By Shaun Brown
The future of Scottish boxing may look bleak for those on the outside looking in and Willie Limond says patience will be needed before the next gem is unearthed.
The current British light-welterweight champion 38-4 (10 KOs), who has now vacated his Commonwealth strap, can hardly call himself one for the future at 35 years old but that doesn’t stop the Glaswegian feeling convinced that the next Ricky Burns isn’t a million miles away.
“There’s some crackers coming through, some good amateur boys,” Limond told BoxingScene.com.
“You want them to come through like a conveyor belt not gaps of 3-4 years. I don’t know if we’ve got that consistency right now but I reckon within the next five years there’ll be some crackers coming through, I honestly believe that.”
Limond is currently enjoying the fruits of a boxing Indian summer and hopes that a European title shot against current champion, Michele Di Rocco 37-1-1 (16 KOs) isn’t a million miles away. Some exposure in the Scottish press wouldn’t go a miss though. If Ricky Burns hasn’t been involved in a world title fight or Scott Harrison hasn’t been involved in any sort of fight then the media north of the border give little to no column inches.
“It’s bad,” said Limond of the coverage in his homeland.
“I’m down in London sparring people and boxing’s in the papers and when I fought in Mexico they were in your face constantly. Up in Scotland we’ve got a lot of talent and they don’t get exposure. It’s wrong. There was good fights on the (Burns-Zlaticanin) Braehead card; Kris Hughes beat Jon Slowey, David Brophy had a good fight, Mick Roberts had a good fight… there was plenty to talk about and nothing was mentioned. I know the World Cup was on but these guys should be getting highlighted. I won two belts, two solid belts… not two wee belts that have been made up. They’ve been going about for years. I’m not just talking about me anyway I’m on about all the fighters.
“Even after my victory (over Curtis Woodhouse) there was not a lot in the papers about me. Just wee bits. Ricky’s been doing brilliant for the last so many years so why do they then want to highlight the guy’s defeat? They built him up and they want to highlight his defeats all the time. And then there’s a wee side bit at the bottom saying Willie Limond won his belt (laughs). It’s typical. People are coming up to my Dad and phoning saying they never saw the fight and asking what happened. I don’t mind anyway. I know what I’ve done and long may it continue.”
After a 15-year professional career, the Scot who once shared a ring with Mexican legend Erik Morales now finds himself in the place of being the man chased rather than the man doing the chasing. Defeats to Amir Khan, Alex Arthur, Morales and a lacklustre loss against Anthony Crolla are all in the past. Limond may be the wrong side of 35 but goals are in place.
“I’d love a shot at the European title, that’s my main goal. I always thought the British was going to elude me my whole career. It wasn’t even the fact I’d been beat in both attempts it was the fact I hadn’t performed. I fought Alex Arthur and I just didn’t turn up. I fought Anthony Crolla and I didn’t do myself justice. I’m not saying I’d have beat those guys if I would’ve performed but for myself I had to perform against Woodhouse, I had to justify it to myself.”
BoxingScene asked the straight-talking Scot if the fight against Woodhouse - a former footballer turned British champion – was make or break for him.
“Definitely,” he replied. “Although I didn’t want to highlight it. I had it in my head ‘where do I go if I lose?’” I put myself under so much pressure that it made me train harder. It was an automatic response from myself because I put myself under that kind of pressure that I did perform and I had to perform and I’m glad I did.”
And what about his new found power that dropped Woodhouse in the 3rd and 11th rounds of their bout in June.
“I’ve always said this for years: I’m a late bloomer. I think now the power is there. I don’t go looking for it but I’m pretty accurate. I still wouldn’t say I’m a one-punch knockout specialist. I think I can hurt people with either hand. I’ve had people down but it was just the fact I wasn’t finishing people. Now I just seem to be hitting that wee bit harder.”
Like Woodhouse, the current British champion tried his hand at becoming a professional footballer as well as becoming a professional prizefighter. Woodhouse would go on to be the greater success turning out for the likes of Sheffield Utd, Birmingham City and Hull. Limond was left to ponder what might have been with the Scottish club, Albion Rovers.
“That was crazy,” he recalled. “I was playing for a wee team and a scout came up. I was just playing with my pals and the scout asked if I wanted to go for a trial with Albion Rovers. I did alright. So I played a reserve game against St Mirren and scored and then I was in the first time a week later. I was only 17! What happened with the football though… I was in the town and got into a fight and stabbed in the leg. Who knows, that might’ve been a blessing in disguise,” he laughed.
Shaun Brown is the UK Editor at Boxing Scene and a contributor to Boxing Monthly. He can be contacted at [email protected] with any news, views or stories you may have.
Read more from Willie Limond in the latest edition of Boxing Monthly, available in the app store and UK news stands now.