REFRESHED, rejuvenated, and healed, Rocky Fielding is ready and eager to put 2014 behind him and attack the super-middleweight division in the New Year following a tormenting time suffering with hand injuries.
Having won and defended the Commonwealth title at the back end of 2013 with stunning knockout wins over Mohammed Akrong and Luke Blackledge respectively, 2014 was supposed to be a year in which the lanky Liverpudlian rose to prominence as a genuine contender on the domestic and world stage.
However, things didn’t go quite so swimmingly at the start of the year. Things went quite terribly actually. A farcical failure to make the 168-pound weight limit for a title defence against veteran Ghanaian, Charles Adamu, where Fielding tipped the scales an astonishing seven pounds too heavy, saw the former Prizefighter and English champion lambasted by writers, fighters and fans.
Of course, the 27-year-old easily defeated the former Carl Froch and George Groves foe via unanimous decision, but his reputation took a hit in the process. He was stripped of the Commonwealth title and he lost his position as mandatory challenger to British champion, Paul Smith Jnr.
With a shot at the Lonsdale belt no longer an immediate option for the Warrington resident, a fight with Noe Gonzalez Alcoba for the WBA Inter-Continental belt was made for July.
The seasoned Uruguayan travelled to England boasting 30 professional wins and 22 knockouts. He had only been beaten by world class operators such as Felix Sturm, Adonis Stevenson and the aforementioned Groves, and he was expected to be Fielding’s toughest test to date. The visitor did indeed prove to be a tough nut to crack, but Fielding produced an impressive display to force a fifth round stoppage.
“I felt great after beating Alcoba, it was the biggest win of my career so far. He was a good opponent and I really wanted to push on and keep fighting good fighters. But I knew I had to get my hand sorted.”
Unfortunately for Fielding and his army of fans, he has been unable to compete in the ring since his triumph over Alcoba due to a long term hand problem which required surgery.
“I tore the tendons in my hand and I’ve had to have it all stitched back together.” The undefeated puncher said of the severity of his injury. “To be honest, I did it three fights ago. But I just kept training and fighting through the pain and being brave. Now I’m stepping up, though, I just had to get it sorted.”
“Now, thanks to Mike Hayton (respected hand surgeon), I can go into the ring with no doubts about my hands. I’ve done great so far knocking people out with just one hand, imagine the damage I’ll be doing with two.”
Great Britain has constantly produced some of the finest super middleweights on planet earth. From the effervescent Chris Eubank and the power punching Nigel Benn of yesteryear, to the classy Joe Calzaghe and the bullheaded Carl Froch of the postmillennial era, these isles have always had a contender or champion who dines at boxing’s top table.
The next generation is in good hands too. With George Groves, James DeGale, Paul Smith Jnr, Callum Smith and Fielding flying the flag, we the paying public are hopeful of more blockbuster domestic showdowns similar to those between Froch and Groves that culminated in 80,000 fans flocking to Wembley Stadium in May.
From all of those popular names, Fielding’s is the least talked about and he receives the least accolades for his efforts, but he is more than confident that that will change in good time.
“It doesn’t bother me that people don’t talk about me, because they’ll soon be making noise when I start taking out the ones they rave about. I’ll be ready for them all next year.”
Despite being highly ranked with the governing bodies (No. 11 WBA, No.9 IBF and No.11 WBO), there is only one fight that Fielding is seeking.
“I’m ranked with the IBF, WBO and WBA, so I could go down any of those routes. Whichever is the best option in the New Year, we’ll take. But it’s Paul Smith that I want. Whether it’s for the British title or not, that’s the fight I want. Hopefully Eddie (Hearn) can make it happen after Arthur Abraham beats him.”
Not only does Fielding admit that there is no love lost between himself and the British champion, he also realizes that an all-Liverpool battle between the pair would do exceptionally well at the ticket office.
“I just don’t like him. He has never given me any credit whenever I’ve fought. Plus it’d be massive in Liverpool. It’d definitely sell out the Echo Arena.”
Thanks to extensive work with the Liverpool Football Club nutritionist, Fieldings weight issues are a thing of the past and he expects to return to the prize ring on March 7, on the undercard of Kell Brooks maiden world title defence, for an eight round contest against an unnamed opponent.
“It’s looking like I’ll be back out on March 7 for an eight-rounder, but I’m hoping for a big one in April.”
Under the watchful eye of renowned trainer, Oliver Harrison, who also molds the skills of leading middleweight contender, Martin Murray, the quietly spoken yet supremely confident contender predicts that he’ll be ready and in a position to challenge for world honours after another three fights.