Heavyweight champ Reynolds just the ticket ahead of Belfast debut. Sligo parking warden and 5 time Irish champ turns pro at 39
Turning 39 most boxers have long since hung up their mitts and settled for a life of reminiscing on sepia-coloured past glories. However, former Irish international amateur star turned boxing coach, Stephen Reynolds, isn’t most boxers and is set to make his debut in the paid ranks on July 21 in Belfast.
A decade ago ‘Block’ Reynolds ranked amongst Europe's top amateur boxers, chalking up five Irish National titles at Super-heavyweight and Heavyweight between 1997 and 2001 and a Four Nations gold in 2001, beating England's David Dolan in the final. He also competed at the World Championships in 1999 and 2001 where he prepared alongside eventual silver medal winner David Haye.
Together with younger brother, Alan, who amassed a string of seven Irish senior titles, the pair seemed made for the professional game, stardom and the cash rewards that came with success. Whilst Haye, who was ranked number two in the division behind Reynolds at the time, went on to become a world champion and Pay-Per-View star, Reynolds retired from the sport taking up a vocation in coaching the sweet science to local youth whilst doubling up a Sligo Town’s first parking warden by day.
“It felt good being ranked so highly but I saw that as rewards for the hard work myself and Alan put in not a gateway to being snapped up by a big promoter. “
“That was all before the High Performance Team with the IABA started. They’ve a great set up now but I just missed that starting. Had it been in place when I was there then I am sure I would have been in the Olympics like Kenny Egan and the others.
“Lou Duva did offer to turn me professional back then. I was fighting in America at the Foxwoods Casino against Devin Vargas and Duva approached me after the bout and asked if I’d sign with him but I wasn’t interested.
“Maybe I felt I hadn’t the style for the pro ranks, I was used to the amateur code and fought for points, scoring against a target, it’s almost a different sport.” admitted Reynolds.
“Things are different now, it’s the best I’ve ever felt. I’m planting my feet and following through a lot harder with my punches.
“I’m not chasing money and that’s what makes me more dangerous, I’m having fun and seeking glory. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and I’m really enjoying training but this is no joke and a clear distinction needs to be made there,” said ‘Block’ sternly.
Reynolds was to make his debut on a bill is Roscommon earlier in the year but that fell through and he has now teamed up with Manchester-based Sligo manager Leonard Gunning who has secured the Ballinacarrow banger a debut slot on an Emerald Promotions bill alongside some of Belfast’s brightest prospect including Anthony Cacace, Ray Ginley and Paul Moffett on a card headlined by an Irish title fight between unbeaten Joe Hillerby and veteran scrapper Lee Murtagh.
"I haven’t stopped training since the last bout was cancelled. I've started my 6 week training camp now and focused on fight night. I’ve already at the targeted fight weight and the hungers back, it’s even easy to get up for those 5am runs," chuckled Reynolds with renewed confidence after losing two stone since Christmas.
“I know I haven’t got the time to build my record against cannon-fodder like younger lads. It’ll have to be a fast paced rollercoaster ride if I want to achieve my goals.
“Give me 4 or 5 quick fights against quality opposition and the Irish title. That’s the dream. But who knows, if I get knocked out in my first few fights then that won’t happen!” uttered Reynolds who is only too aware of the dangers and pitfalls in the professional ranks.
“My brother Alan is my main sparring partner but I’ve options in Limerick, Dublin or Belfast I can call on if I feel I need additional rounds before the fight.
“We won’t really know what we have until fight night and there’s no substitute for actually fighting. It could be over as quick as it began or it could be the start of something big. Either way it’ll be exciting and I’ll give all the fans that come to see me the night to remember.
“At 39 I’m still fresh because started boxing late so the miles aren’t on the clock as I looked after myself and kept training. I just want one more rattle at it. There are potentially some big fights on the Irish scene and I won’t be shying away from them. The likes of Darren Corbett and Conall Carmichael stand in my way to getting at Dublin’s Ian Tims and the Irish title but I can’t even think about them yet until I have my debut,” said Reynolds keen not to get too carried away before his opener.
“The reaction at home to the news that I’m finally making my pro debut was fantastic. I’ve been overwhelmed with the support and requests for tickets. It’s been a long time since Vinny Feeney retired and we’ve had no Sligo pro to cheers on since then but the bus load of fans coming up to support me will make it feel like a home tie I am sure. “
Tickets for Stephen’s debut at the Emerald Roadhouse, Belfast on Saturday, July 21 range from €19 standing, €30 seated and €48 ringside. Return bus from Sligo for just €10.
Tickets are available in Sligo from Barton Smith Sports, the Adelaide Casino and Ballinacarrow Boxing Club or in Belfast at Manny’s at 241 Antrim Road. Alternatively call 087 858 9369 or in the north call 075 35 267 641.
Follow Stephen on twitter at @BlockReynolds
NEW YORK -- Heavyweight championship boxing makes an EPIX return next month with America’s latest line of offense! World champions WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO and ALEXANDER POVETKIN will defend their titles on Saturday, July 7 and Saturday, July 14, respectively, and both fights will be televised live in the U.S. exclusively on EPIX, the multiplatform premium entertainment service. EpixHD.com will stream the fights live as part of a special free trial offer for boxing fans.
Klitschko, the World Boxing Association (WBA) Super heavyweight / International Boxing Federation (IBF) / World Boxing Organization (WBO) heavyweight champion, will battle top-rated contender TONY THOMPSON at Stade de Suisse, in Berne, Switzerland, in a rematch of their 2008 fight.
Povetkin will risk his undefeated record and WBA heavyweight crown against former two-time heavyweight champion and current No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger HASIM RAHMAN. The July 14 telecast will also feature an all-British heavyweight war between former two-division world champion DAVID HAYE and one-time heavyweight title challenger DEREK CHISORA for the vacant WBA Intercontinental heavyweight title. Both fights will take place in the West Ham Football Club's Boleyn Ground at Upton Park in London.
You don’t have to look any further than this press conference encounter to see where the bad blood began which led to the making of Haye vs. Chisora – check out the video on the EPIX YouTube page.
These six gladiators boast a combined record of 207-17-2 (163 KOs) – a 92% winning percentage and a 79% victory by knockout ratio.
As has become the custom, EPIX will once again present the closed-captioned simulcast of this world championship rumble on its jumbotron in Times Square in New York City (Broadway between 44th and 45th Sts.)
"Tony Thompson gave me one of my toughest fights when we fought the first time, back in 2008,” said Klitschko. “In this rematch, I will show the world that I have only gotten better and plan to successfully keep all of my titles. The soccer stadium in Berne is beautiful and this will be a great event with over 30,000 people in attendance. I always get so much energy when so many fans are in the large stadiums to watch me fight. This will be the sixth fight in a row that I have fought in a soccer stadium and I am happy that EPIX is broadcasting this event live in the US."
“I'm delighted that my fight against David Haye will be live on EPIX so that my fans in the US will get to see me knock him out,” added Chisora. “This is a huge fight in Europe and has taken over all the media coverage and will get bigger and bigger as we get closer to the night."
“EPIX is very pleased to continue its exclusive live U.S. telecasts of championship boxing. The fireworks displayed by the recent Froch vs. Bute super middleweight championship has continued to produce excitement for U.S.-based fight fans and audience growth for the EPIX Sports boxing series. It was the perfect follow-up to our unprecedented heavyweight championship trilogy, which featured Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin successfully defending their world titles over three consecutive weeks earlier this year. And here we are again with Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin once again defending their titles in consecutive weeks on EPIX,” said Travis Pomposello, EPIX CCO and executive producer of EPIX Sports.
Klitschko (57-3, 50 KOs), of Kiev, Ukraine, is a two-time world heavyweight champion. Wladimir began his first title reign in 2000 when he captured the WBO heavyweight title via a unanimous decision over defending champion Chris Byrd. Byrd suffered two knockdowns in that battle. Klitschko’s two-year title reign included five successful defenses – all by knockout – before losing the belt to Corrie Sanders in 2003. Klitschko returned to the world championship throne in 2006, this time as IBF champion, when he dethroned Chris Byrd in a title rematch. This victory was even more emphatic than the first one with Klitschko stopping Byrd in the seventh round. Since that fight, Klitschko has taken on and defeated all comers while unifying the title with victories over WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov, and WBA champion David Haye. He enters this fight riding an eight-year, 15-bout winning streak. His most recent victory was a fourth-round knockout of former two-time world champion Jean Marc Mormeck, on March 3, which was televised live to the U.S. by EPIX.
Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs), from Washington, D.C., is a power-punching southpaw who is ready to give Klitschko his Berne notice when they meet again for the title. Thompson earned his first world title shot with Klitschko by stringing together an eight-year, 27-bout winning streak, which featured victories over top-rated contenders Luan Krasniqi, Timur Ibragimov, Dominick Guinn, and Vaughn Bean. Though unsuccessful in his challenge of Klitschko, Thompson gained valuable experience and a hunger for another world title fight. Since losing to Klitschko in 2008, Thompson has returned to the top of the IBF ratings by winning his five subsequent fights – all by knockout – including stoppages of Chazz Witherspoon and Owen Beck.
Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs), of Russia, captured the vacant WBA heavyweight title last August, winning a gutsy unanimous decision over former WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev, who entered the fight as the No. 1-rated contender. Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, has an impressive resume which includes a knockout victory over former two-time heavyweight champion Chris Byrd, and unanimous decision victories over one-time heavyweight title challenger Eddie Chambers and former U.S. Olympians Jason Estrada and Larry Donald. Povetkin enters this fight having won four of his last seven bouts by knockout, including his December 3 title defense, an eighth-round stoppage of Cedric Boswell. Povetkin, who has had all of his heavyweight title fights televised live in the U.S. on EPIX, returns to the ring fresh from successfully defending his championship belt, via majority decision on February 25, against WBO cruiserweight Marco Huck, ending Huck’s four-year, 15-bout winning streak.
Rahman (50-7-2, 41 KOs), of Baltimore, MD, has fought nearly every notable heavyweight and is certainly no stranger to fighting for the world heavyweight championship. In fact, he is the last American to hold a heavyweight title belt. The highlight of his career came in 2001 when he knocked out defending champion Lennox Lewis in the fifth round to capture the heavyweight title. After losing the title in the immediate rematch later that year, Rahman was able to fight his way back into contention where he regained the WBC heavyweight title in 2005 via a unanimous decision over Monte Barrett. After losing the title to Oleg Maskaev in 2006 – the last time an American has ever worn a heavyweight champion belt – Rahman has won nine of his last 11 bouts, eight by knockout, with the lone blemishes being a TKO loss to heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2008 and a No Contest to three-division world champion James Toney.
Chisora (15-3, 9 KOs), of London, returns to the ring on the heels of his two most notable fights. Last December, in a fight that was televised live in the U.S. on EPIX, Chisora, an underdog fighting outside his native United Kingdom for the first time, out-boxed undefeated No. 1 heavyweight contender Robert Helenius over 12-rounds in his native Finland only to have the judges return a narrow split decision victory to Helenius to the outrage of fans and media alike. Based on that performance, Chisora, the former BBBoC British heavyweight champion and Commonwealth (British Empire) heavyweight champion earned a title shot with WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko on February 18, also televised live to the U.S. on EPIX. Though he lost a unanimous decision, it was the first time in nearly two years that Klitschko had been forced to go the distance. Chisora’s professional resume boasts consecutive knockout victories of Danny Williams and Sam Sexton, who had a combined record of 54-9 when he defeated them in 2010.
Haye (25-2, 23 KOs), of London, captured his first world title in 2007, knocking out defending WBC/WBA cruiserweight champion Jean Marc Mormeck in the seventh round. He added the WBO crown to his war chest in his first defense, a second-round pasting of Enzo Maccarinelli the following year. He vacated the titles to move up to the heavyweight division and in only second fight as a heavyweight dethroned WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev, via majority decision. He successfully defended the title twice, knocking out former two-time heavyweight champion John Ruiz and 2000 Olympic gold medalist and fellow countryman Audley Harrison in the ninth and third rounds, respectively, both in 2010. Haye lost the crown last July, losing a unanimous decision to Wladimir Klitschko in a title unification fight. Haye’s fight against Chisora will be his first since that loss.
CHISORA'S SPARRING PARTNER SAYS HAYE WILL BE STOPPED
Dereck Chisora's sparring partner says that he'll stop rival David Haye when they clash at West Ham United's ground on Saturday 14th July.
The heavy-handed Finchley star has brought over fast rising American prospect Joe Hanks for three weeks' sparring at his gym to prepare for Haye.
Haye v Chisora's WBO/WBA International Heavyweight title fight is live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).
Hanks, known as "The Future", is unbeaten in 20 fights with 14 knockouts and has previously sparred with the Klitschko brothers, Sultan Ibragimov, Chris Byrd and Jameel McCline.
At 6ft 4in, with fast hands and feet and a big punch, he has similar attributes to former world champion Haye.
Hanks says with the way that Chisora is punching he can't see the Hayemaker lasting.
"I've seen Haye, he's very crafty and fast with a very similar style to mine and that's what we've been working on with Dereck in the gym," Said Hanks.
"By the time the fight comes I will have racked up about 60 rounds with him over three weeks and they are really good, hard spars between two young hungry fighters,"
"I've sparred with Klitschkos, Ibragimov, Byrd and many other leading heavyweights and Dereck is up with those guys,"
"Watching Dereck prepare for the fight, he's really focussed and determined to beat Haye,"
"I fancy him strongly to win. Haye's very clever, but Dereck's got all the tools to win and certainly the punch and power to get to him."
Although Hanks finishes with Chisora in early July he will be watching the fight live at home in New Jersey with confirmation that the fight will be covered live in America by EPIX.
He added, "It's a shame that I won't be at the fight to see Dereck win after all the hard work and preparation he has put in, but it's fantastic that EPIX will be televising the fight over here and I'll be watching."
Haye v Chisora is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Tickets for Licensed to Thrill are available from Eventim at www.eventim.co.uk or 0844 249 1000, Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.co.uk or 0844 844 0444 and West Ham United at www.whufc.com or 0871 222 2700.