By Terence Dooley
Edinburgh’s Kenny Anderson finally gets his long-awaited British super middleweight title shot when meeting Runcorn’s Robin Reid in Sheffield on Saturday night for the title vacated by former champion George Groves. Anderson and Reid vie for the belt at the city’s Motorpoint Arena before the Sky TV cameras on the undercard of Kell Brook versus Hector David Saldivia, which is promoted by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports.
Anderson, 17-1 (12), became the mandatory challenger last November, but Groves’s injury misfortune pushed the fight back and then nixed it completely, leaving former WBC titlist Reid in the frame for a fight with Anderson.
“I’m just having a bit of dinner, relaxing and looking forward to tomorrow,” said Anderson when speaking over the phone to BoxingScene on Friday. “There’s no resentment in there at all over the time it took. You’ve got to carve a path through whatever’s put in front of you when it comes to the British title, and time’s one of the paths that’s been put there in front of me. I’ve been waiting, but we’ve put the time to good use to do conditioning and strength work over the years — it has made me the fighter I am today, and will be tomorrow.”
“It is good that he’s fired up,” his response to our recent interview with Reid’s trainer Pat Barrett, who thinks Reid is going to roll back the years on Saturday. “You’d expect that from someone like Robin because he’s fought for a world title and this British belt is a very good title in my opinion, and I’m sure it is in his. I don’t care if he’s fired-up, subdued, on form or past it — it doesn’t matter which Robin Reid turns up. I will be too much for him, I’m bringing too much for the table for even the best Robin Reid. He may be fired-up, but the reality is that when he gets in the ring with me, and realizes what’s he’s dealing with, then he’ll realizes that what he has won’t be enough and the reality will come to him about the task ahead of him.
“I don’t focus on other fighters, I focus on myself, but you can’t help but have an extra bit of time for someone like Robin and the achievements and danger he brings. I find it silly that people ask if I’m taking him lightly or looking past him. I’ve not mentioned any other names because I’m taking this guy deadly serious — he is the only person in my mind. This is the biggest fight on my life, the condition I’m in and the way that I box tomorrow will prove that.”
Many pundits expect Reid to turn Anderson’s aggression and pressuring style into his biggest ally. The “Grim Reaper” still has a big right hand and an eye for counter punches; Wayne Reed recently floored Anderson after walking him onto a shot in the first round of their April 14 meeting in Scotland. Anderson, though, recovered and forced Reed to retire in the third, he knows that Reid will be looking to land a home run punch and is prepared to mix things up should his tactics lead him right into Reid’s hands.
“Aye, we always look at different scenarios because Kevin is a brilliant tactician with a brilliant boxing brain, he is very meticulous and it has been very well done,” he said. “We’ve been over what works and what doesn’t, we’ve got a Plan A, B, C and D, and more, we’re not as one-dimensional as some people think, but if we’ve got a winning format to start with then we’re not going to change that. Robin has got his own plan to play, but we would never just go in with the mindset that it is going to be this or that — anything can happen on the night.”
Perceptions of Anderson have been split in recent months, with some arguing that he has gone from being underrated to overrated in the space of a year. Unsurprisingly, the 29-year-old 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medalist does not give much thought to how he is perceived by boxing fans.
“A lot of people are overrated and underrated, I’ve not heard many people say I’m overrated, people have said good stuff about me, but I genuinely don’t care if people say I am overrated,” he said. “I haven’t got much time for what people say because I control my own destiny on the night. What people say doesn’t count for anything — I know what I am and what I’ve got. If you get caught up with what people think or say then you are left wanting. I’m confident in my abilities. What people say on different medias means nothing to me.”
Despite a calm, respectful build-up in which both men have praised the other, Anderson is now starting to feel gnarly. A self-confessed confrontational character, the Scottish contender is starting to get angry, very angry.
“I felt good,” said Anderson. “We had a press conference on Tuesday and it was very civil, as I will always be, but it is hard not have a degree of hostility to him today because that’s just my nature. I’m a bit hostile, so it got a bit heated today, but there’s a time and place for hostility, and that will be in the ring tomorrow night, where it will be put to good use. I’ve got respect for him as a fighter, but obviously I know that as nice a guy as you are I want to beat you on the night, that’s just in my nature. The other guy wants to hurt you; he wants to take away everything you’ve worked hard for, so you are hostile towards a guy like that no matter how nice he or I am. It is not disrespectful for me to want to beat the other guy. It is what carries me through my fights and has carried me for so long in my boxing career.”
Anderson’s nickname is “The Widowmaker”. Reid, 42-7-1 (29), has been known as “The Grim Reaper” throughout his boxing career. They are hardly the most politically correct monikers doing the rounds. Then again, this is hardly a PC sport.
“It shows you the sport that we’re in that these names are out there,” Anderson’s take on the “Battle of the ring names”. “I’m not a nice guy, I’m not pleasant, and I’m not a guy that you want to be having a fight with. Robin isn’t the type of guy you want to be taunting, either, because we’re fighters and my main ambition tomorrow is to hurt Robin. I am going out there with malice. I hope it is in his mind as well because it is in my mind and is what will be happening — that’s what the sport is all about. It is not about politically correct nicknames.”
Kevin Maree has trained Anderson since 2009. The Lancashire-based coach believes that his man is at his peak and will prove he is the real deal by beating the 41-year-old former world champion.
“We had the weigh-in and it is the best Kenny’s ever looked in training camp since we’ve been together,” said Maree. “Kenny will get a test tomorrow night. I put on after dinner speaking where fighters talk about their careers, and I did one with Robbie Reid, so that shows you how highly I think of him. I know him very well, I know all about him and we’re up for it.
“Robin has beaten people in the top ten like (Wayne) Reed and (Daniel) Cadman, so a former world champion coming back and beating two guys in the top ten warrants a title. It is just nice and refreshing to have a professional build-up, that’s what we wanted. I know Robbie looks after himself. I am sure it will be a big fight from both. Robin’s looked great. He’s a proud guy who looked great today, so all respect to him.”
Anderson had a war with George Groves for the Londoner’s Commonwealth belt in November 2010. Groves was floored in the third-round only to bounce back to register a hard-fought sixth-round TKO win. The wait for another title shot has been excruciating for Maree and Anderson, but the Lonsdale belt, should they win it, will make it worth the wait.
“It has been a horrible wait,” he said. “People keep saying that it is a year, but we have been waiting since I started training Kenny as it was always our goal. We’ve come a long way to get here. A couple of years ago, we were sat down with no managers, no promoters or anyone else, we were up in Scotland, Paul David had pulled out (of a fight in January 2010) and we were pretty much told to get the last train home. No word of the next fight, nothing, and that happened quite a few times, but perseverance kept us going to this point. We feel fantastic knowing there’s now just a short wait for something that’s been a long time coming.”
Follow this link to Read Pat Barrett and Thomas McDonagh’s thoughts on the fight: http://www.boxingscene.com/barrett-mcdonagh-tab-robin-reid-shock-k-anderson--58237
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