LEE BOYCE is a 31-year-old light-heavyweight boxer from Liverpool. Tonight he fights on his second pro card, having lost in his debut nearly two years ago. Boxing News talked to the ‘Scouse Powerhouse’ earlier this week.
How’s preparation for the fight been?
I’ve been winding down since Monday, my last hard spar was on Sunday. I’m pretty much on my weight, I’ve got about a pound to lose which is absolutely nothing, that’s a trip to the toilet that. This week has just been about ticking over and working on tactics with my trainer Scotty Hamilton. Working together it’s gone absolutely brilliant. I’m fighting at light-heavyweight but the idea is to get the win on Friday night and then be looking to fight at super-middleweight in the future. I’ve been training since the turn of the year, once I make weight I’ll have lost like three-and-a-half stone, I literally ballooned up. Normally between fights I’ve just ballooned, so every camp I’ve ever been in all I’ve ever done is fight my weight. But I’m 31 years old now, if all goes well on Friday I’ll be sticking around my weight and be back in the gym on Monday. Normally I go missing for a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months and I come back a couple of stone overweight. But this time I’ll be making sure I’m only about half-a-stone over my weight. So I’ve been discussing with my trainer about going down to super-middle. For my pro debut the weight limit was 12 stone 10, I actually trained that hard I ended up weighing in about 12 stone 5, which is well, well under. So as I say if all goes well I’m looking at moving down, I can tell there’s still a little bit of timber still to shift so it’s definitely possible.
What made you return to the ring after a lengthy spell off after your first fight?
Basically with regards to my last fight, getting beat on my pro debut was heart-breaking. The only good thing to come out of losing was that my opponent James Todd was a nice lad, he was a good fighter as well, he mixed it up in the States a couple of years prior to our fight. He wasn’t just one of these journeymen who comes to survive, he was a good quality fighter who came to win. You get the likes of the Olympians who turning over wouldn’t even have been matched with him. Also it was always a dream of mine if I did turn pro to box in the Echo Arena and I got to do that. When I got beat I did take it a bit bad, I was heartbroken from it, so I took a little bit of time out. Working on site you get into bad habits, I started going out a lot more drinking with my mates – that was it really, I put on a load of weight. It was hard to motivate myself. But I’ve always trained once a week, even since losing my debut, just one pad session. It just got to a point when I was speaking to Scotty saying ‘you know what, I fancy boxing again’. So it just started moving up from the pad session once a week to strength and conditioning, a bit of sparring here there and everywhere. It just got to a point when I said to him ‘right, I’m gonna train a bit harder then at the turn of the year go into a full camp until I get my opportunity of a fight’. Basically I haven’t looked back, I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.
I basically start work at half 7 and finish at half 4. For the first half of the camp I was working in Manchester, so I was up and out at quarter to 5 in the morning doing my run. I’d be getting back from work at about 6pm, training from 7. Basically once I was leaving my house it was all go. It was hard work but I got transferred to a Liverpool job so it was little bit easier. It’s hard work but it’s worth it.
What gym are you training out of?
I’m training out of Derry Mathew’s gym. There’s a good few boxers there, my trainer’s also a personal trainer so that gym’s basically his base. It’s a proper boxing gym, it’s a great atmosphere in there. I’ve got my sponsors Tyrell Electrical as well who have really helped me out.
What made you decide to go pro?
I had 10 amateur fights for Kirkby ABC. I literally won five and lost and I was frustrated because all coaches used to want me to box on the back foot and you had to wear head guards back then. I did enjoy the amateur game but you’re always just getting like tagged, it’s like a little game of tig and everything’s getting scored. I always preferred getting stuck in, one time I went to an unlicensed show in the Liverpool Olympia and I sat ringside and I just loved it. It was exactly like the pro game -no head guards, ten ounce gloves, just out and out wars. It suits me more. I went back to Kirkby’s and told my coaches I fancied having a go. So I didn’t renew my amateur badge and ended up going to Kempston Street boxing and fitness. There was a good group of them there who all boxed on the unlicensed shows. I ended up having about 10 or 11 unlicensed fights, I enjoyed them a lot more than the amateurs. It came to a point, I’d just turned 29 and I thought ‘you know what, I’d love to just have a little go’ even if I only have an handful of pro fights, just to say I had a go to look back on.
What are some of the differences you’ve seen from the unlicensed shows since turning over?
To be fair I was always picky with the unlicensed shows I boxed on; I know a lot of people frown upon unlicensed boxing. There’s an unlicensed and white collar organisation in Liverpool called IBC, that’s run as perfectly as a pro show. You have your medicals, there’s doctors and ambulances ready at the shows, the gloves are all checked, everyone’s weight has got to be spot on – there’s no-one boxing someone a stone heavier or whatever. So for me no, I haven’t seen much difference. But I have been to shows where there’s a lad boxing someone like three stone heavier than them, the gloves look a bit worn out, they’re coming to the gym with no hand wraps, no medical staff ringside. It’s just dangerous, those shows shouldn’t even be ran. But as I said, I’ve always been picky and gone on the shows were they’re fair and everything’s safe.
How are you at selling tickets and do you feel pressure to sell to get on the show?
At times you do, when you first announce it you do worry a bit. But a promoter’s got every right to make sure there’s boxers on the show that do sell tickets because opponents and wages; that money doesn’t appear from nowhere. But I must admit I’m fortunate enough that I’ve always sold enough tickets to cover my own back – to cover my opponents wages, to cover my wages, to cover the promoter. I’ve always sold at least like 70 tickets, for my pro debut I sold about 250 but I think that was part and parcel of being on the David Price [vs Tony Thompson] undercard at the Echo Arena. For this show coming up I’ve sold about 80 tickets, which isn’t too bad considering the promoter had a few problems getting the tickets, we only got them a couple of weeks ago, so it’s not bad like.
You’re quite an aggressive fighter, do you think your style helps you sell tickets?
I don’t think it’s my boxing style at all that sells tickets. I’ve just got a load of mates that want to come and support me. I’ve always said I’m a novice pro, I enjoy boxing, I love it. I wish I was like the guys like Anthony Fowler, doing really well in the amateurs and doing it the proper way – winning the ABA’s, looking at the Olympics and that. I wish I was blessed with the skills to be that type of boxer. I’m a better joiner than a boxer to be honest! But I sell tickets because I like to think I get on with everyone and I’ve got loads of mates and a cracking family who all pay their hard earned money to watch me.
What would you describe your style as?
I always get drawn into a fight, I always like fighting inside. In this camp I’ve been focusing with Scotty on using my reach and really boxing, boxing properly, rather than getting drawn in and scrapping inside. I’ve done well this camp, I’ve had plenty of spars where I’ve been trying everything and felt I’ve done well. So hopefully that will come into show on Friday night, boxing on the outside in a different style than I’ve done before.
Who were your favourite fighters growing up?
It’s a funny thing, I didn’t have my first amateur fight until I was about 21. When I was younger I used to go to the Kirkby gym when I was in school with my mates. I remember the first time I got in the ring I met John Lloyd, he’s one of the longest serving amateur coaches, it’s his club, I just remember him turning around and saying ‘right Boycee, you can spar on Monday’. I didn’t enjoy my weekend one bit, I thought ‘**** this I’m not getting punched in my head!’ So I just didn’t turn up, when I went a couple of months later every time it came to talking of sparring I just threw a spanner in the works like ‘oh my dog’s died’ you know what I mean! But as I grew older I grew out of it, I found out what a pint of lager tasted like and so on. It got to a point where I just thought, it’s never too late. I went back and had my first amateur fight at about 21. But getting into boxing when I was younger I used to stay over at my dad’s house at a weekend, he loves the boxing my dad. We used to watch the likes of Eubank, Nigel Benn, Steve Collins, Naseem Hamed from the start of his career coming through, it was all them. Especially with the way Naz entered the ring, flipping over the rope, those type of fighters when you’re younger it just attracts you to it straight away. I ended up following Ricky Hatton throughout most of his career, I wouldn’t say the early days but when he started coming into his prime I followed him all over Vegas, Manchester, everywhere really. Ricky Hatton was probably part and parcel of me getting stuck back into it again in my early twenties.
Your opponent was changed just a few days ago for your fight coming up this Friday night, how has this affected you?
I always have a look on boxrec every now and then and check the schedule, I was due to fight someone who had had about 85 fights, but he was swapped over to someone who had about 5 fights, won 2 and lost 2 something like that. So I wasn’t too fazed, then I heard he pulled out and now I’m boxing someone who’s making their pro debut from the Czech Republic [Matus Olah]. So I know nothing about him at all, all I know is what it’s like to get beat on your pro debut, it’s heart-breaking, so we’ll leave that one at that. When the first opponent was named he was southpaw and had only won about 9 of his 85 fights. So I knew basically he’s been around the boxing game for a long time and had experience, but the likes of him I should be beating, and if I was gonna get beat by someone like him I knew I had no place in boxing really – that’s just how I feel about it. You can always get little clips of your opponent on the internet if they’ve had a load of fights like that and I did fancy to beat him, so we were working in the gym on boxing a southpaw. Then it got changed to an opponent who’s orthodox, and then it got changed to my opponent now where I don’t even know if he’s southpaw or orthodox, I don’t even know his amateur background. As I say though, I’ve trained hard myself so I’m pretty confident I should be able to do the business on Friday.
Do you feel a part of Liverpool’s thriving boxing scene?
It is nice to be in Derry’s gym, obviously he’s a massive, massive name in Liverpool. It is nice to be in there, it’s simple little things like training in a gym where it’s got all boxing banners on from previous fights. There’s a poster when you first walk in the gym and it’s him and Paul Smith in their early days. Things like that give you a boss buzz when you walk in the gym. Do I feel like I’m part of the Liverpool scene? I haven’t done it loads but I’ve been up and ran the Everton hills where John Conteh used to go, you do get a little feeling inside of you, it is a nice buzz. I wouldn’t say I’m a big part of the Liverpool boxing scene, I’m just enjoying what I’m doing, it’s nice to have my pro license back and be scheduled to fight in Liverpool.