By John Hargate
The long-awaited showdown between former British cruiserweight champion Leon “Solid” Williams, and current Southern Area cruiserweight champion Tony “The Conqueror” Conquest, takes place at the York Hall in Bethnal Green on Saturday 7th July for the latter’s Southern Area title.
BoxingScene spoke to Tony Conquest, who revealed that his injuries are behind him, and that he is in perfect shape for this intriguing dust-up between friends in which niceties will play no part. The 27-year-old Conquest brings an undefeated 8-0 (2) record to the ring and is confident that he can add the man they call ‘Solid’ to his list of victims, despite a first round blow-out loss in the amateurs at the hands of Williams, 9-4 (4).
“I’m just approaching it like I would any other fight,” said a relaxed Conquest. “Leon is going to do what Leon always does. He’s going to come out and try and be the on-top fighter. He doesn’t care who’s in front of him – he’ll come out and try and knock’em out quick. So, for me, it’s about just switching on my boxing brain. I’ve boxed friends in the amateurs before, so that hasn’t really got a bearing on the fight what-so-ever.”
He continued: “People don’t give Leon a lot of credit. They say he’s one dimensional and he does the same thing over and over, but if you study him, turn the sound off and just watch what he does, he’s better than what people give him credit for.”
There have been rumours and rumblings on the notoriously unreliable boxing grapevine that Conquest had pulled out of two previously scheduled meetings with Williams, not because of injuries as Conquest had claimed, but rather because he didn’t fancy the job after his amateur knockout defeat.
Conquest laughed such suggestions off. “There’s no truth to that. I’m a fighter at the end of the day. I fight. That’s what I do. I get in the ring and fight - it doesn’t matter who I’m in against. I mean, I’ve lost other amateur fights, to real top amateurs and I’ve got right back in there with them and beaten them.”
Becoming serious for a moment, Tony eschewed the bluff and bravado exhibited by many fighters and spoke poignantly about the concept of fear inside the ring. “Obviously there’s fear in every fighter,” he said. “I’m scared of every fight. Everyone is, if you’re not you’re insane or there’s something wrong medically wrong with you.”
Turning the focus back again to the Williams fight, Conquest made a clear distinction between the general fear every fighter experiences, and the idea of being scared of a specific opponent. “There’s no fear factor here,” he stated forcefully. “I’ll get in there and do what I do every time.”
“It’s the right fight,” Tony enthused. “Perfect timing – despite us both being out of the ring for a good few months each. He’s obviously lost his last one [to Shane McPhilbin], but he’s a former Southern Area and British Champion. If I do a real good job here, and look good doing it, what’s in line next? I’m not looking past Leon, I mean I can’t do that, it’d be stupid to, but you never know what could be given to you next. Hopefully the winner of me and Leon will be straight in the mix.”
I asked if the injury problems that’d kept Tony out of the ring in recent times were fully behind him? “It was just unfortunate before. The first time I was meant to box him I can’t remember if it was my hand or my knee [Conquest has suffered injuries to both hands and had knee ligament damage in the past], and the second time I had a perfect opportunity at a shot at the British Title, and I got shingles. It’s actually scarred my face a little bit, so people saying I pulled out because I’m a bottle job or whatever, they can have a look at my face! I’m in perfect shape. No excuses, just fit and ready to fight.”
It is a crying shame that this cracking Olivia Goodwin promoted showdown is not being televised. During a fabulous weekend of British fights this could well turn out to be one of the best. Williams, from Streatham, is almost certain to come out of the traps fast and try and shake Conquest up, hoping to resurrect any lurking demons he may have from their amateur fight. If Tony can weather the storm, he ought to be able to jab and move from his switch-hitting stance, racking up points with his accurate left hand in particular. Conquest mustn’t allow himself to be drawn into a toe-to-toe battle, but if he can avoid that trap and stop Williams from setting himself - especially early doors - then I believe Conquest has enough about him to take the fight on the judge’s cards.
Tickets for this decent card, which includes the fascinating rematch between Thamesmead’s slick Nathan Wiese and Northolt’s hard-hitting Ryan Toms for the Southern Area light middleweight title, can be bought from: http://www.goodwinpromotions.co.uk/tickets.php?pageID=6