By Shaun Brown
A bad defeat, a controversial win or in Rocky Fielding’s case a problem with making the 168lb limit. Sometimes a kick up the backside is what a fighter needs. The need to atone for a basic mistake. A wake-up call for said boxer and his team that some things need to change.
The 26 year olds first appearance of 2014, against Charles Adamu in March, came with some unwanted baggage of his own. First, a sparring injury to his right hand on the Thursday of the week before the fight. Something he would keep to himself for five days before going to see a Doctor. Second, a change of opponent at short notice, and third the pressure of having sold 900 tickets. 900 promises that he didn’t want to break. All of this would see the super middleweight fail the 12st limit and put the vacant Commonwealth title on the line for his opponent only.
“I knew I’d get a bit of stick. I didn’t do it purposely,” Fielding 18-0 (10 KOs) told ‘Scene eight days out from his 19th fight against Noe Gonzalez Acoba at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
The Liverpudlian added that a late pull-out from fellow Scouser, Tony Dodson, didn’t help matters.
“There was things like (original opponent) Tony Dodson pulling out with a week and a half to go,” he recalled.
“But he didn’t tell no-one. I found out from someone off the streets so I had to tell [promoter] Eddie [Hearn]. So Eddie texted back saying he had pulled out. He comes back with ‘Wanna fight Tobias Webb?’ ‘No, not really,’ I said because I’d already beat Webb. I said to him to get me another title fight but with a week to go I was like ‘Get me a ten rounder, just get me out there’. Then it was Adamu for the Commonwealth.”
All in all it was a sorry end to his preparations but he did have the silver linings of beating Adamu and going the 12 rounds in doing so.
“It wasn’t like a hard 12-round fight where we slugged it out, I thought I boxed well. I controlled it well. I’m confident now with the training that I’m doing that I can do 12 rounds comfortable again. You can do 12-15 rounds on the bags or in sparring but doing it in a fight is different. It gave me a bit of confidence that I did 12 rounds. Despite the weight and hand thing my fitness was spot on for the 12 rounds.”
After a sit down with his team to look at what was working and what wasn’t working for him, Fielding decided to hire friend and nutritionist James Morton, a working relationship that has gone from strength to strength. Morton was music to the fighter’s ears when he told him he could make super middleweight no problem and wouldn’t have to go to light heavyweight, as many had thought.
“Everything’s written down by him,” said Fielding of his now valuable asset.
“My target weight, what to be on each day and that. All done by the book and professionally so I’m bit better within myself. I always say I’m 100% but there’s always that couple per cent that makes you think about getting the weight off and how am I going to lose it. I’ve done well knocking opponents out. With this fight, where this has played a big part in my training, I haven’t needed to worry about starving myself. I’m up at 6:30am running every morning and I wasn’t doing that for the last fight. We’ll see if this all pays off.”
And for it to pay off, Fielding must demonstrate a willingness to engage with his confident and hard hitting opponent on Saturday or to be shrewd and use his boxing abilities for the fight’s entirety. Noe Gonzalez 30-3 (22 KOs), who has mixed with the likes of Adonis Stevenson and Felix Sturm, has already indicated in black and white that he needs to come to Britain, for the second time in over a year, and win convincingly on Sat night.
The Argentinian-based Uruguayan has vowed not to make the same mistakes he did against George Groves, last May in London, when Gonzalez was clubbed by an overhand right on the inside that saw the contest end in the fifth round. Fielding would love dearly to pick up from where his countryman left Gonzalez and get people talking about him again. And while he does have a point to prove this weekend, he is focused on just getting out of there with a win.
“It’s not like I have to go in there and get him out of there the way Groves did,” he said. “Groves is a good fighter, I’m not on his level yet but I’m not too far behind.
“This is a big fight for me, this is like a world title for me because this fight will open doors for me and put me right up there in the mix. And if it doesn’t go too well it knocks me back down, not like right the way down but a setback I don’t need. I’m on the up now. It’ll give me a world ranking, a good step up and take us in the direction we want to go into. A couple of good fights like that again then by next year, 18 months, I’ll be ready to fight for a world title.
“The way I can beat him is by knocking him out or winning on points. I’m the better boxer. I’ve just got to do what I’m doing now with (trainer) Oliver Harrison. Everything’s going well and I’m feeling good, the best I have been for a fight and some fighters say that the better opponent the better they fight and this one is coming to knock me out. When I won Prizefighter (in 2011) people wanted to come and knock me out. Carl Dilks came to knock me out, Wayne Reed did too so if fighters come at me then that brings the best out in me and I’m more switched on. I’ve looked at his record and he’s boxed at middleweight most of his career and no-one on his record that he’s beat stands out to me. When he has stepped up he’s lost and I want to be in that class with Groves. Just getting the win is the main thing and looking good doing it is a bonus.”
You can read more from Rocky Fielding in the second part of our interview later this week when he talks about the possibility of fighting Paul and Callum Smith.
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.