By Daniel Vano
Edinburgh’s John Thain returns to action on December 8th at the Meadowbank Sports Centre, looking to improve on his unbeaten record. The popular Light Middleweight (8-0) will fight for the first time since featuring on the undercard of Ricky Burns’ successful title defence against Englishmen Kevin Mitchell at the SECC in Glasgow. Although his opponent is yet to be confirmed, Thain is relishing the opportunity nonetheless.
“It will be the first time I have boxed in my hometown as a pro, so for me it’s a special night,” he said.
Thain, 25, is one of a host of prospects promoted by Frank Warren, and is always looking to improve his in his skills.
“An average day for me through the week would be spent usually in the boxing gym training’ he said. ‘I'm quite lucky as it's a great place to be, real good people. I prefer to train in the afternoon so I can rest up later on.”
“I try to train all year round even if there's no fights scheduled, to stay in shape and keep improving,” he continued. “There's always something to work on. I've been known to come straight back in to train on the Monday after fights, but it's probably more to see everyone in the gym.”
The Scotsman, who is looking for a sponsor to allow him to train full time, is well known to viewers of BoxNation. The channel, which allows prospects to showcase their skills to a wider audience, has allowed fans to see Thain’s development. But while the TV cameras can heap added pressure on a young boxer coming through the ranks, Thain thrives on the bigger stage.
“The camera can add pressure because you know there are more people watching and you want to put on a good show and not embarrass yourself!” he joked. “But I remember being more thrilled and excited than afraid when I was told I was boxing live for the first time. I aim to entertain the crowd and for them to enjoy my fights. So I welcome the move as prospects can build a following and raise their profile, which is good for boxing.”
However, things didn’t go according to plan in his last fight, as Thain was made to work harder than expected by Barnsley’s Lee Noble, who managed to bloody the nose of the unbeaten man.
“It was great to be part of the show at the SECC and to experience the atmosphere’ he said. ‘But it was a tough fight for me, and I was able to learn a few things, and I know a bit more about myself.
“I know I can dig deep and fight through the pain if I have to as I hurt both hand early on in the contest’ he stated. ‘I also realised the importance of knowing where to place my punches. It was a good learning fight.”
Led by WBO World Lightweight Champion Ricky Burns, Scottish boxing is flourishing of late. The likes of British Champion Kenny Anderson and Celtic Champion John Simpson have helped popularise the sport north of the border, and Thain is inspired by his fellow countrymen.
“It's a good time to be a Scottish boxer,” he said. “Ricky Burns' journey has been inspiring, and he absolutely deserves his success. People will think he's come from nowhere but its years of hard work that's got him there.’
The likeable Edinburgh native, however, looks back to the greats of British boxing for his inspiration.
“The Scottish boxer I have always looked up to the most is Ken Buchanan,” he said. “The first time I went to the Wild Card Gym in LA, Ken travelled with us, and everyone there wanted to meet him. He's Freddie Roach's favourite fighter. It's been brilliant to be able to ask for Ken's advice when he comes to the Lochend Gym as he's done it all. He also still hits the bags!”
John Thain isn’t your regular Scottish fighter. Despite being proud of where he is from, he is also proud of his Filipino roots, and hopes to one day fight in the country of his mother’s birth.
He said: “I'd love to box in the Philippines in the future. I went there for a family holiday in 2006 to Cebu and even did a little training. Plus it would give my Mum's side of the family a chance to watch me box in front of them. It's certainly a box I'd like to tick!”
While fighting in the Philippines may be some way off, Thain is steadily improving, and feels he will soon be able to mix with the best 154lb fighters in the country.
“This time next year I want to have won my first pro title.” he said. “I know that there's a tough time ahead so I aim to keep improving with each fight and climbing the ladder, one fight at a time.”
“I've really got a great trainer in Terry McCormack who puts so much time and work in for the benefit of all us boxers at the gym. He's there from morning until night and even at weekends. Eric Brown is always there for each one of us too. So it would be great to repay Terry and Eric by winning a championship because I feel like I owe them everything.”
The domestic Light Middleweight scene is a congested one. While British Champion Brian Rose has cemented himself as the best in the country, leading contenders Sam Webb and ex-titlist Prince Aaron have been joined by Prizefighter winner Larry Ekundayo, and all will soon be vying for Lonsdale honours. It may not be long before John Thain’s name is added to the list of challengers.