FEW British boxers have been as busy and in-demand as Chris Jenkins in recent years and there’s good reason for that, too.
The Welsh welterweight, whether in victory or defeat, always gives a good account of himself and, perhaps more importantly, invariably provides the same answer whenever his services are requested: “Yes, no problem. When, where, and how much?”
This fight-all-comers approach has taken Jenkins to a 23-6-3 (8) professional record and it resulted in him boxing three times last year, a rarity for most established pros these days. It has also delivered another big fight for the 34-year-old this Saturday (March 18) in Newcastle when he takes on Cyrus Pattinson, a Geordie prospect of whom big things are expected.
“Everything is bang-on,” Jenkins told Boxing News. “I’m a little bit ahead with the weight, which is always a bonus, and I had a good spar yesterday with a lad from Plymouth, who is 7-0 and a quality southpaw operator. No disrespect to Cyrus, but I think he’s better than Cyrus.”
Whereas Jenkins has now been a pro for 11 years, Pattinson finds himself at the other end of the experience scale. Though a decorated amateur, the 28-year-old southpaw is just 5-0 (3) as a pro having turned over in June 2021. He is, however, moving at a fast pace and seeking out challenges unusually taxing for a man of his limited experience.
“I haven’t followed any of it,” Jenkins said of Pattinson’s pro career. “That’s no disrespect to Cyrus. He’s only had five fights and I was looking at the boys at the top.
“When I found out I was fighting him, I had to look him up because I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t know how heavily backed by Matchroom he is. He’s like the next big star for them in the North East.
“Joe Cordina, who is from Cardiff, spoke very highly of him to me, but he also said I have the tools to beat him. I’ve watched a bit of him since the fight was made and everything he does he does really well.
“It’s a step up for him but he’ll be hoping he is catching me at the right time. Boxing is all about timing, isn’t it? Whether I’m the same fighter I was two or three years ago, I don’t know. But I’ve got experience over him and I’m putting in the graft in the gym. I’ve got the best coach in the UK in Gary Lockett and if he didn’t think I had it in me anymore, he would tell me.
“Physically, though, I feel great. I’m in there with these youngsters having tough spars and I know they’re not getting the better of me. I understand certain aspects of my game might have slowed down, but what I do with that knowledge is try to find a positive and I know that my experience is a bonus now and a real asset at this stage in my career.”
Aware of the possibility of the fight since Christmas, Jenkins claims he has had between eight and 10 weeks to prepare for it and will, as a result, be more than ready for whatever Pattinson offers him on the night. He is also determined, he says, to right the wrongs of what he feels was an unfair decision loss against Tyrone McKenna last August, which has only added further motivation ahead of this next test in Newcastle.
“It left a bitter taste in my mouth, sure, but I just had to get back on the horse as they say,” Jenkins explained. “During the fight I thought I was winning. Going into the last round, Gary (Lockett, trainer) said to me, ‘Be careful this round, you’ve got it. It’s yours. You’ve done everything.’
“Some rounds were close but the rounds I won I thought I won big. But it’s boxing, isn’t it? I go into people’s backyards and stuff like this happens. It’s life. I didn’t win, no, but what makes me happy is that the fans went home happy. They were coming up to me afterwards and telling me what a good fight it was. The main thing is that Tyrone and myself went home healthy to our families.
“I went away for a nice holiday with the wife and the kids after the fight before getting back in the gym. I was hoping to fight before Christmas but that didn’t come off. Then we got news of this fight.”
Back again, after last year boxing McKenna, Florian Marku and Julius Indongo, Jenkins thinks he knows why. “I’m a born entertainer,” he said. “I could make fights a lot easier for myself by using my boxing ability more but when you get that burst in your belly you just go for it. I think that’s going to happen in this fight as well.”
As for this upcoming fight against Pattinson, Jenkins is under no illusions as to the size of the task, nor does he argue the fact he will be an underdog going into it. Even so, until it is proven otherwise, he feels has enough left in the tank, and enough experience from an 11-year pro career, to give another unbeaten prospect the test he both needs and would probably rather delay.
“Gary sees me in the gym every day, more than anyone else, and if he had any concerns regarding this fight or my career, he would tell me,” Jenkins said. “He is like a father figure to me. He is more of a father figure to me than a coach.
“I’m up against it, I know that, but life’s a challenge and I just love challenges. We’ll take it a round at a time, see what’s working and what isn’t, and Gary Lockett will guide me. Hopefully, with his guidance, I can get the win. It’s really as simple as that.”