By John Evans
As boxing weight class names go, cruiserweight takes some beating. Look up the word ‘cruiser’ in the Oxford English Dictionary and the result gets the pulse racing;
Cruiser - noun
1 a relatively fast warship larger than a destroyer and less heavily armed than a battleship.
A boxing weight class named after agile, armed war machines! Surely the division is packed with quick, powerful fighters engaging in exciting battles? Well………
The word ‘cruise’ on the other hand conjures up an entirely different image, one of long, lazy days spent drifting along aimlessly. Sadly for British fight fans the domestic 200lb division seems to have done its best to live up (or down?) to the more peaceful scenario in recent years.
Thankfully, one man has set his targets on disrupting that placid scene. Blackpool’s Matty Askin began the year as one of Sky Sports ’11 for 2011’ and has continued to improve and impress in equal measure. Now unbeaten in 12 starts with 8 early finishes, Hatton Promotions fighter Askin has seen both his profile and ranking rise this year. He claimed his first professional title when beating the previously unbeaten Neil Dawson for the central area belt in March and his fights have been screened on a variety of channels.
“I'm very happy with my performances and the way the year has gone” said the 22 year old when talking to BoxingScene.com. “I could have maybe had a couple more fights as three a year isn't enough but I seem to be getting a lot more exposure which is great and after being on Eurosport I had a few people from different countries sending me emails which was good”.
Askins latest victory came against the vastly more experienced Czech Roman Kracik. Performing in front of a live national audience on Sky Sports, the 2008 ABA champion dominated from the outset, picked his shots well and stopped his man with a right uppercut to the nose in the third round. Although he was forced to eat a couple of sharp counters in the second, it was generally one way traffic.
“I don't know if it was my best performance but it was the definitely the most relaxed I've felt in the ring” said the 6ft 4in tall Askin. “I've watched the fight back and there's of couple minor things I need to work on and will get them done when back in the gym with Bob (Shannon, Askins trainer)”.
There may not be much time to iron out the wrinkles. The paucity of talent amongst the domestic ranks coupled with Askin’s swift progress means that he can expect some kind of title shot in the early part of 2012. Far from being apprehensive about his shot possibly coming reasonably early in his career, Askin is relishing the opportunity to meet the best the division may have to offer.
“The domestic scene at the minute is wide open and especially for someone like me that's entertaining and makes fights interesting” he states confidently. “I feel I could do quite well and pick up a few titles. I think my style is enjoyable to watch, I throw good shots and I can also dig a bit so it will always be exciting watching me”.
Yes, that’s correct. You just read the word exciting in an article about a British cruiserweight. With Ola Afolabi having long departed these shores and Enzo Maccarinelli dropping to light heavyweight, the British rankings have long been inhabited by the likes of new British champion Leon Williams, veteran Terry Dunstan and long time domestic king Rob Norton. Whilst all are decent accomplished pros, none set the pulse racing. The recent British title fight between Williams and Norton was a major disappointment and Askin isn’t shy about stating his intentions.
“If I'm honest domestically in Britain there isn't a lot out there but there are fights that I will have to have to prove that I'm the best. The Williams v Norton fight was pathetic and I think anyone that watched it would agree. I just hope I get that British title shot early next year” he says.
Hatton Promotions seem to be a growing force. Ryan Rhodes and Matthew Hatton have both found themselves in big fights recently and middleweight Martin Murray is the next to step up when he travels to Germany in December to take on Felix Sturm. The link up with Germany could be a good sign for Askin, whilst cruiserweights are struggling in the UK, they are big business on the continent and a few impressive victories could see him move quickly.
“I never look beyond the next fight and for now, the British is what’s in my sights. If the chance comes along to fight for an even bigger title then I would grab that opportunity with both hands” he says. ”For a cruiserweight, Germany is the place to be. They always have a lot of cruiserweights fighting over there and its where all the big cruiserweight fights take place. I admire Steve Cunningham. He always boxes well and always comes away from America to fight in Germany which is brave and always a hard thing to do”.
The country is crying out for one of the cruiserweights to unleash their heavy artillery and grab the public’s imagination. Maybe ‘The Assassin’ from Lancashire will prove to be the one to command and conquer his rivals.