FIGHTS fall apart all the time. It’s part and parcel of the fight game. There are injuries, better financial gain or on the advice of the management team. Fighters will fight anyone, but sometimes the best laid plans don’t always materialise.
The British Boxing Board of Control send out notices every month for upcoming title fights. The phrase “withdrew from the above contest” comes up fairly regularly, but few more often than with Ibstock super-featherweight Sam Bowen, who must be sick of seeing the phrase next to his name.
Bowen has been the mandatory for the English title over a year. He has been called for eliminator’s on a monthly basis, yet no less than five fighters have withdrawn from negotiations with “The Bullet” in the past year, a source of major frustration for a talented fighter trying to make his way without the help of a TV deal.
The 25-year-old has progressed to 11-0, 8KO’s and is wanting to test himself at a higher level. Yet, despite all the efforts of his manager Carl Greaves, securing a fight is becoming desperate for the formerly highly touted amateur.
Bowen told Boxing News: “It’s extremely frustrating. The latest one is Craig Poxton, who I’ve been training solidly for and before that it was George Jupp, who has challenged for the Interim world title. It’s hard because you have to start again and waste the effort you’ve put into training for that specific opponent.
“Carl is hopeful that I might get put forward for the British title now, as the English simply isn’t happening, but that’s obviously dependent on Martin J Ward and whether he vacates the title or not. I’m hopeful that I’ll finally get a willing opponent and fight for a title in the next couple of fights.
“I’m at the stage now that I need hard fights and not someone who is going to fold in one or two rounds when I catch them. Maybe if I was being televised it would be a lot easier, but I’m doing everything I can, as is Carl. It’s a matter of time and when I get that shot then I’ll be off, but it’s so hard when people are withdrawing all the time.”
Greaves, a former British title challenger in his own right, has built up a steady reputation as a promoter and manager at all levels of the sport. Yet he remains mystified as to why Bowen is unable to secure a fight.
He said, “This has been happening to Sam since he was looking to win the Midlands Area title. The original plan was to win the Area then go up to English, before getting an opportunity to win the British title when he was ready.
“So we got him a shot for the Midlands at lightweight with Marcus Ffrench, who withdrew, then we stepped down to super-feather for Troy James, who vacated. This was the first time the clash with Zelfa Barrett was called, which would have been a showcase fight for both of them, but he pulled out.
“Frank Warren was willing to put on that fight and Jason McClory rang us to do the deal without going to purse bids, but they were unaware that Steve Wood had already pulled Zelfa out. Chris Conwell was then going to step in, but he got injured and then it was Michael Devine, who didn’t fancy it. It’s been a long slog so far with Sam and the Board must be as sick as us at seeing people withdraw, rather than fight him.”
In Bowen’s last fight, he demolished former world champion Lorenzo Parra inside a round, dropping him four times before the referee saved the Venezuelan from more punishment. In a familiar story, Greaves had brought him over for a test, however “The Bullet” was in an unforgiving mood.
One aspect of modern boxing is seeing fights made over social media, something that Bowen does not actively participate in as it “bores him to tears”. He does admit though that his relationship with Greaves is growing stronger, despite the regular disappointment.
He added, “I’m a very private person and don’t use social media much, expect to sell tickets, as I’ve got better things to do with my life. So I don’t shout anyone out, which I probably should, unlike that idiot Ohara Davies, who ran his mouth and was beaten badly.
“Despite everything, my relationship with Carl is getting stronger and suits me perfectly. I had a fantastic experience in the amateurs and it was recommended that I go to Carl, as he isn’t strict and on your case all the time. We’ve known each other three years now and get on like a house on fire.”
Greaves added that when he was offered the chance to work with Bowen, he jumped at the chance, but confirmed that without a TV deal it has been hard to manoeuvre him up the ladder towards title contention and champion status.
The Newark manager believes that the way Bowen is putting away his opponents is putting people off, going back to his amateur days. He is resigned to the fact that he is having to fast-track his man, but is confident that Bowen has all the tools to fulfil his potential.
“I’ve never worked with someone with his pedigree straight from the off. I’ve had British champions and a world champion in David Avanesyan, but I truly believe he is one of the most talented fighters that I’ve ever been involved with.
“He’s so easy to train, as he’s a fitness fanatic, but very strong with it. He’s not the most technical, but his will to win and massive heart overcomes that. I didn’t want to fast-track him, I wanted him to have got the distance under his belt, before hitting this level, but I’ll not be able to do that.
“But, I have no worries whatsoever with Sam, as he’s a great fighter and will go very far. Bringing him right from the bottom will be a massive achievement, that I will be incredibly proud of, as he’s a pleasure to work with. He just needs one shot and then it will be difficult to hold him back. When it does happen, keep an eye on him, as it’s going to be an amazing journey.”