Tuesday, 3 July 2012

My interview with former British cruiserweight champion Leon Williams

Exclusive Interview - Leon Williams: “I’ll have a title around my waist again very soon”

Ringnews24.com: When did you decide to get into boxing and can you tell us about your amateur career?
Leon Williams: I got into boxing after watching Mike Tyson fight as a kid. I think the first fight I watched was Tyson fight Frank Bruno in 1996. Watching that just made me think I’d love to become a boxer. So I joined Balham amateur boxing club at 15. I was there on and off for a while then I joined the Fitzroy Lodge gym in Kennington. I had 17 amateur fights. I fought twice at the London ABAs. In one tournament I knocked out every opponent I fought but I dislocated my thumb in the preliminaries for the quarter finals. I fought my next opponent Tony Conquest as an amateur and knocked him out. I never really had an amateur style though and never really enjoyed it so I turned pro.

Ringnews24.com: Did you not want a longer amateur career?

Leon Williams: I didn’t want to box for trophies anymore and I wanted to make some money and support my family by doing something I enjoy. Boxing is a dangerous game so if you can get paid for it, do so.

Ringnews24.com: You started your pro career in Cheltenham despite all of your subsequent fights taking place in London. Why was that?

Leon Williams: That was the available shot at the time. I have some good people behind me, we got the opportunity, jumped on a coach, went up there and I won. I dropped him with my first punch and beat him in one round. We had a link with a promoter called Keith Mayo who gave me the chance to fight on one of his cards so we took it. We were meant to fight in Swindon on another one of his shows but the opponent pulled out. It’s more convenient to fight in London but if the opportunity is there I’ll take it.

Ringnews24.com: You won the British title from Rob Norton who was favourite to beat you. Was that your biggest win to date and how tough was that fight?

Leon Williams: It wasn’t tough but it was very awkward. He played a lot of mind games. That’s the only way he tested me. He kept talking to me during the fight saying I wasn’t hurting me and stuff like that. All mind games. He’s an experienced fighter. He’s been there, done that and worn the t-shirt. In the last round Johnny Eames said I had to throw everything at him and that’s what I did.

Ringnews24.com: What was your toughest fight to date?

Leon Williams: That was the fight against Tyrone Wright. I come out in the first round, I’m boxing him and then he started unleashing a barrage of punches and I was like “what’s he doing? He’s trying to kill me!” I composed myself though and I remember Dereck Chisora telling me “Hold him, hold him!” I went back to the corner at the end of the round and my corner said to me “he’s open for your favourite shot, it’s there”. So I came out for the second round and played and boxed with him and then BOOM, big right hand! He was on the canvas, out cold. It was only a short fight but it was tough because of the way he opened up in the first round.

Ringnews24.com: In your last fight you lost the British title to Shane McPhilbin. How devastating was it to lose in the 12th round considering you were likely ahead on the scorecards?

Leon Williams: It was more of a shock really. I’m not a lucky person I guess. I outboxed him for 11 rounds, dropped him twice and dominated him throughout. I was physically stronger and outboxed him. Then in round 12 I went out there to stop him because we didn’t think he should have even still been in there with me and I got caught over the back of the head with a clubbing shot and went down. As they say: “s**t happens”. I brushed myself off though and got back in the gym.

Ringnews24.com: Do you regret those tactics now considering you would have won had you remained on your feet in round 12?

Leon Williams: In hindsight, yeah. But, we live and we learn. I’ve learnt from that defeat.

Ringnews24.com: McPhilbin took that fight at short notice because you were originally meant to fight Tony Conquest. Do you think maybe you didn’t prepare for him properly?

Leon Williams: You train for everyone the same really. You train hard for every fight. It’s a simple format. I don’t look at Shane as being a devastating puncher. I just got caught with a clubbing shot in the final round. I didn’t get hurt in any other round in that fight. It’s all history now though. He’s doing what he’s doing and I’m doing what I’m doing.
Ringnews24.com: If you can secure a rematch with Shane, would you be victorious?

Leon Williams: I’m confident of beating whoever they put in front of me. All that can beat me is bad luck. Right now all my focus is on Tony Conquest. That’s all I’m preparing for at the moment.

Ringnews24.com: If you secured that fight would you change your tactics second time around?

Leon Williams: No, I wouldn’t change my tactics. I would just end it this time inside the distance and I wouldn’t touch gloves either. I got told off for touching gloves at the end of every round last time and for being too nice.

Ringnews24.com: Shane McPhilbin lost the British title to Enzo Maccarinelli. Who do you think won that fight?

Leon Williams: He [Shane] didn’t get the decision but he clearly won the fight.

Ringnews24.com: So, do you think if the first round had gone on for the extra 47 seconds, McPhilbin would have forced the stoppage?

Leon Williams: Yeah, I’d say so. I don’t think he won over the 12 rounds but he did win in the first round.

Ringnews24.com: Would you defeat Maccarinelli in your opinion?

Leon Williams: I don’t really want to disrespect him really [laughs]. I know Enzo and he’s a really cool guy, very genuine. He’s achieved more than most fighters can achieve. He’s only lost to the best and he’s still the best in the UK.

Ringnews24.com: So, you’d say Enzo is the best cruiserweight in the UK right now?

Leon Williams: Yeah, he’s got the belt. He’s the guy with the British title and for me that makes him the best right now. I think Ola Afolabi is the best cruiserweight in Britain at World level but Enzo is the best at domestic level.

Ringnews24.com: You’re fighting Tony Conquest on July 7th for the southern area title. How has your preparation for the fight been?

Leon Williams: Training is always good. We train hard, that’s what we do. This is my job. We do things properly, not half-heartedly. It’s a tough fight and an awkward fight with Tony being my friend. He’s someone I respect but at the end of the day this is business. I’ve had to take a few steps back and fight for a southern area title but hopefully this will then lead me to taking a few steps forward and challenging for a bigger title once again.

Ringnews24.com: Would you say this is going to be your toughest fight to date?

Leon Williams: I wouldn’t say toughest but it’s going to be challenging. Tony’s my friend but you know, I’ve got to switch it up and win this fight.

Ringnews24.com: Is it quite difficult fighting a friend in the ring?

Leon Williams: You’ll see on the night how difficult it is or how easy it is.

Ringnews24.com: Are you confident of victory?

Leon Williams: Of course. We train to win. We’ve trained for it, we’re prepared and now I’d say it’s down to luck. Good luck or bad luck. I just know I’ve put the hours in and trained hard for this fight and now it will come down to what happens in the ring.

Ringnews24.com: What are your plans for the future?

Leon Williams: To climb the ladder and win a domestic title again like the British title. It’s all just about progressing and elevating myself to the next level.

Ringnews24.com: I’ve heard you’ve sparred Dereck Chisora recently. Is that right?

Leon Williams: Yeah, Chisora’s my boy. We’ve been doing a lot of work together at his gym. We’ve sparred loads of rounds. I go there regularly, get plenty of experience and learn from him. I’m getting physically strong sparring a heavier guy like him, standing toe-to-toe. It’ll be interesting to see how my strength shows in the ring in upcoming fights.

Ringnews24.com: How do you fare against Chisora?

Leon Williams: I do well. We go to work on each other. We’ll see how much it’s benefitted me when I next fight a cruiserweight after sparring a lot of rounds with a strong heavyweight like him. Tony might have sharpness and speed but I’m going to be physically strong.

Ringnews24.com: Considering fighters can often get World title shots off the back of a few good wins nowadays, do you think a World title shot could be on the horizon for you?

Leon Williams: No, I won’t be on that level anytime soon. I’m trying to cement my place at domestic level first. If the opportunity came along and my team thought it was the right fight for me, then yeah, we’d take it. But we’re not looking that far ahead yet. We’re ambitious but not that ambitious. Better still, we’re ambitious, not stupid [laughs].

Ringnews24.com: Do you have a message for the fans?

Leon Williams: Team Solid, all day, every day. I’ll have a title around my waist again very soon. Keep watching.

Ringnews24.com: Thanks for talking to us Leon and good luck for the future.

Monday, 2 July 2012

My interview with talented welterweight prospect Ahmet Patterson

Ringnews24.com: How old were you when you started out boxing and why did you get into it?

Ahmet Patterson: I was 14 when I first started out. I started out at Fitzroy Lodge in south London and then moved to Repton in the last 18 months or so. I left Fitzroy because I was fighting for England and there just wasn’t the sparring I needed down at Fitzroy. I didn’t want to leave but I had to for my own benefit. I just wasn’t getting enough sparring.

Ringnews24.com: How old are you now?

Ahmet Patterson: 24.

Ringnews24.com: Can you tell us about your amateur career?

Ahmet Patterson: As an amateur I fought for England. I fought in some internationals. I won a multi-nations tournament in Cyprus. There were fighters from Cyprus, Cuba, Egypt and a few other countries. I won two national titles as an amateur, the Novices and the NYPCs. I had 67 amateur fights and lost 7.

Ringnews24.com: Did you not think about trying to make the Olympic team?

Ahmet Patterson: Yeah, but you know what, I thought I’m going to turn pro in the future anyway so I thought why not just do it now. Plenty of people told me to turn pro all the time and I always loved watching guys like Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather. It just all made me think I’d rather just take the headgear off, put the small gloves on and turn pro. Everyone said I boxed like a pro anyway even back then. I already knew I was unlikely to get picked because I knew who their favourites were. I mean you could beat some guys at amateur level and know you’re better than them but you still won’t get picked. It’s all very political in boxing.

Ringnews24.com: How have you found the experience of being a boxer so far?

Ahmet Patterson: I’ve really enjoyed it. As an amateur I did a lot of travelling. I boxed in Jamaica and Cyprus, for example. Jamaica wanted me to box for them at the Commonwealth games because I didn’t get picked for England. I beat their best guy but I decided to turn pro instead.

Ringnews24.com: What would you say are the main differences between the pro and amateur ranks?

Ahmet Patterson: Pro is more brutal. I’d say it’s a bit slower and has a bit more thinking involved. In the amateurs you want to make the judges see everything you’re doing in the ring so you need to place yourself correctly in the ring so they can see everything you do. It’s a bit like Fencing in that you want to get in and out quickly and get your shots in. In the pro game though, all you really try to do is hurt your opponent as much as possible in a professional manner.

Ringnews24.com: Have you fought on TV yet?

Ahmet Patterson: Yeah, I made my debut on the undercard of a Liam Walsh fight. He won the Commonwealth title that night. Ringside on Sky Sports also showed highlights of my second fight on their show. It wasn’t long though because I knocked out Wayne Downing in 56 seconds.

Ringnews24.com: How did you find making your pro debut at the fantastic York Hall in Bethnal Green?

Ahmet Patterson: It was great. I boxed there a lot as an amateur and always had a great reception there. I boxed the NYPCs and Novices there and always had good results. I’ve never had a bad night fighting at York Hall. It’s a great venue. I always feel good fighting there.

Ringnews24.com: You’ve fought on cards featuring fighters like Frankie Gavin, John McDermott, Liam Walsh and Curtis Woodhouse. How did it feel featuring on such action-packed cards and did they give you any advice?

Ahmet Patterson: Well, they didn’t really give me any advice. Although Frankie Gavin did tell me as an amateur to keep doing what I’m doing because I’ll go far. He came down to Fitzroy Lodge when I sparred Anthony Ogogo and said that. Then he came down to Peacock gym and still remembered me and said the same thing. That meant a lot to me.

Ringnews24.com: You’re trained by Martin Bowers at the Peacock gym in east London. How has he helped you as a fighter?

Ahmet Patterson: Since I’ve been working with Martin I’ve improved a lot. He’s helped me develop as a fighter like making me do more work on the inside, keeping my arms up tight and using my body weight more. I’m a better all-round fighter now.

Ringnews24.com: How would you describe your style?

Ahmet Patterson: I’d say I’m a box fighter but I can switch as well when needed. But I switch with my hands up. You notice a lot of fighters who switch with their hands down and throw caution to the wind. I’m smarter than that.

Ringnews24.com: Would you say your style has changed since you became a pro?

Ahmet Patterson: I’ve been training with Martin now for a year so I’d say I’ve changed with Martin. I did a year as a pro before I came to Martin but I think I was still fighting quite amateurish back then. Since I started to work with Martin a year ago, I’d say that’s when I became a pro. My style is still similar but I’m just better now.

Ringnews24.com: Who have you sparred so far?

Ahmet Patterson: I’ve sparred everyone. Erick Ochieng, Lee Purdy, John Ryder, Alfie Smith, Larry Ekundayo, Frankie Gavin.

Ringnews24.com: I watched you spar Larry Ekundayo and Alfie Smith who are both top prospects. You were very impressive. Does this sort of quality sparring help you?

Ahmet Patterson: You need to have quality sparring in training and as much as possible. We spar each other very competitively. There’s no point in getting in the ring unprepared. We don’t go easy on each other because we’re in there to help each other out and make sure we’re prepared come fight night.

Ringnews24.com: How has your progress been?

Ahmet Patterson: It’s been really good. I’d say I’ve progressed very rapidly since I’ve been training with Martin. He’s been getting me to spar loads which is great. I love sparring. If I could spar 12 rounds a day I’d be really happy.

Ringnews24.com: You’re fighting the tough Kevin McCauley on July 6th after your original opponent Jay Morris had to pull due to injury. Do you expect this to be your toughest fight to date?

Ahmet Patterson: Yeah, for sure. It’s my first 6 round fight but you know, the more rounds I do the better I feel. I’m looking forward to it.

Ringnews24.com: Have you set yourself any goals for the coming months?

Ahmet Patterson: After my next fight I’m hoping to go straight up to 8 rounds. I’d like to challenge for a Southern Area title by the end of this year but if I can’t get one this year then maybe by the start of next year. Maybe even an English title shot. Then by the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014 I’d like to challenge for a British title shot.

Ringnews24.com: Do you think you’re already good enough to be aiming for titles?

Ahmet Patterson: Yeah, for sure. I don’t want to sound big headed but I believe in myself. I’m aiming high and I think I have the ability to prove myself.

Ringnews24.com: Who is the best welterweight in Britain right now in your opinion?

Ahmet Patterson: I’d say Kell Brook. He’s really good. He knows how to break people down. You can see the difference in class between him and his opponents.

Ringnews24.com: Would you say you’re a top prospect that fans should keep an eye on?

Ahmet Patterson: Yeah, for sure. I’d say I’m one of the top prospects in the country. I’m up there with the best. I’m confident for the future and looking forward to it.

Ringnews24.com: Thanks for talking to us Ahmet and best of luck in the future.


My interview with middleweight prospect Tom Baker about his career to date

Ringnews24.com: How old were you when you started out boxing and why did you get into it?

Tom Baker: I’ve been doing it for years. I started at 6 years old because I had older brothers doing it. We all boxed at the Repton boxing club. They were all doing it so I took it up too. I had my first fight at 11 years old. I stayed at Repton until I was 16 and then I went to West Ham [boxing club]. I had all my junior fights at Repton and all my senior fights at West Ham.

Ringnews24.com: What was your amateur record?

Tom Baker: I had 69 amateur fights and lost 7.

Ringnews24.com: How old are you now?

Tom Baker: 20.

Ringnews24.com: What weight do you fight at?

Tom Baker: Middleweight.

Ringnews24.com: Do you find making weight fairly easy?

Tom Baker: I’m fine making weight. I don’t have to starve myself to make weight or anything like that. It’s all about eating the right food and the weight will come off.

Ringnews24.com: What do you think about fighters starving themselves to make weight?

Tom Baker: It’s not good for them. You’re not yourself really, especially strength-wise.

Ringnews24.com: Why did you decide to turn pro just before the Olympics?

Tom Baker: I was aiming for the Olympics, I beat all the favourites but I didn’t get picked. They got their favourites I guess. That’s the reason I turned pro.

Ringnews24.com: How was the experience of your first pro fight at York Hall in Bethnal Green where you fought Danny Brown?

Tom Baker: I really enjoyed it, especially at York Hall which is one of my favourite arenas.

Ringnews24.com: Have you got another fight lined up?

Tom Baker: Yeah, I’m fighting again on 5th July at York Hall. Not sure who I’m fighting yet though.

Ringnews24.com: What are your plans for the coming months?

Tom Baker: Hopefully I can get as many fights lined up as possible and see what my trainer [Mark Tibbs] says. If he thinks I’m ready and should go for something, I’ll do it. As for titles and all that, I think I’m a few years away from that stage.

Ringnews24.com: Who is your promoter?

Tom Baker: Frank Warren.

Ringnews24.com: Who have you sparred so far at this stage of your career?

Tom Baker: I’ve sparred Billy Joe Saunders, Frank Buglioni, John O’Donnell. Anyone who wants to spar really.

Ringnews24.com: How do you do against top quality fighters like that?

Tom Baker: Well, I can hold my own against them but they have much more experience than me and are top notch. It will all come for me too.

Ringnews24.com: You train with plenty of great boxers at the Trad TKO gym in east London. Do you get much advice from the other lads?

Tom Baker: Yeah, they all give me a bit of advice like when I was in my early pro days. But now I know what it’s all about. They all gave me advice for my first pro fight.

Ringnews24.com: How would you describe your style?

Tom Baker: I’m a boxer, I like to pick my shots and use my jab. If it comes to having to have a war, I’ll do that too. But I like to be a good, clean boxer.

Ringnews24.com: What is the main difference between the amateurs and pros in your opinion?

Tom Baker: In the amateurs you’re a lot more tense and rigid. I’ve come to Mark now as a pro and I’m a lot more comfortable and relaxed now. He’s changed me for the better. As a pro you don’t have to worry about getting points here and there in a fight. In the pros you can waste a few shots but in the amateurs you can’t.

Ringnews24.com: Do you have a boxing nickname?

Tom Baker: No, not yet.

Ringnews24.com: What are the best and worst parts of boxing?

Tom Baker: The worst part is struggling to make weight. Bad decisions are also bad. I haven’t had to experience anything like that yet as a pro though.

Ringnews24.com: Who is your all time favourite fighter?

Tom Baker: Sugar Ray Leonard. He had it all. He was simply World class.

Ringnews24.com: Who would you say is the best middleweight in the country right now?

Tom Baker: I’d say it’s between Billy Joe [Saunders] and Darren Barker. I’d probably say Billy Joe takes it.

Ringnews24.com: Have you got a message for boxing fans?

Tom Baker: I haven’t been a pro for long but I’m confident for the future so watch this space.