By Kim Francesca Martinez
With the bombastic antics perpetuated by one Adrien Broner (now considered by some in the boxing community as the poor man’s Floyd), his predecessor serving jail time for domestic abuse, and the recent PED epidemic that has infected the integrity of the sport, one thing remains clear: boxing needs more good guys.
The first time undefeated light welterweight prospect Chris “The Flash” Evangelou (9-0, 1 KO) pinged my radar, a text message alert distracted me from a viewing of his April 2010 bout against Marius Jasutis. No sooner had I glanced at my mobile than the commentator cried knockout—0:39 seconds into the opening round. ‘The Flash,’ indeed.
Evangelou’s ring moniker, though justified as much by his marquee-idol good looks as the blinding hand speed that dispatched Jasutis and ensured his third pro victory, seems at odds with the fighter’s strikingly humble demeanor.
In a Skype interview, the Enfield-based boxer reveals what he hopes to accomplish on Sept. 8 – which marks Evangelou’s pursuit of his tenth career win and first professional title on a card headlined by Matchroom stablemate “Dazzling” Darren Barker – and beyond.
Discussing recent controversies (the gratuitous vitriol leading up to Haye-Chisora, for example), Evangelou is contemplativc:
“I speak the way I fight… I don’t have to trash talk my opponent, we’re having a fight anyway; the fans don’t need to see us cussing each other. Oscar De La Hoya, the way [he’d refrain from badmouthing opposition] has always inspired me… I just want to be a good role model in that sense.”
Though he credits the former multi-division world champion and namesake of Golden Boy Promotions for informing his sense of sportsmanship, it is Evangelou’s family, who are of Greek descent, that he cites for inspiring his dedication, both in the ring and out.
“They are the reason I work as hard as I do,” affirms Evangelou.
200 thousand punches; 250 thousand skips; 5,000 sit-ups; and 2,500 push-ups.
Even amidst a grueling training schedule (which will, incidentally, bring him to the Mayweathers’ Las Vegas gym in coming weeks), Evangelou and his local boxing club, under the helm of older brother Andreas, a light heavyweight with four professional wins to his name, fulfilled the physically demanding quota to raise funds for a number of causes—Community Heart [a local outreach program aimed towards disadvantaged youth], cancer research, and children affected by hormone drug testing among them.
Evangelou tells me about his family’s longtime involvement with charitable work and quietly shares that his aunt has recently achieved remission from breast cancer (“…that was a massive, big, big deal for us.”). He recounts, too, his experience at London’s Wireless Festival, headlined by recording artist Drake.
“When I saw Drake walking out, and 70 thousand people were in awe of him… I thought to myself, ‘I can’t wait to be that big… to walk out of the airport at Cypress or in Britain and have an entire nation there waiting for me when I bring back the title.’ There’s lot in the world that I’d love to change, and with world titles and fame, you have more of an influence. It really does spur me on; it really makes me train a lot harder, because I badly want to get there.”
Despite envisioning success at the world level, the 26-year-old Evangelou – who began his amateur boxing career at 17; his professional one at 23 – is firmly fixed on the challenge in front of him.
“This is the biggest fight of my life so far,” says Evangelou of his pending contest with Danny “Cassius” Connor (who has won six of his last seven bouts), for the vacant Southern Area Title. “I have been training 10 years for it, not six or eight weeks, or ten weeks. I’ve been training my whole life for this one fight.”
It would be a welcome change, in a sport rife with self-made villains, for an everyday hero to prevail. Already a huge draw on home territory, Evangelou has managed to sell £10,000 worth of tickets for his next bout inside of 4 days. Come Sept. 8, fight fans in attendance at London’s Alexandra Palace will see if ‘The Flash’ – the latest in Eddie Hearns’ stable of seeming superhumans (‘The Cobra,’ ‘The Jackal,’ ‘Special K,’ et al.) – can emerge victorious.
“I’m trying to be something a bit different in the sport… it’s about time someone stepped forward… and shows that the sport can be for the good guys as well.”Tags: Chris Evangelou