IT was never going to be easy. But Samuel Antwi surely didn’t think it would be this hard. The welterweight has been boxing predominately from the away corner while amassing his 10-1 record and winning the Southern Area title. But the going has been tough. He’s had to deal with everything; the wrong gloves, changing room shenanigans, being handed a contagious baby in Zimbabwe. But he’s persisted.
“They’ll do anything they can do,” he reflects of life boxing out of the away corner. “They try to make you as uncomfortable as they can. So whatever they can do on the night to take you out of your psyche they’ll do it. They’ll tell you to get here at this time and then they’ll change it on the day. Do something like throw a bunch of people in your changing room, just to get you out of your cycle, to get you out of your fight… They end up switching the room.”
When Antwi speaks to Boxing News he is nursing an injury from having to fight with the wrong gloves. They didn’t fit his hands and as he landed punches, he began to hurt his fists.
“I tried to get them to change the gloves a couple of times,” he said. “Eventually they changed one glove and that’s the glove my wrist went on. We still got the win that’s the main thing.
“It was just getting injuries in the fight so from about the second or third round I was feeling my wrist playing up in the gloves. Both of my knuckles. He’s got a really hard head so every time I hit him clean, I would feel it instantly in my hand. I’d wince from pain. So I didn’t really get to follow up when I had him shaken. I couldn’t really follow up how I wanted to follow up. It was still a good fight.”
Recently he has beaten Siar Ozgul at York Hall, though he was unable to defend his Southern Area welterweight title. He hadn’t had quite enough time to lose a final pound for the weigh in.
It was by no means Antwi’s hardest outing in boxing. On his record you will see a two round loss to Emmany Kalombo in Harare a year ago. But this expedition was far from straight forward. From being unable to get the right food at their hotel, to the cutsman provided by the promoter vanishing halfway through their ringwalk. The opponent got to weigh in late, their hosts insisted that the boxers go on a safari and visit an orphanage in the week of the fight. At the orphanage Sam was handed a baby to hold. By the time he got back to his hotel he was sick and vomiting. The stoppage in the fight itself is not indicative of Antwi’s ability.
“It was probably the worst experience of my life. They really done us dirty out there. Anything they could have done to take us out the game they’ve done,” he said.
“Literally the worst experience that I could have probably.”
He continues, “I had to rebuild my career after Zimbabwe. I had to come back, fight [and beat] Jez Smith, fight this guy. These are 50-50 fights on paper and I’m in the away corner. So I’m taking challenges.”
‘I’ve been the dark horse most of my life. I’ll focus on what I’m doing. And just pop out of nowhere’
He has been on a journey in his boxing career. He’s previously boxed in Ghana and had his first three professional bouts in America, while enjoying some guidance from James Toney. “I was in the [amateur] Development championships and at the same time Prizefighter was going on. James Toney was here in the London,” Antwi explained.
“My coach at the time, he was driving around James Toney. He got him to come to one of the fights before the finals and just have a look at me so they had a look at me and said when you’re ready to turn pro just come over to the States.
“We won the championships and we went straight to LA. Trained in the gym with him so it was a good experience.”
He’s sparred plenty of talented UK boxers, including Chris Eubank Jnr and Conor Benn. The latter would be an appealing fight. “He gets a lot of opportunities, his name helps him a lot. There’s only so much time before you have to prove yourself and he’s getting close to that time,” Antwi notes ominously.
“There’s only a certain amount of time you can ride that train before you have to prove yourself.”
His own passage through the sport provides a telling contrast. “Nothing’s been handed to me,” Antwi says. “It’s just being stubborn, whatever’s going on I don’t really care.
“I’ve been the dark horse most of my life. I’ll focus on what I’m doing. And just pop out of nowhere.”
Antwi will be in action later on this month, on July 27 at York Hall.