You’ve been down in the past. How much has the surprise loss to Heiland affected you?
I’ve taken it well, really. The way I look at it, it’s one of two things. Either I’m 32 and I’ve been involved in some hard fights and hard training camps and I don’t have the same level of intensity or energy… It wasn’t a massive punch, it was just the pace, really. I was feeling the pace as early as the second; I felt tired. It’s either that, age or, more likely, I think I was just jaded. Going into the fight I thought I was in great shape and everything else but you don’t know until you know on the night. When I look back now it’s been a long, long year. It’s not just training in the gym, it’s good to be in the gym ticking over but I wasn’t ticking over, I was training for a fight. When you think boxers are training for a fight and they are training at that level of intensity all the time it’s not beyond the possibility that I was just a bit jaded. I’m not saying I overtrained for the fight because I think I’m too long in the tooth for that, just maybe that I was jaded from a long year – or it’s because it’s been a long, hard career. I could see what was coming. It’s not like he was particularly slick or hard, it was just the energy levels.
Was Heiland better than you thought he would be?
No not really. Everything he was doing I could see, the only thing that bothered me was the pace, the relentlessness and I just didn’t have the energy. My body wasn’t doing what my mind was telling it to do. From that point of view it’s either a) from a long, hard career and wear and tear or b) it’s overtraining from being in the gym so long all year without having a break. It’s one thing ticking over, it’s another training for a fight each time.
Obviously I thought [Felix] Sturm was going to happen, then there was talk of [Peter] Quillin, then possibly Andy Lee was going to happen, then I was training for the [Daniel] Geale fight, then that fight got pulled about two weeks out [then there was talk of Matt Korobov], then I was training for the Heiland fight in August, then [trainer] Jamie [Moore] got shot, then I had a week to 10 days off, then I was in Manchester, then I had the fight in Germany, had a week off, was back in the gym after that, so it’s been a long year. Look, I trained hard, I looked in great shape but if anything maybe I’d trained a bit too hard, too often. I don’t think I was allowing myself enough rest and I think at 32 you can’t train like you could at 25 or 26. When you look at Hopkins and these guys they’re still going on, they’re still supremely fit and in great shape, but they don’t train like they did when they were 25. They train differently. You can’t train an old fighter the same way you train a young fighter, I never really understood that properly or that deeply but I’d certainly look to change things and give myself more rest. Obviously you’re going to train hard on a particular day but I’m not going to, say, train as hard the next day. I don’t think you should train as hard, as often. Less is more. I trained as hard for that fight as I have for any fight. Maybe I was so driven, focused and determined I trained too hard because I trained like a dog. I really had a great mindset but on the night of the fight I just didn’t have the energy or the strength, which is not something you’d usually associate with me.
Have you watched it back?
Yes, I’ve watched it. I watched it on the Monday and haven’t seen it since and went on holiday. I will wait until the New Year and then I will start thinking about things a lot more clearly then.
The finisher was reminiscent of the Jamie Moore ending?
Yes. I’ve taken better shots. It wasn’t a massive punch, I was just completely fatigued at that stage.
Did you think you were going to lose by that point in the fight?
I’m not really that kind of person. I’m not sure if I knew what the scorecards were on the night or not, I think I was two rounds down, but at that stage I was trying to salvage something. I’m never going to quit. You’re always hoping, you’re in their fighting. You don’t really think of it like that, you’re just fighting each round as best as you can hoping you can turn something around. I knew it was slipping away from me. But it was hard to do anything about it because I just didn’t have the energy.
Have you made a decision over your future?
No, definitely not and I’m not even going to try to just yet. I will certainly wait until the end of January-February at the earliest. As I say, there’s the age factor, the hard career factor, but then there’s also the fact that this has been a very long year. There are a few things to analyze and look at more closely but I don’t want to try to do that too soon after because you don’t know what you’re thinking. I think it’s important to give myself a good rest and in the New Year I will be able to come back and look at it with a clear mind. From then, I will be able to make an informed decision rather than a rash one.
I didn’t because I was in Dubai. I followed it on twitter.
They are probably guys who would be targeting you in the future because I take it you would not be interested in them?
Not instantly. I haven’t given consideration to who I’d fight or what I’d fight for. I don’t think I’d be looking to fight before May or June. I’m going to give myself a really good rest. Since I turned pro at 19, last year it’s the least rest I’ve ever had. If anything I trained harder than ever and at 32 that’s a mistake but it’s hard to see that for yourself until after and I haven’t thought about who I’d fight or a career path. If I was to come back the important thing would be to alter a few things in training and just come back and get a win and then you’d have to see after that.
There will be options, Andy Lee is fighting Matt Korobov on December 13, Martin Murray has your old foe Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux is fighting Gabe Rosado this weekend… If Martin loses and you come back with a win maybe that can happen?
Yes, and if Andy loses and I come back with a win… Listen, the landscape changes every few months in boxing when there’s a few fights happening. You just mentioned Andy Lee, Korobov, Golovkin so the landscape in March could be different from what it is now. You’ll have to look at it then.
It might be age, you might be jaded. Which do you believe it is?
I think it’s that [the latter]. I won’t know until I fight but if I retire I’m retired a long time so I don’t want to retire and in five years have doubts thinking about giving it another go, thinking I’d overtrained. Maybe it wasn’t that. You can torment yourself then. If I do decide to fight again if I fight and I win and it’s not there I will retire because I’m not going to carry on if I don’t feel I’m the same fighter. If I come back, I feel fresh and I win and I perform really well and I feel a million dollars then definitely I’ll be ready to go and take anyone on again.
Who do you think wins Korobov-Lee?
I definitely think Andy’s got a good chance because he’s a southpaw, he has the height, the reach. With Korobov he likes to come forward and make you lead and counters you but with Andy being a southpaw as well he won’t be as good at doing that and I think Andy will be able to get his jab of. So Andy’s got a chance but he’s the underdog and rightly so. I favour Korobov in the fight but I’m really rooting for Andy.
Back to the Heiland fight, the atmosphere was great and you were clearly pumped up. Were the next couple of days hard to take?
I’m fairly long in the tooth so I know a loss isn’t the end of the world and if I did retire now I would be very disappointed I never won the world title. I did really against Sturm, but obviously I don’t have it on my mantelpiece so I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve had a good career and that walk to the ring in Dublin is a moment I will keep with me forever. The atmosphere was just off the scale. It was disappointing because I know if I’d got the win it was a world title eliminator and it would have been a massive platform to really build on with the crowd that was there… It is what it is. I didn’t win and obviously I’m thinking now maybe I need to retire, maybe I was jaded, maybe I just need a good rest. So there’s a lot of things to take in all at once. I’m not too down on it because where’s that going to get me. I don’t cry over spilt milk, what’s the point? I think it’s more important to get things in the right order and I think the rest now is the more important thing. Christmas is only round the corner anyway, let’s get Christmas and New Year out the way and come January-February when the time is right I’ll sit down and come to a decision one way or another.
Are you away again before Christmas?
Yes, I’m going to the fight in New York [Lemeiux-Rosado] and I’m there for more than a week so I might got to Vegas the following Thursday for Lee-Korobov. I think I fancy Rosado to win in New York, unless Lemieux does him early. I think Rosado will beat him. Rosado’s lost a few but he’s a proper fighter. He will give anyone a tough fight on any night and beat most. And he knows that, he knows he’s a proper fighter and knows that a loss or a bad night doesn’t mean the end. I shouldn’t be losing to someone like Heiland but if I was jaded that explains it. It’s not like he was doing anything particularly quickly or I didn’t see things coming. I could see everything coming, the only thing I couldn’t deal with, really, was the pace of the fight.
This has been the last three-four of you, Martin Murray, Andy Lee and Darren Barker. There’s been a lot of talk about you fighting each other and now it seems unlikely. Does that disappoint you and would you feel like you’d missed out?
Probably not as much as the others actually because I still fought Wayne Elcock which was a big Birmingham derby at the time. I still had that great fight with Jamie Moore, which was great; I was training in Manchester, he was in Manchester, it was a highly-anticipated fight so at least I’ve been involved in that. Of course, all that lot you just mentioned having been elevated to world level it will be a shame they never happened but I think it would be a bigger shame for the other guys that they had not been involved if no-one fought each other at all. But I could still fight Martin. I could still fight Andy. They’re still possibilities but I can’t be thinking about that for now. If I do decide to fight I need to get in there and see how it goes and then take things from there.