I DO what everyone else does. I get up and go to work five days a week to pay my bills. It’s just that at weekends I get punched in the face.
I had 40 odd amateur bouts. I won the Yorkshire title a few times and got to the semi-finals of the Novice championships, but really, I was only an average club fighter, nothing very special.
I turned pro when I was 19, making my debut nine days after my birthday, and I wanted to be a champion. I turned over with Dennis Hobson and I remember telling him: “Get me a belt.”
I wasn’t hoping for a world title belt. I was always realistic. I knew I wasn’t a world beater. I was hoping for an Area title or maybe a British Masters. I started out selling tickets, boxing at home and got a shot at the Masters, but didn’t win it and after that I thought, I either sack it off or become a journeyman, because it was always hard to sell tickets.
I decided to go on the road and enjoy myself and getting to 100 fights became my world title.
It hasn’t been easy to get there. There were times when I wanted to knock it on the head. My hands went and for a while I wondered if I could be bothered with it anymore. I got to 95 and thought, I have to get five more. That kept me going.
I used to dream about getting to 100 fights and when I got there in Stoke, against Connor Lee Jones last October, it was the best day of my life – so far.
I’m getting married soon so that will be the best day of my life, but right now that 100th fight was my biggest achievement.
Now I’ve got there, I don’t have any targets anymore. I don’t know what the future holds. I could pack it in today or carry on to 120 or maybe even 150 fights. I will stop when I don’t enjoy it anymore. One morning I might wake up and think, that’s me done, but, at the moment, I’m still in love with boxing.
I know what I’m doing, I don’t get hurt. I remember getting a call at 9-55 one Sunday morning and at 1-30 in the afternoon I was in the ring with Tom Hill. He’s a super-welterweight and I’m only a lightweight. I was tiny compared to him, but if the money is right I get in there, tuck up and get through it.
If they take the p**s I can turn it on. I don’t let them take the p**s. They know I have it in my locker if they do. I know my way round the ring and I’m not going in there to get bashed up. I will hold, talk to them, do whatever I have to do to make it an easy night
I’ve only been stopped twice in 106 fights spread over seven-and-a-bit years. I have learned my job. I know what I’m doing in there.
I go to the gym every now and then, and when manager Carl Greaves rings me up I have three things I need answers to. When? Where? How much?
I’m not really bothered about names. I’m not a massive boxing fan. I’m not one of those boxers who study it all the time.
When I talk to people, the question I get asked the most is: ‘Who’s the best you have fought?’ Lucas Ballingall could punch hard and Archie Sharp gave me a hard night’s work. Maxi Hughes stopped me, so he must have been good.
I’ve had a lot of fights, but I still get nervous. Every time. Half an hour before every fight I’m in the dressing room s**tting myself. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t get scared.
I do it because I enjoy it and it keeps me out of trouble at weekends.
I don’t think about winning titles now. I’m too deep into doing what I’m doing. I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I’m in a good place.