I WAS in a position where I wanted to retire when I wanted to retire for various things like injuries. I won everything as a super-middleweight and going over to America twice was great but for a couple of years, of course, it’s tough. I’m not going to lie. It’s tough because it’s the thing you’ve done from the age of eight or nine. Being British amateur champion from the age of 13, I still remember it now – in Derby in 1985 (giving my age away)! I was 36 kilograms and I thought I’m going to be a world champion one day. When you’ve done one thing all your life and you’re really good at what you do and it’s your love, the adrenalin and that drive, of course when that’s gone and you have to find something else you love, it’s difficult.
The last few years have been very tough with my father and my mother. Now I’m getting back into it. My sons are boxing trainers, they love it and for me it’s keeping that legacy going, the memory of my father as well. Maybe I’ll start managing fighters again. I’m sort of getting back into the love of boxing. The last few years I’ve been distant because of personal things. It’s great that I was able to have such an amazing time in boxing, it blessed me, my father and my family. It’s a great sport.
I was still in great form when I retired. Part of me wanted to be the first person to get to 50-0, which was within my reach I think. But at the time my body had enough.
There were a couple of years that were a struggle for me because I was injured a lot, had doctors telling me I should retire and I thought no, that’s not happening. This is the way I live, I’ve been doing this all my life and thank God I managed to, even with injuries, still come through and keep winning.
Canelo Alvarez is going into his 60th fight. I remember watching him coming through, he beat Matthew Hatton and so on, and he was a good fighter but you never would have thought he’d have gone on, stepped up to light-heavyweight, super-middleweight, dominated. What I do like about him, I like his mindset. It’s similar to my mindset. My father always taught me – train like a challenger. Because when you start training like a champion, that’s when you get beat. He’s such a superstar, he’s 31 still but he was a superstar 10 years ago and to be able to keep motivated, keep dedicated, that’s the difference. You can say I’m going to train but you’re on your own. It’s what’s in there, it’s what’s in your heart. Don’t let your ego take over, which can be a problem for a lot of fighters. But keep respectful, dedicated, train hard. Keep doing that every single fight. It’s difficult.
Even when I didn’t perform at my best, when I was injured, I used to have that mindset of a winner.
Canelo keeps turning up, he keeps performing, he’s one of the all-time greats, he can be if he keeps winning. You’d have to put him up with some of the best.
He learns, he tries new things and that’s why fighters improve. He always believes he can improve. You can improve, I improved late in my career. In boxing you always learn.
He’s ticking all the boxes. He’s looking strong, he’s looking fit, he’s powerful at the weight, at super-middleweight and I was surprised how he so comfortably handled Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith, who was so much taller. Range-wise I thought Smith would cause problems but it just didn’t come out that way. It just shows what a special fighter Canelo is, how he can nullify opponents and take away their advantages.
The sanctioning bodies make it hard. My fight against Mikkel Kessler should have been ‘undisputed’ because I was the IBF champion, I had to relinquish because I think there was a mandatory against Robert Steiglitz, so unfortunately I had to give that belt up. That’s the thing with boxing, I’ve always said there’s too many belts and too many governing bodies. The best should fight the best. I just missed something like the Super Six tournament when I retired. That’s perfect where you say come on, let’s get together and make a superstar of the sport. That’s something I yearned for when I was boxing. It’s all about money. Whether anything can ever be solved in boxing I’m not sure. It does affect the sport when people get confused, there are too many champions.
I called myself undisputed world super-middleweight champion for years! I had all the belts, a technicality because I didn’t want to fight the mandatory, but okay a little, small line but in my head I’m still undisputed!
BT Sport Box Office will show Canelo v Plant exclusively live in the UK on Saturday 6th November. For more info go to www.bt.com/sportboxoffice