April 7, 2017
April 7, 2017
Mark Heffron

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OLDHAM’S Mark Heffron has had the very definition of a stop-start career since turning professional with a second-round TKO win over Torsten Roos in Heerlen, Netherlands in September 2010. The 25-year-old has had 14 fights in total — all wins with 12 KOs — but until recently only managed to squeeze in one or two fights a year despite reeling off four wins in his debut year.

Things have turned around, though, as he managed to secure two fights in 2015, built on those with two in 2016 and is due to fight for the second time in 2017 when he meets the ever ready TBA on Frank Warren’s big Manchester Arena bill tomorrow night, the promoter’s first show of a multi-date deal with BT Sports.

Now managed and trained by Kevin Maree in Gisburn following a few fights under trainer/promoter Pat Barrett, Heffron has been promised an active couple of years as he bids to gatecrash the British Super middleweight party.

“I had a problem with my old manager (Gary Hyde) so that’s why I’ve been so inactive,” stated Heffron. “I’ve got a new manager in Kevin and am signed with Frank now. It’s a three-year deal with four fights a year and the guarantee of some title fights. Don’t forget, I turned professional when I was 18, so I was still a kid. I regretted it soon after, but by then I’d had too many fights to go back to the amateurs.”

Initially fighting under a BUI licence, Heffron has endured a nomadic boxing existence: taking in the Netherlands, Poland (W4 over Arek Malek) and Hungary (W TKO 1 over Attila Molnar) before fighting in his native Britain (a first-round KO over Chris O’Brien on the undercard of David Haye’s WBA heavyweight title defence against Audley Harrison in November 2010). He is on a run of four consecutive fights on UK soil, prior to that he had only two outings in his home country.

“That (O’Brien win) was a last-minute thing,” he recalled when looking back on his first fight in the UK. “It was a good experience, though, as I was the first boxer to fight in 3D. Now I’m looking forward to fighting at the Arena again. I can now see the level I want to be fighting at over the next 12 months.”

With five KOs in the opening round and five in the second, it is clear why he has been handed the moniker “Kid Dynamite” yet bowling people over early is not ideal when you have had a staccato early career trajectory and need rounds.

“I do all that in the gym, working on my jab and other things, but my fights are only going three to four rounds so I don’t get to show it all,” he said. “I boxed a good lad in Ireland called Mateo Damian Veron (W8 at Dublin’s National Stadium in February 2014). After that fight I should have went for titles, but I got Janos Olah instead. After that I wanted to leave Gary and was out for over a year.”

He added: “I’m not really bothered about getting the experience because I get that in the gym sparring quality lads [Writer’s note: he was brought in to spar Amir Khan when still an amateur ahead of Khan’s fight against Paulie Malignaggi in May 2010]. Freddie (Roach) asked me if I wanted to stay out there but I was in the Senior ABAs semi-finals so I came back for that. I boxed Glenn Foot, it was a good fight and people said I got ripped off for that one. One of the reasons I turned over was because of bad decisions in the amateurs.”

Heffron’s name would often be heard in and around Manchester’s gyms; his talent and power were never in any doubt yet there were whispers that he lacked focus outside of the ring. “Definitely, I never took it seriously in my amateur career — it is only in the past few years that I’ve started to take it seriously,” answered Heffron when asked if he had helped architect his own problems.

“I was always messing about, I was a kid and it was stop-start for me—I didn’t intend to come back to boxing at all because of the contract stuff. It was a five-year contract so Gary and me spoke about it and he let me go.”

Heffron piled on the pounds during the long periods between fights. However, he did not spend his days watching Jeremy Kyle over a bulging belly, he had the opposite problem. “I wasn’t fighting, I was messing around with weights, walking around at 15 stone. I had to lose that so I trained hard, put in the miles on the road and I ate well. I lost the majority of it within five or six months.

“Then I got a message from Kevin on Facebook telling me that I was a wasted talent. He said I should get back into training. I thought about it and went over to him. It’s got me to where I am now. I’ve got a baby on the way so have got something else to think about. I’m not just doing it for myself, I’m doing it for my baby.”

There was time for one final bump in the road when a family argument spiralled out of control on Valentine’s Day 2015. Heffron had decided to purchase his girlfriend an expensive watch, but had forgot to pay his father, Tommy, £1,500 that he had been given as a loan towards a car.

“I bought my girlfriend a watch, I owed some money for a car and it will got mixed up—it’s sorted now,” he said. The “mix up” led to an argument. Heffron took down an ornamental sword from the wall before threatening his father with it and causing an “identation to the leg”. The 9-0 pro was taken to court then hit with a fine of £145, a 12 month community order and had to do 40 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to assault.

“That’s all in the past as well, I’m back on good terms with my dad now. My dad’s not getting any younger, I’ve got a baby on the way as well and just want a quiet live. It had gone on for too long. It was a stupid argument, my girlfriend would speak to me about it and tell me that I need to make it up with my dad. We’re happy now, I speak to him every day, my mum as well — I didn’t see her for ages but see her every day now.”

The incident occurred almost a year to the day since his standout win over Veron and despite two fights in 2015 he had another layoff of 13 months before opening his ledger again in November 2016 with a second-round win over Attila Tibor Nagy on a Black Flash show.

He was out a fortnight later (TKO 3 over Michael Mora) and started 2017 with his third appearance on a Barrett-promoted show — Barrett also trained him during this period — by stopping Christian Hoskin Gomez in two. Modest opponents for a new beginning yet the main thing is that he is active again. With renewed interest, some new challenges and that all-important first child to fight for, expect to see Heffron kick on with what he hopes will be the most consistent and successful period of a career that once seemed destined to wither on the vine.