The ecstasy of a great fight, the agony of defeat! Last week I engaged in a tremendous battle. The stage was set, Saturday May 20 Copperbox arena on the undercard of the huge world title fight between Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh. I have been working so hard, toiling in the near obscurity of the small hall circuit, building my resume and my brand. I had finally been rewarded with a spot on BT Sport against a fellow unbeaten fighter, the stuff of dreams … until the dream turned nightmare.
Or did it?
Boxing as we know is a crazy sport. The intense, emotional intimacy of a contest means that sometimes a fighter can gain even in a loss. There are numerous times in boxing history where a fighter’s career has took an upward trajectory following a perceived setback i.e. Leonard–Duran 1 to reference perhaps the most famous or Louis–Schmelling. There are some fighters who seem to be remembered more favourably for a losing effort than some of their wins, Hearns vs Leonard and Hagler spring to mind. You see, the one-on-one nature of boxing and its truth revealing capabilities show a huge amount of a competitor’s character. Boxing is not a sport where if you’re losing or performing poorly you can request to be substituted, oh no, you must “bite down on your gum shield” and find a way through or go out on your shield trying! This is the culture that has been at the epicentre of some of the greatest contests in history.
I entered the Copperbox arena as a betting underdog against an opponent with a perfect record and a KO% only bettered by our heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua. For those who were in attendance or those who watched at home, you were treated to a battle that once again shows us that heart, skill, will and drama are in abundance when evenly matched fighters are pit together in real fights. An avid and passionate boxing fan first and foremost, I will always go in the ring and give 100%. This is just who I am and the reason I fell in love with this sport so many years ago watching Nigel Benn fights at my home in wast London. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be my night and I was forced to taste my first defeat within a professional boxing ring. I now find myself in a weird and precarious position, proud of the effort put forth and the fact I was involved in a great contest but obviously also bitterly disappointed to be on the losing end.
The amount of positive responses and feedback I have had from people who witnessed the fight has been overwhelming. It is ironic that I seemed to have gained more fans in a losing effort than I have done in previous winning ones. I feel a shift has begun to take place within the boxing community, a seismic move back towards the golden days of the sport where a loss was not the end of the world and would not spell the end of a promising career. The fans of yesteryear, and once again today it seems, valued the fights and the action more than the tweets and the pre fight talk. Both as a competitor and I fan I can only welcome this with open arms.
I will now take some time to rest, rebuild and then return. One thing I can guarantee … I WILL have my redemption.