BLACKPOOL’S Brian Rose (31-5-1, 8 KOs) looked a done deal following a decision defeat to former gymmate Jack Arnfield in March 2017. The former British light-middleweight Champion had decided to chance his arm at middleweight yet was struggling for form having lost to Matthew Macklin by majority decision at 160lbs the year before. An eight-round points win over Stiliyan Kostov was sandwiched between the two defeats, but “The Lion” certainly wasn’t roaring and quietly retired.
Rose, though, felt he still had something to give so he returned in November of last year with a six-round decision win over Alistair Warren then followed it up with a victory over the same distance against James Hagenimana in April.
Ahead of his second comeback fight, the 34-year-old hooked back up with former trainer Bobby Rimmer. The two men had worked together since Rose’s second professional fight back in 2007 and their time together reached its peak when he unsuccessfully challenged WBO 154lbs holder Demetrius Andrade in June 2014, a seventh-round stoppage.
Rose and Rimmer quietly drifted apart after the incestuous Arnfield fight: no tantrums, no big announcement or mudslinging — they just felt that their journey had run its course. After reconciling, they hope to begin a new title run when Rose meets Anthony Fowler for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental middleweight strap at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre on Friday.
“Brian is absolutely firing again,” Rimmer told Boxing News. “Before the Macklin fight, Brian had a lot going on: he was getting married, had a baby in the house with another one on the way, and was trying to build up his new gym from the ground up. He wasn’t applying himself the way he should have done, how he had done in the past.
“Brian lost to Macklin and then the Arnfield fight came along, which he didn’t really want to take but took anyway and lost. Jack had turned pro with me so it was a difficult fight for us both — you could see by how emotional I was on stage before it. It had all got too much for me. Jack had been part of my life, just like Brian. It knocked me a bit sick and probably had the same effect on Brian.
“Brian was closely beaten twice on points so it wasn’t like he got badly knocked out or anything. Brian and I had a quiet falling out after the Arnfield fight, nothing dramatic or public. We had a little go at each other and I went back to American for a few months working with Quinton [“Rampage” Jackson, who employs Rimmer as his striking coach].
“Brian had over a year off. In that time he had built up his gym, got married and did a lot of other things. Boxing is a hard sport to get right, especially if you have other things going on and can’t give it your full attention. I think Brian fell out of love with boxing a little bit. I know I certainly did.
“Then Brian started training with my son Robert down at the new Phoenix Camp. He phoned me one day when I was in LA and we had a proper chat, a man to man chat rather than boxer to trainer one where we both aired our views. Brian wanted to give it a real final go instead of being one of those fighters who retires thinking they’ve still got something left.”
Of course, Rimmer is going to argue that Rose has found a second lease of life going into what looks a tough fight for him. However, he maintained that Rose’s dip in form was due to a drop in aptitude and has been remedied.
“People talk about fighters being over the hill, but I think it is the commitment that goes first and then the other things follow,” he opined. “I believe they reach a point where they can’t commit to training, and all that goes with it, as much as they should and used to.”
The silent split was hard on both. When Rimmer took Rose under his wing he offered the aspiring pro a place to live in Manchester. Theirs was a relationship born out of love. The bond was tested yet has remained strong.
“It was like arguing with one of my kids, which is something I don’t really do, so it was horrendous for me,” admitted Rimmer. “Brian was my first real pro after leaving the Phoenix, the original one, so he was with me at the start of my career and vice versa. We made mistakes, Brian stuck with me all through the mistakes I made and I did with the ones he made. I was devastated when we fell out.
“That is why it wasn’t a public falling out like the ones you see on Twitter. We kept it all low-key and told people it was alright because I didn’t want it to boil over in public. We’d both got to a stage where we kind of got fed up with each other. Things are back to how they were now.”
Fowler also has a point to prove after losing his ‘0’ to Scott Fitzgerald in March. The Liverpudlian has a high profile on social media and was hammered in the wake of the defeat. Rimmer believes that the presence of so many platforms and avenues of abuse makes it even harder for young fighters in particular to put a defeat behind them.
“I don’t know what it is. These kids out there get up in the morning, they maybe aren’t having a good day, and they look on social media at these people having these false, fancy lives all around them. Then they think: ‘Why isn’t my life like that? Why can’t I be them?’ Then they start up the abuse. It started out as a great thing, now it is becoming really bad for people. We are inviting all types of d*ckheads into our front rooms.
“Some of these young fighters put so much on there about themselves, how great they are, and they take a massive fall when they get beat. It makes it even worse for them. The problem is that it isn’t real, but people think it is and you could take some of the stuff that gets said to heart.”