Mark Dickinson is the best prospect you haven’t seen (yet)

Mark Dickinson
Andy Chubb/England Boxing
Young Mark Dickinson, a top middleweight, is setting out to make an impression as a pro

MARK DICKINSON announced this week that he would turn professional.

The middleweight has not won a major international medal. He was too young to box at a senior Commonwealth Games, he didn’t appear in the World Series of Boxing and he was not selected for the first Olympic qualification event. But at just 21 years old his potential is huge.

Throughout Junior and Schoolboy levels he has won ABA championships and is the reigning England Boxing national Elite titlist. “I won eight nationals, one of them being senior. Then as a Schoolboy I was a European bronze medallist. I won the Haringey Box Cup, then after that I won the under 18s Commonwealth Games and then a couple of months after that I won the under 18 European championships and then I got on GB,” Dickinson told Boxing News. “My first senior fight was against an Italian [Salvatore Cavallaro, who] beat Troy Williamson and he beat [Anthony] Fowler. I was only 18 or 19 when I boxed him, I don’t think a lot of people thought I was going to win. But I ended up schooling him and winning the full tournament. Then I went to the Gee Bee [tournament] in Finland, I boxed four times in four days out there, [winning them all, including] against Kazakhstan [Nurbek Oralbay], who was Youth World and Olympic champion and the final was against the Russian [Vadim Tukov], who was university world champion. Then a couple of weeks after that I won the senior ABAs.” He also won the prize for boxer of the tournament.

Yet he suffered defeats at both the European Games and the Worlds in Russia later in 2019. “The World championships I boxed an Armenian [Arman Darchinyan]. That just came down to man-strength. The first round I absolutely pinged him, then the zap came out of my shots and it was like he just kept walking forward. He was 28 years old or something. I’d just turned 20,” he said. “More or less a teenager. It just came down to man-strength. He wasn’t really a technically better boxer than me.”

But you don’t get too many second chances on the Great Britain squad. Sammy Lee was selected for the first Olympic qualifier. When he was injured Lewis Richardson came in as the reserve. “It’s nothing personal because we’re all there to do the same thing. So you can’t take nothing personal,” Mark said. “You’ve just got to get on with it. There’s no point sulking about it, you’ve just got to get on with it.”

Those qualifiers had been scheduled for April of this year. But it meant Mark didn’t want to wait for other boxers to determine his own future. The coronavirus pandemic has brought amateur boxing to a near standstill. Opportunities to compete are limited. “It’s frustrating knowing you’re not going to get a chance to get your number one spot back until the other kid’s boxed in the qualifier. So then you feel like. ‘Oh well, I’m just sitting round to wait and see what he’s going to do.’ You don’t want to be sitting waiting on other people. You want to get on with your career,” Dickinson said. “It wasn’t an easy decision but it was something I had in my head for quite a while.

“I felt like I needed something new.”

Dickinson has signed a management agreement with MTK and will box in the early part of this year. “I just want to get out there,” he says. “I’ll fight anywhere, any time.”

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