“And the referee has waived the fight off. Vladimir Indranyi, the traveller from Slovakia has raised his arms and he has administered a one-sided beating on the home man here. There is just no other way to say it. You look at Charlie Duffield’s face and it looks like he’s been run over.”
So, went the final denouement from the Box Nation commentary team as Charlie Duffield was battered to a sixth round stoppage defeat by his previously unheralded opponent. That it happened on a big fight night at the York Hall, on his television debut, and in the early throes of a three year promotional deal with Frank Warren, would be sufficient to break many. But, looking back on those events from more than two years ago the 30-year-old is eager to put the record straight.
He tells British Boxers “Put me back in the ring with him as the man I am now and I promise you I will knock him out. He wouldn’t last with me, I can promise you that.”
What the commentary team, those watching at ringside, or on television were not aware of was the private turmoil that Duffield was going through at the time of what remains his only professional defeat. A mental state that was so bad that he confides “Basically, it was my spirit and not me in the ring that night. It was like I was at home watching one of my mates fight on the television. That’s how bad I felt. I had been through a really hard time. I just wasn’t there and didn’t know what I was doing.”
The light heavyweight, former ABA schoolboy champion and twice NABC finalist, elaborates on these problems with admirable honesty.
“My older brother was an alcoholic and he kept trying to commit suicide. So, I was trying desperately to help him out. With all that was going on I didn’t spar for the whole five month camp; not one round. I was spending my time down the hospital until 3am in the morning leading up to the fight because my brother was on suicide watch. I was always backwards and forwards to the hospital and my head just wasn’t right.”
“I lost him in the end, just over a year ago now. The sad thing is that in my head and my heart I knew it was coming and it was hurting so much to know that. I put my boxing completely on the backburner.”
Despite clearly being in no mental condition and woefully lacking in technical preparation for the fight, Duffield felt a compulsion to still go through with it. He explains “Because I had sold 350 tickets, or something like that, I didn’t want to let my supporters down. But, there is no way I should have been there.”
After the Indranyi defeat he didn’t get a fight for the next 12 months and ultimately asked to be released from his contract with Warren. The request was subsequently granted, but that year of inactivity is something that Duffield feels has stalled his progress in the paid ranks.
“I came away early because I just didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. Not fighting for so long was a massive setback for me. With that extra year I could have been fighting for a title by now. I only had two fights in the two years that I was signed with him.”
Duffield has already fought twice this year and improved his record to six wins from seven contests; with all of them being resolved within the distance. The last, a third round stoppage of Latvian Reinis Porozovs, was on the undercard of stalemate Dillian Whyte’s victory over former WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. It also featured the war -a contender for fight of the year- between Dereck Chisora and Carlos Takam. A PPV extravaganza at the O2 Arena that Duffield describes in animated fashion.
Highlights from Saturday for anyone that missed my fight, still buzzing!
— Charlie Duffield (@CharlDuffield1) July 30, 2018
“It was amazing. I was like a big kid in a sweet shop. I was just buzzing. It was the only time that I have felt butterflies walking out. It was such a big thing for me to be there.”
With his career now firmly back on track Duffield can afford to be philosophical about some of his earlier setbacks. He openly admits that boxing wasn’t something that he took especially seriously in the early days, but now confirms that it is no longer a hobby but a career for him. A change in focus that he attributes to his move to Canning Town’s famous Peacock Gym, and the guidance there of Mark and Jimmy Tibbs.
“My first four fights I wasn’t taking it seriously. I know it sounds stupid as I still won three of them. I have only recently started knuckling down and being fully focused since I have been with Mark Tibbs. He has really given me that drive and passion back. I love it. It’s great! I am with one of the best in the country. The bond there is brilliant. It’s like family.”
“In the past I didn’t have that drive in my belly to train hard and push myself to go through the barriers. I used to start training at like 12pm, but with Mark I am up at 7 or 8 am each day. It’s not a hobby any more. Boxing is a hard game and you need to be in the right frame of mind. If you treat it like a hobby you won’t get very far,”
The explosive punching Duffield, hopes to be back in the ring in October, and at nearly 31 he is in no mood to hang around. Despite, feeling fitter than he has ever been he is all too aware that age is more than just a number in boxing.
“I really want to start fighting for titles. I know I am ready and I need to push on. I’m not 21 or 22 and in a position where I can just take my time and have one or two fights a year. I need to be active and shake things up.”
Ideally, he is looking for a six or eight round tune up, but wants an opponent that will test him and look to demonstrate some ambition. He craves rounds under the belt rather than an opponent that will crumble at the first skirmish with his destructive artillery.
The aim is to follow this up with a Southern Area title shot around Christmas time. If it doesn’t happen then Duffield is earmarking 2019 as the “year of pushing on to big things.”
But, beneath all this legitimate optimism that June 2016 defeat still irks Charlie Duffield. Despite, three stoppage victories since then the loss is continuously seized upon by commentators and critics as a reference point to his limitations. That it is done so, without the context of the challenges that the former West Ham ABC fighter was facing at the time, is manifestly unfair to him. It is a frustration that Duffield would permanently like to silence.
He says with a smile “If they mention it again then I will be asking him ‘for a rematch.’ I will show them what I’d do to him. I would annihilate him. I just know how bad I was that night. But, I can only blame myself as I shouldn’t ever have been in the ring.”
For a man that spends much of his time sparring with the towering presence of Dillian Whyte, the domestic light heavyweight division provides little concern. Boxrec currently has 19 British fighters in front of him in their rankings. I end with asking Duffield for his thoughts on how he would fair against this catalogue of regional, English, British and Commonwealth champions. His response speaks volumes concerning exactly where he is now and his obvious confidence in his abilities.
“I will never call people out and bad mouth them. But one thing I will say ‘I fancy any of them!’ I fear no one. Put me on a big fight, with the right training camp and I totally fancy it. I have the right people around me and am definitely ready for a step up. They might’ve had 14 or 16 fights and I have had only seven, but that doesn’t mean anything. That’s only a number. I’m ready…”