NOW, after losing to Chatchai Butdee, one minute I’m thinking about turning over, [going pro] and it’s exciting. Then I remember what happened and what it was like and you get a bit gutted and think to yourself – imagine if I’d done this, what if I’d boxed like this, what if I’d had just a tiny different mindframe walking in.
If I’d boxed like I’d boxed against some kids in the 2019 Worlds it probably would be a different story. I don’t even usually box like that. It’s all how you perform on the day. I was in the best shape of my life. I was fit and strong. I was positive. There were no doubts in my mind. I had in my head, ‘I need to go at him.’ Those were the tactics I had in my head. Obviously it worked out to be the wrong thing. I played into his hands, he was catching me as I was coming in. Maybe I could have been a bit more clever about it.
Towards the end of the first round, there were a few eye-catchers from him. It’s hard in a three-round fight. That first round is vital in the amateurs. Two more rounds I might have got him out of there! But it’s only a three-round fight.
I’m not taking nothing away from. I was trying to sort out in my head the things that went wrong because I proper believed in myself, I thought I was going to beat him. I thought was going to be too sharp, too fresh and too clever. I knew it was going to be a tough fight. It wasn’t that I underestimated him. It was just that I was a bit too eager. Rushing a bit, forcing it a bit too much. Too eager to land my own punches instead of staying relaxed and using my own experience. He was just nice and relaxed through the fight. I was too tense. I’m not normally like that. I’m normally relaxed, using my head movement and my angles and stuff. Over the years, I think a bit like a Manny Pacqquiao I go into the ring laughing and smiling, nice and relaxed. Whereas here I was thinking, ‘I need to go at this kid, I need this first round.’ A bit too fired up and overeager. I didn’t have patience. I pushed the fight too much and was getting caught with shots. In my last two fights I’ve probably been caught with more shots than I have in the 10-20 fights previous.
I’ve had a belter amateur career. I don’t know if any male British boxer has won two World championship medals before. That’s an achievement in itself and I was the first ever Scouser to win a European gold. When I did that in 2017 that was amazing and it’s always going to be with me. And I’m always going to be an Olympian. I’m always going to be an Olympian but I’m always going to hate the fact that I’m an Olympian because I’m always going to remember what happened! I properly just wanted to complete the collection. It would have been good to have a medal at every major, and the Olympics. I don’t know if anyone’s ever done that. That’s what I believed I was going to do. It is a horrible thing. But I’ll show my character and I’ll be bouncing back.
I’m made up for everyone who gets medals, I’ve trained alongside them for years. It’ll be nice to see anyone of the team doing well.
I’ve got my coach, Paul Stevenson. I’ve been at Everton Red Triangle since I was 10. I’m excited about getting back in our gym full time with Paul and getting back to work with him. We’ll speak to a few people and see what’s the best options for me and look forward. It’s exciting. It’s been a boss few years on GB, all the coaches, all the staff, they’re proper boss people. You couldn’t say a bad word about any of them. I’ve got some belter memories of going away with them.
You’ve got the lads, the team, you’re with them week in, week out. It’ll be a big change but a big change that I’ve thought about for years and been excited for.
It’s a new lease of life, hopefully everything I’ve done in the amateurs gives me a good starting point and I just build on that now.