Premium Amateur Issue

Carl Fail has no quit

Carl Fail
Training in isolation with twin brother Ben, Carl Fail reflects on the highlights of his amateur career, writes John Dennen

AT a time when a global pandemic has shut down all forms of the sport, a boxer leaving the security of the GB squad would be forgiven for having some concern. But Carl Fail is moving on and staying resolutely positive.

“When you’ve been there long enough, you know when it’s time to leave. I spoke to Rob [McCracken, GB’s performance director] and I spoke to a few of the coaches and I knew it was my time to leave. There was no bad feelings or anything. Me and Rob both agreed it was a good time and my brother turning professional as well, it feels like the right thing to do,” Carl told Boxing News. “You can’t look at the negatives because that will just bring you down. You have to stay positive no matter what. That’s what I do, I try to stay positive and I try to keep moving forward.”

With the coronavirus lockdown shutting gyms down and prohibiting events, his future plans for going pro will also have to be placed on hold for the time being. But he is in lockdown with twin brother Ben Fail, another skilled boxer, and the two are working together. “We’ve got each other to keep us focused. We’re training with each other,” Carl said. “We’re doing pads with each other, we’re running with each other.”

While they do padwork together, the twins have not sparred for years and do not intend to start now. “There’s so many people in the world to fight, he’s the last person I’d want to fight. We don’t really like hitting each other. I’ve got so many people to spar, we don’t need to spar each other,” Carl said. “Probably four years ago was our last spar. I remember we were sparring, and I was throwing loads of shots. Ben just hit me with an uppercut and he put his hands down and went, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ That was the last time.”

Ultimately the Fail twins do plan to fight alongside one another as professionals. “Me and my brother are itching to get out now. We want to make a big statement on the professional scene and we’re really looking forward to it. I think we’re going to as well, I’m feeling good about it,” Carl reflected. “My brother, I think he’s going to open a few eyes, ever since he was a kid, he’s been knocking people out. He’s got a big punch and I think as an amateur he hasn’t be able to display it as much as he will as a pro. I think everyone’s going to see his full potential. Both of us, we’ve both got the ability to get to the top.”

Carl has beaten the likes of Ekow Essuman, in an intense ABA final, and Kieron Conway on the domestic amateur scene. “He [Conway] drew with Ted Cheeseman [for the British title]. I have boxed a few of these fighters and I’m looking forward to going and stirring the pot a bit and making some noise,” Fail said. “It’s going to be fun.”

His hopes of joining that light-middle mix, of course, will be delayed. “I think it’s important not just for me but for all the boxers to stay positive and stay focused. That’s what we’re just trying to do at the minute,” he said.

Fail does have impressive amateur highlights on his resume. “I moved up to middleweight as an amateur, it wasn’t because I was struggling at the weight, it was because of the opportunity. John Docherty turned over and Ben Whittaker moved up. Obviously there was Pat McCormack at welterweight. I was still doing well at welter but he was obviously number one in the world at the minute. Being educated, I knew my weight wasn’t at middle but I knew my ability could keep up with the boys up there. So I thought I’d give it a go. I moved up. I done alright. I felt like I didn’t reach my full potential like I could have done at 69kgs but I felt like I done well,” Fail said. “I’d seen an opportunity and I’d something I was going to get at middleweight, which I wasn’t going to get at welter, so I went for it.

“When I first moved up I think I was only weighing 71 or 72 kilos. I won the European Union silver medal. I boxed four real good kids in that. I had a really tough draw. I boxed the Italian, I think he was the number three in the world [Salvatore Cavallaro], I boxed a real strong Spanish fighter and then I boxed Michael Nevin… I got to the finals of that, which I think not many people expected. After that it was a bit of a rocky road, it was up and down. I was winning some, I was not getting the decision when I thought I should have in some others. It was good.”

He took part in the quasi pro league the World Series of Boxing, winning his first five round bout and losing to Kazakhstan’s Aslanbek Shymbergenov in Almaty. That though was plunging right into the deep end of international boxing. “I was fighting a European good international level, the best in Europe and then it kind jumped straight from there to one of the best in the world,” Fail said. “I’d fight anybody. I said yes straightaway.

“I felt like I got a lot of respect off the coaches as well after that. It showed that I wasn’t scared of anyone. I came out of the ring, they said, ‘You ain’t got no quit in you have you?’ And I ain’t. I’ve always said I’d die in that ring before I’d quit.”

“Although I didn’t get the opportunity for the Olympics and stuff, it’s been nothing but a positive for me,” he reflects. “You just have to hope for the best and train your best and train your hardest and see what happens.

“I’m looking forward to taking it all to the professional ranks now and giving the big boys some hell.”

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