Hot off a knockout victory just under two weeks ago, Isaac Chamberlain makes a quick return to action this Saturday night in Wakefield when he takes on Matt Senn, live on free-to-air Channel 5.
At 6ft 2in tall and blessed with a 78in wingspan, ‘IC’ has always possessed the physical hardware and technical slicks to mix with the division’s elite. However, contractual discord caused his career to meander aimlessly.
After a 22-month exodus from the public eye, the chiselled 26-year-old delivered a timely reminder of his talent, kickstarting his association with Hennessy by levelling Wolverhampton warmonger Antony Woolery for the full count with a frighteningly explosive volley, live on Channel Five a fortnight back.
And with mentor Mick Hennessy able to guarantee live terrestrial TV, the affable south Londoner can finally visualise a pathway to the hallowed green WBC belt he has long considered his destiny.
‘Twelve months from now, I expect to be somewhere around the world top ten,’ states ‘Chambo’ who registered the fifth stoppage of a 12 fight career that has stretched five and a half years.
‘Returning after 22 months was very difficult. You have to get the feel for the canvas, the lights, the pressure again. I felt I could’ve done better but Mick Hennessy and Channel Five were both very happy. Apparently, the viewing figures peaked for my fight and I got thousands of new Instagram followers. I’m now up to 145,000.
‘I was just happy to be fighting again, very grateful to Mick and Channel 5 for the opportunity. The stoppage provided evidence of what I’ve been working on with (coaches) Rasel and Bobby. Power! I’ve always had a very efficient, snappy jab but I looked and felt very explosive.
‘Finally returning to the ring was a huge weight off my shoulders but I’ve always been the type of person to ask ‘What next?’ rather than dwell on past glories. Now I can’t wait for what the future holds, to show further what I’ve learnt from my training camp; how I’m preparing myself better, getting everything to run more smoothly when I’m in the ring.’
It’s hard not to root for this most humble, affable yet frighteningly focussed fighting man, who survived a single-parent childhood – eldest of seven – that saw him inadvertently serve as a ‘drug mule’ on some of south London’s most savage estates.
‘It has been difficult but these hard times will soon pass,’ claims the ‘Gloves Up, Knives Down’ ambassador who was recently dubbed ‘the most interesting boxer in Britain’ by award-winning journalist Donald McRae.
‘You just need to stay diligent and graft away. That in itself builds character and I’m made for it. I was always prepared to put in the hard work when there were no fights on the horizon so imagine how driven I am now that I’m promised a televised fight every month.’
There is a consistent commitment to self-improvement that raises Chamberlain above the hordes. Barely out of his teens, he challenged himself in savage spars against the globe’s heavyweight hardcore – Joshua, Wilder, Whyte, Usyk – often on foreign climes.
He was just 22 and fighting for a sixth time when he captured the Southern Area title in 2016 and, four fights later, headlined at London’s O2 Arena only to suffer from stage fright. Beaten by Olympian Lawrence Okolie (pts 10), Chamberlain then imprisoned himself at a $15 a night hostel in Miami to work under Cuban coach Jorge Rubio – an association that ultimately ended in disappointment.
‘I’m not exactly sure where my desire and drive come from but I definitely have it. I didn’t really have male role models growing up. Bettering myself was just something I had to do. I guess my mentality was a bit naïve. I was always ‘Chase Your Dream,’ he explains.
‘Initially, I wanted to be a chemical engineer but, from the moment my mum took me to the boxing club for protection after my cousin was stabbed, I was just so in love with it.
‘My philosophy is to master each day at a time. Conquer the day. After you conquer Monday, you conquer Tuesday. When Tuesday is conquered you attack Wednesday and Thursday.
‘Every obstacle in life is there to test you. But for anything to be worthwhile you have to go through a number of obstacles to attain it. I constantly strive to be a better athlete and a better human being. At elite level, all the top contenders are tough, smart, strong but I’m banking on my consistency taking me above them. I’m obsessed with getting better.’
Chamberlain’s renaissance continues before C5 cameras this Saturday with 5-2 Wolverhampton warlord Matt ‘Slugger’ Sen – once a runner-up in the Mr England bodybuilding championships – providing muscular opposition.
‘Expect another relaxed showing,’ predicts Isaac who already has dates lined up for November and December.
‘I’d like another explosive, spectacular knockout to confirm how my power has developed but, as long as the fans enjoy it, I’ll be satisfied.’