CRUSHING defeat in a title fight that you have craved your entire career can produce a variety of effects on a man. If you can look in the mirror and know you performed as well as you could and simply lost to the better man, then just perhaps you can sleep soundly. On the other hand, if in your heart of hearts you know you didn’t fight as you could and should have, if you abandoned your gameplan and let recklessness dictate your actions, then regret can eat away at your soul as surely as acid corrodes steel. Whether you allow that regret to overwhelm your ambition, or can harness it to boost your motivation to begin that long and uncertain climb to the top again is a question of character. Bushey’s Miles Shinkwin finds himself in just such a position.
In a six round thriller on the Frampton–Quigg undercard for the vacant British light-heavyweight title Shinkwin was decked twice by heavy right hands from Manchester’s Hosea Burton before referee Victor Loughlin waved an end after another short right had Shinkwin stumbling back to the ropes in the sixth. Yet, those three right hand shots aside, Shinkwin gave Burton all he could handle, mauling him furiously from the first bell and forcing Burton to fight at a pace he appeared uncomfortable with, and while the fight was undoubtedly exciting, Shinkwin’s decision to veer away from the gameplan designed by trainer Jason Rowland, combined with those powerful rights from his opponent, cost the Bushey man the fulfilment of the dream he’d been fighting for since his debut in 2012. With some time having passed since that devastating night in February and a week away from his next outing at York Hall on June 4, the articulate Shinkwin tells Boxing News of the impact the fight had upon him:
“The loss broke my heart to be honest. I remember getting in the ring and I was so confident, I probably had more confidence than ever before, and I knew I had the beating of Hosea. I remember seeing the Board official holding the Lonsdale belt and I kept thinking that’ll be mine in a little while, I can’t wait to hold that!! Then the first knockdown happened, and at the time I wasn’t happy because the shot landed on the back of my head, but I do understand the referee’s point of view which is sometimes hard to see. Burton threw the punch and that’s where he’s caught me, and I don’t want to take anything away from him, but it could have been so different. Eddie Hearn may not admit this now but backstage after the fight he said to me he thought I was one or two rounds away from winning.
“Was that the real me in there with Burton? People who’ve seen me box regularly, family and close friends and those people whose opinions I value have all said they were shocked at how I was fighting. It was like a different person had got in that ring. It wasn’t my style of fighting and in hindsight I could have boxed the way I did against Joel McIntyre and won the fight (Shinkwin pipped McIntyre in July 2014 for the Southern Area title). But I was so eager to impress, to say that I’d arrived, yet I think it was the worst I’d ever boxed. I’d hurt him around the body, broke his nose and I was thinking ‘I haven’t even got started yet!’ I’d had a feeling that the Quigg–Frampton fight may not live up to expectations and that one of the undercard fights was going to steal the show, and I thought ‘make that me’, and so the next day everyone would be saying that kid was brilliant. That was in my head and it got in the way of me performing properly.
“I don’t think I’ll ever feel great about what happened, it’s a loss on my record and it was a big opportunity. I know myself, Frank Warren, Andy Ayling, my trainer Jason Rowlands and my manager Richard Clark all thought it was a sure thing. I know it’s boxing and anything can happen but they were all with me thinking we’re going to bring the belt back, and then to let all them down…… Jason spent a lot of time with me in camp, Richard and Frank spent all that time negotiating to get the right deal, and they did get me a great deal for that fight. To come out of that empty-handed was a real kick in the bollocks. They put their time, money and effort into getting me where I was, and I failed. Who knows, that may be my level, I don’t know, but I’ve got to prove to them that I’ve a lot more to give and that starts June 4.”
At time of writing “Congo Warrior” by way of Bethnal Green Eric Mokonso is pencilled in as opponent, and the 2–2 fighter will come to fight, although it’s not the opponent Shinkwin would have chosen in an ideal world: “I really wanted a rematch with Hosea but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. To be honest, and although it sounds bad on me because I lost to him, I think he’ll get beaten before I get to him again. I’m digging myself out here by saying I don’t rate Burton highly and he beat me, but to be honest I don’t know where they can take him. I don’t see anyone in the top ten of the division who at least couldn’t put him in a lot of trouble.
“After I boxed Burton I was back in the gym the following Tuesday. I’ve been ticking over ever since and when the date on June 4 came up I wanted to get a bit of a kick on, so I’ve been out to Spain for a week and got in some mountain running. I had my wife Kelly and daughter Neave with me too. I’m not one of those people who needs to be away to train properly, I train better around my family. I got back from Spain and started sparring right away. It’s a small-hall show but I wanted to get back to winning and hopefully get people talking about me again. Hopefully the fight after that will be bigger and I’d like to fight Joel McIntyre next and we’ll see if that happens. For the last eighteen months he’s thrown my name about, saying he wants to fight me again. Well, now he’s got the chance and it’s time to put up or shut up. If it does happen you’ll see a much improved performance from me. Now he’s with the Goodwins he’s got a team with some sort of clout, so let’s sort it and make it happen.
“If you don’t learn from a loss like that then you go backwards. I hope I’ve taken it in, and on June 4 I’ll be back to doing what I do best and it’ll be the real me this time. I’ll get this fight out of the way and see what happens from there, anything’s possible. I’m going to be in the gym, ticking over and staying fit, and hopefully we’ll get a call with an opportunity. All I care about is providing the best life for my family.
“I’ve things to prove to myself and the people around who believe in me.”
With obvious sincerity in his voice and an undertone of quiet determination and steely resolve, one comes away from a conversation with Miles Shinkwin with the firm belief that he certainly has the depth of character to not only begin that arduous climb back, but to succeed in doing so. Write him off at your peril.