AFTER 12 twelve rounds against Sam Sexton in October, Gary Cornish found himself on the wrong end of a unanimous decision as his opponent denied him the chance to become the first Scotsman to claim the British title at heavyweight.
“It was a really bad camp I had” Cornish tells me, “I had a few things happen I don’t want to talk about. I don’t want to take anything away from Sam because he deserved it on the night but I thought if I’d had a proper camp I could have won that fight.”
While it was a tough loss to take, Cornish sounds like a fighter doing a good job of bouncing back. “I had a wee break after [the Sexton fight], just to get my thoughts and all that together. I decided the best choice was to go back to where I was comfortable. I’ve got great training back home from my old amateur coach. I’ve never actually seen a coach so enthusiastic in all my life.”
Moving back to Inverness sounds like it could be a watershed moment for The Highlander, as he confesses the last year has been a tough one. “I was away the whole year, away from my friends and family. People think ‘what a life’ but it’s not what you think it is. It’s not a good life and I’m a lot happier I’m back home now.”
As the old cliché goes, a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter. But it’s not just happiness that Cornish’s new regime has gifted him. The Scotsman’s sparring has also been ramped up in an effort to improve him as a pro and he credits his return to former coach, Liam Foy: “Liam’s so enthusiastic and he’s making me more enthusiastic… I’m down in Liverpool now and hopefully we’ll be away most weekends sparring.”
“Some of my fights before I’ve not had much sparring. With Liam, you know, he says we’ll go away every single weekend if we have to”. Cornish is confident this will be key to his further development within an exciting heavyweight division. He noted; “you can hit as many bags and pads as you want but if you’re not getting hit back you’re not going to learn anything”.
With a new trainer and a new regime, supported by a new strength and conditioning coach, Laura McKay, who Cornish is also eager to credit, the sizeable Scot plans to defeat his next opponent, David Howe, and get another win on the board.
It will be the land of the giants as the 6’7” Cornish takes on Sheffield’s 6’8” heavyweight. He gives his next opponent credit, despite a recent run of losses, arguing “he’s a good boxer. He’s obviously had a few defeats but he’s a good boxer and I’ll show him respect because I respect anyone who gets in the ring”.
Howe’s height has made it hard to fight comparable sparring partners but Cornish’s new travelling and sparring regime saw him root out some suitable training partners at Derry Matthews gym and beyond. Now he feels ready. “I’m feeling good. I’m feeling relaxed and the camp’s gone well”, he tells me.
Looking ahead Cornish plans to keep active in 2018 and thinks his game plan will see him to a victory against Howe. “We think it’s going to work and it’ll be a good day… It’ll be a Cornish win and that’ll be it!” Beyond that Cornish is happy with his links with the growing MTK promotional outfit and even mentioned an interest in facing David Price “a bit further down the line, maybe we could cross paths” he said.
Equally Cornish’s 24-2 record means it may not be too long until opportunity comes knocking. While he would still love to become the first Scotsman to be the British heavyweight champion, Cornish is also open to other routes. He says, “I think we had four titles offered us when we were waiting for the British [title fight against Sexton], but I said to him [manager, Sam Kynoch] now we’ll take everything!”
Gary Cornish will fight David Howe on MTK Scotland’s January 26 Burn’s Supper Promotion in Glasgow. Gary Cornish also thanks his sponsors, The Larder, Sandy McLeod and Hastie and Dyce Butchers for making his new, hardworking regime, complete with travel, possible.