work,” Davies (12-1, 1 KO) said. “That’s beginning to change. As you get older, you have extra commitments outside the ring. I didn’t have commitments when I started. I was a young lad who’d just turned pro and everything was fantastic. You’re set on living the dream and getting to Vegas but things change. My partner is eight months pregnant now with our first baby and I run my own gym. My boxing career has helped me set something up that’ll be with me after the boxing.
“I think that I’ll win this fight and then it’ll be straight into something bigger like an area or an English title fight or maybe some kind of eliminator against a gatekeeper type of opponent. I’ve come this far and it feels like I’ve been on a journey to even get here. I never thought I’d even get in a professional ring. I’ve already climbed the mountain and I can almost see the top. It’s just about whether I can finish the journey off now.”
The journey to the top of the mountain almost came to an end at base camp. Davies was due to turn professional around six years ago but a problem with a routine heart scan threatened to halt his dream before it could begin.
“They found an electrical imbalance or anomaly,” Davies explained. “To be honest it was something they never really came up with an explanation for. For some reason, my heart showed up differently than yours would on a scan. Questions were asked whether that would affect me in a boxing ring. I’d had around nine unlicensed fights by that point and I’d never had any kind of issue or chest pains but I had to go through a battery of tests. Eventually, because I passed all the tests they had no real choice but to say that although my test was a bit different, they would let me in a professional boxing ring.
“I was supposed to turn professional when I was 24 and it held me back for three years. It ate a lot of my youth away but in effect, I feel like it matured me. I’m a young 30 years old now. Some people get to 30 and they’ve been boxing since they were eight. I feel as fresh as a daisy and it all still feels new to me.”
Davies is aiming to capitalise on the revitalised Blackpool boxing scene. Brian Rose kickstarted the sports’ resurgence in the seaside resort with his unlikely run to a world title shot. Scott Cardle carried the baton by winning and defending the British lightweight title and now Davies hopes to follow British cruiserweight boss Matty Askin, WBA International middleweight champion Jack Arnfield and stablemate Adam Little in leading the latest wave of talent from the Lancashire coast. A victory over Rhodes would position Davies nicely for his own concerted attack on the domestic rankings.
“I’m quite aware that boxers have a very short life [in the sport] and I know it won’t be around forever. You have to take the opportunities when you can get them and understand that it won’t be around forever. I’m trying to make the most of that locally. With the popularity I have, I’m trying to build my own brand and fan base and, thankfully, it’s worked out.
“Myself, Jack and Matty are all coming through now. Matty has finally got his just rewards. He’s been lingering around that British title level for a while now and it’s great to see. I also like Jack and it’s good to see him doing well too. I get on with all the lads.
“As you get older though you’ve got to become a bit selfish. The only career I’m bothered about now is my own. Now I have the baby on the way its about securing the best future I can for her. My manager Neil Marsh has been fantastic with me and now it’s about pushing on and hopefully getting my own just rewards.”
Marsh himself is looking forward to seeing his man in action. “We’re ready to give Ryan a step up now,” he said. “We’re getting him ready for championship fights and it won’t be long until he’s at that kind of level. He’ll be down the the championship weight limit for this fight and this is all about getting him ready for that next level.”
Until he suffered a shock stoppage last time out, Rhodes, 25, was in a similar position to the one that Davies now finds himself in. His entertaining and aggressive style generated plenty of local interest and he began to attract a sizeable following from his hometown of Scarborough. Davies knows exactly what to expect from the Yorkshiremen and is determined not to let Rhodes reclaim his standing at his expense.
“George looks young, fit and game. He just lost his first fight but I remember when I lost for the first time. It made me even more hungry to come back. I expect nothing less from George.
“He’s going to come and fight and good on him for that. I’m confident. I think there are certain areas I can exploit. I give everybody I fight respect. I’m sure he’s training very hard – I know I am – and the best man will win on the night. I believe that will be me but we will see.”
R.P Davies v George Rhodes takes place at the Blackpool Hilton on Friday September 1st. Mick Hall’s clash with Darryl Sharp is also on the bill. Tickets are available from Davies Boxing Gym, by calling 07780962863 or by e-mailing [email protected]