BN: How would you assess you career development so far?
SN: I’ve still got a little bit of learning to do, I’m not the best I can be. There are still little areas to improve and boxes to tick. I’ve not been much past five rounds, not that fitness will ever be a worry, but you can’t buy that experience. Being in a tough fight, 10 rounds deep, 12 rounds deep, are boxes that are going to have to be ticked at some stage before I push on to bigger and better things.
BN: How would you say you’ve evolved not just as a fighter but as a man as well?
SN: Massively. I was like a rabbit in headlights on my debut, all I can remember is the walkout because it was all new to me. Now it’s become the norm and I’ve developed into it well. I’m getting used to how the boxing world and the politics work. I’ve been blessed with a good career so far and I want it to keep getting better and better.
BN: Your fight against Shaun Cooper went into the ninth round, the first time you’d went past five rounds, so how did that feel?
SN: With that fight I jumped from six rounds to 10 and it was in the back of my mind. I made that fight last longer than it needed to really. I remember the fifth round and I kept throwing jabs and they kept landing, but I didn’t put pressure on. After that fight, and because I went that deep, I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh god, I went nearly 10 rounds’. It was just another fight. That was a good stepping-stone for me.
BN: You’ve showed you can pack a punch and can end fights with a variety of shots. Is it natural power or something you’ve worked on?
SN: I feel like it is natural. You can try and pinpoint it to something, but I’ve wanted to lift heavier or do more. I’ve always got that urge and desire to be the strongest that I can be and more powerful. Everyone used to hit their dad’s hand when they were younger and I remember thinking, ‘I’m gonna really try and hurt him with this right hand’. I must have been eight or younger. I remember him holding his hands, me wellying it and getting a good slap on it and he’s like ‘Yeah, we ain’t gonna do that no more’. My brother as well and even my sister can pack a punch. I’ve been in manual labour since I was a young age so it might have had an impact, but I think sometimes you’re blessed with it or you’re not.
BN: How much does the sport mean to the Noakes family?
SN: It’s been a big part of our leaves for 13-15 years; Sean started a couple of years before me. If boxing was to suddenly up and disappear there would be a big void and emptiness in my life. As much as we all moan about it, boxing is now my life. Everything I do is based around it, even eating. I don’t eat full English fry-ups no more. I’ve had it drummed into me that it’s not good to keep those dirty calories on. I do indulge a bit, but you think, ‘Do I need to do that, it’s only gonna be harder in camp’.
BN: What was the experience of being a roofer like, and do you have any standout memories?
SN: I left school and went into college, worked at McDonald’s dropped out of that, done a call centre job dropped out of that and then at college I did sports science and didn’t really like that. Then I went into do electrical and then someone offered me £70 a day cash, I was only 16, and I thought, ‘Cor, £70 a day that’s unbelievable’. I quit college and got to working. We started off doing flat roofing and then I ended up going into pitch roofing and my best pal’s dad owns the firm, so I jumped in with that. I was done by three o’clock every day so I could go straight to the gym. Looking back, it worked out. I’ve always worked with a good group of boys, when you go on to building sites, they’re all proper people. I still pop back even now and I do like doing it. I don’t like working in the rain but when the sun’s shining it’s lovely.
BN: Is that type of work ethic something that is important to you?
SN: You’ve gotta wanna work hard. And that’s another reason why I like going in and doing it. It keeps you grounded, and I do enjoy being in that work environment and have banter with the boys, it’s just who I am as a person, and I don’t think that will ever leave.
BN: Your next fight is on the Zhang-Joyce II undercard; are you getting used to being a part of these big fight nights?
SN: I’ve been lucky because I’ve been on big heavyweight cards since my debut, but the thing I’ve gotta get used to is they actually want me up there. When I first started, they didn’t really want you on the presser days, media days, you’re sort of like background noise. Now I’ve got to go and do all the press conferences, the media days and that’s the thing you’ve gotta get used to not the pressure of boxing on a big card.
BN: There is a rivalry brewing between you and Mark Chamberlain. How did that all start or has that been born out of quotes and things said in interviews?
SN: I wouldn’t so much call it a rivalry, more of a collision course. We’re both two big hitters, both around the same age, similar records, same promoter, it’s too easy of a fight to make for it not to happen. It would be a very fan-friendly fight and I haven’t got a backward step in me.
BN: When could you see that fight possibly happening?
SN: He’ll tell you the same thing but I’d take it as my next fight, but it’s got to make business sense and I don’t think Frank [Warren] is going to be in a hurry to rush and make the fight. Whoever loses will go to the back of the queue. When that can be built up down the line we can meet for a bigger title. As I said I’ll fight him whenever he wants, whenever they want. I’m ready to do that. My coach would take it, and he’d [Mark] probably tell you the same thing and that’s not me being disrespectful to him but I’m not in this sport to duck people.
BN: When you look at the domestic lightweight division it looks like it’s there for someone to grab.
SN: Domestically, I think it is. When you look at the top boys, they’re all 33-34 and they’re good fighters who have done them hard, tough rounds but they won’t have too many fights left. Once they push on or retire it’s really open for us young guns to come through and grab it. I’m hoping to be one if not the one to do it.
BN: Where do you see yourself this time next year?
SN: I’d like to be British champion this time next year, maybe fighting for the European, I think that’d be perfect.
(Interview: Shaun Brown)