DO vary your tactics
I THINK we had the perfect tactics for each fight. I beat the world numbers one, two and three in the same tournament. At top level, you’ve got to vary your tactics. I had to fight six different fighters in 10 days and they were all different tyles. If you go in with the same tactics for every fight, hey’re going to read it. I remember when I was in the Junior Europeans, I stopped one kid, beat another, then I met some Russian and I just couldn’t live with what he was doing and he beat me on points; I changed nothing but he changed his gameplan. In the years leading up to the Worlds, every tournament we went to, the team would video the whole thing. Going in there, we’d have six or seven names, on DVDs, and we’d be watching them and working out ways of beating them. Some of them we’d never seen before but most of them we had. I don’t watch DVDs myself, I just listen to the trainer who has seen them.
DO adapt and overcome
I’m quite good at adapting. I was ahead in every fight except for against Aleksei Tishchenko in the semi-final. I was four points down and Terry Edwards told me to go out and give it my all. He basically told me to run at him and I won the round 9-0. Once I went up I just kept on the back foot and picked him off. It’s easy for me going on the back foot – that’s me all over. But if you’re a go-forward fighter and you get told to box on the back foot, you have to be careful you don’t switch off. Some just go on the back foot and forget about coming back. Your opponent is rushing in so he’s at his most vulnerable. You’ve got to pick him off, instead of thinking you just have to defend your lead but not add to it. Sitting on a lead is very risky, especially in a foreign country.
DO take it in stages
I don’t like to look too far ahead because that’s how you lose. After my fight, I’d always go and have a look at the Russian or one of the other top guys to see how they’re looking, but I had quite a hard draw so it weren’t like I could keep looking ahead. I’ve seen it before at tournaments, kids worrying about the guy in the next round and then they lose and go out. They look at the kid in the next round, say if they’re fighting a world champion next, then they go and lose to some Hungarian or something. They’re miles better than the Hungarian, it’s just because they’ve thought so much about the other fight, they’ve started off slow and got beat.
DON’T go changing
Stay relaxed and do what you’ve been doing for the last 12 months or two years. Don’t change it just because you’re there, because that could be the difference between winning and losing. There was one fighter I know, he used to get gold at every multi-nations then when he went to a major he used to go out in the first or second round to a kid he’d already smashed. It could be a mental block but some people change. It’s important to keep everything around you the same. You’re with the same team; just don’t put too much pressure on yourself.