Unbeaten super-middleweight prospect Rocky Fielding is on this Friday’s debut presentation of BoxAcademy on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546) live and exclusive from the Oldham Leisure Centre.
Rocky “from Stocky” goes in over six rounds, aiming to take his record to 10-0 and features alongside fellow Liverpudlian talents Joe Selkirk and Paul Butler.
BoxAcademy is a new exciting monthly live show that will showcase the best young prospects in tough, action-packed, fights to develop quicker to championship level.
Boxing writer Glynn Evans talks In Depth to Fielding about his background and career so far.
Name: Michael Fielding
Weight: Super middleweight
Family background: I’m the middle of three boys. Neither of the other two boxed; too lazy! I live in Warrington now, away from Liverpool. It’s closer to my coach Oliver Harrison’s gym and allows me to keep me head down.
Trade: Since leaving school I worked at my uncle’s drainage company but I’ve been full-time with the boxing since getting involved with the England amateur set up.
Nickname: ‘Rocky’. Nothing to do with boxing! I was just a huge 10lb baby and ever since I’ve been ‘The Rock’.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? Initially, I was only interested in playing football. Me dad Michael ‘Tosh’ Fielding played in Everton’s FA Youth Cup winning team in 1984 then played a bit for a couple of lower league teams. Around the age of 30, he suddenly got the urge to start boxing and had about 15 amateur bouts. Only (2005 world amateur bronze medallist) Neil Perkins beat him. When I was nine, I tagged along with him. I was a real active kid; did anything that’d keep me off the streets
What do you recall of your amateur career? I started out with the Stockbridge club. (Ex British and Commonwealth light-heavy king) Tony Bellew was there at the time. After just two fights, I got to the national schoolboys final but I got beat.
After a while I moved to the Salisbury club and, when I was there, I won two national Junior ABA titles, in Barnsley, then London, and got beat in another national schools final. Winning that first Junior ABA was my amateur highlight cos it kick-started my international career and shortly after I won the Junior Four Nations in Port Talbot, Wales.
When I was about 19, I joined the Rotunda club in Kirkdale but broke me jaw, sparring with me mouth open and that put me out for 18 months. First year back, I reached the senior English ABA final at light-heavy but got beat by (five time Hungarian champion) Istvan Szucs, who was then boxing out the All Stars gym. The following two seasons I got robbed in the English quarter finals by the same kid, Lawrence Oseuke from Northumbria.
All told, I’d have had about 70 bouts and lost between 15 and 18. I boxed for England roughly 10 times and got a silver medal at a multi-nations over in Jordan. I was on the GB Development set-up in Sheffield for a few months at weekends but I weren’t getting any fights except in the ABAs so I went pro.
Looking back, the amateurs was great. I got to travel all over and met some boss lads. The Smith brothers (Paul, Stephen, Liam and Callum) plus Bellew, Joseph McNally and Joey Selkirk were all at the Rotunda while I was there and I went away with Amir Khan on north-west squads.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? My final two years it became very hard getting any fights on club shows. After losing in the ABA quarters, I begged my coach to get me a bout with Obed Mbwakongo, the England number one, but he pulled out the week before so I turned over. I wanted to box the best so needed to keep the ball rolling. Derry Mathews put a word in for me with (Salford pro trainer) Oliver Harrison and I signed pro with him.
Tell us about your back up team: Since winning the Prizefighter, I’ve been promoted by Frank Warren. Before I just featured on small shows promoted by Oliver. He’s managed and trained me from the start. He’d taken Amir Khan 17 fights unbeaten and got Jamie Moore British, Commonwealth and European titles plus he had Martin Murray.
We gelled immediately. He’s a good fella who looks after ya. No one here kills each other in sparring. He gets tactics ‘spot on’ and is very big on ‘tech’ work, goes over the same shot repeatedly until you get it correct.
My nutrition, what to eat and when to eat it, is organised by the fella from Liverpool FC.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I train six days a week with Sunday off. If I’m ticking over, I usually go to Oliver’s on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am till noon. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to David Lloyd’s to do weights or the Strong Man and Iron Man circuits. I might also pop into the Stockbridge amateur gym and help out with the kids there. I do my running in the evening and on Saturday we do our hill sprints.
When me fight’s coming up, I go to Oliver’s every day. Over a week, we do all the usual, shadow, technique pads and sparring, bar-bag, but you never know exactly what Ollie’s got in store for you until you arrive. He’s got this mad 14 station, 45 minute circuit with all different weights. Two days a week, Johnny Roy from Preston, who works my corner, comes to the gym. He’s a very good pad man.
I most enjoy sparring with Martin Murray. He’s been at world level so it’s great experience for me. Often we’ll do 10 rounds straight off. I’ve got to be honest, I really enjoy every aspect of training, but I’m not fussed on dieting. Oliver’s always on your case. I walk around about 12.12 but, provided I train hard and eat properly, doing super middle isn’t a problem.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I can change styles, even do a bit of southpaw. I can dig deep and fight if I have to but I prefer them to come on to me so I can pick ‘em off with counterpunches. Make ‘em miss, make ‘em pay. I don’t like getting hit!
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Getting longer fights against better opposition. I guarantee it won’t be any harder than sparring ten rounds straight off with Martin Murray. I’ll look better when the other fella’s trying to knock me head off rather than just cover up.
Hopefully, next fight, I’ll be stepping up to eight rounds. I don’t need to rush though. I’ve only been pro 18 months.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? Harder training for longer rounds. As a pro, we do everything in one session whereas in the amateurs it tended to be either sparring, or pads, or bags.
The amateurs is just about speed; everything 100mph. The pace of the pros is a bit slower and it’s far tougher. In the amateurs, every time someone’s head got jolted back they’d get a standing count but those pro journeymen get hit with everything and are still there. Very tough men!
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? It would be between Martin Murray and Antony Bellew in sparring. Martin’s so solid and he’s brilliant defensively. He’s also got good power. I only sparred Tony when he was pro and I was still amateur but he was very sharp and taught me loads.
In March 2011, you won the supermiddleweight version of Prizefighter. What’s your recollection?
One minute, I was in the pub, next thing I get an offer to take part in five days time. I had 10lbs to get off but Oliver said we could do it and it worked out brilliant for me, made me name. For once, the other fellas wanted to win and came to me, which brought out the best in me and I stopped them all. The prize money (£32,000) allowed me to go on a stag do to Mexico with 45 other lads and sort out the deposit on me house.
All time favourite fighter: Probably Mayweather. I like that cockiness!
All time favourite fight: Those Gatti-Ward fights.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Same as everyone. Mayweather-Pacquiao. Pacman’s brilliant but Mayweather’s even better, has a bit more skill. Floyd wins a tough, close fight.
What is your routine on fight day? I’ll wake around 8ish, have something like scrambled egg on toast for brekkie, then lounge in bed until 11 or midday. After, I may have a game of snooker with me mates.
Throughout the day I’ll have proteins; pasta, cous-cous and get loads of fluids back into my body. I’ll stop eating two hours before I leave for the venue. I’ll try and have a couple of hours kip in the afternoon or just ‘chill’ with me music on. I always leave from my mum’s house not mine. It’s just a routine.
I’m very relaxed. In fact, I’d like to be a bit more nervous! At the arena, I start to get excited. I’ll lace me gloves then, from the first shot I throw on Oliver’s pads, the nerves kick in and I’m ready to go.
Entrance music: The ‘Rocky’ theme tune.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? By the end of 2012, I’d like to have won a couple of belts; maybe an Area or English title. Frank and Oliver will know when I’m ready to step up for the British. Ultimately I want the British and Commonwealth then hopefully the European and world titles.
How do you relax? I don’t get much free time because, except for a couple of weeks in August, I’m always training, always ticking over. I like to go away on holidays with me girlfriend or play snooker or pool and have a pint with me mates at the local pub. Sunday mornings, I like to watch the lads play footy. I’m always itching to get on meself but can’t take the risk.
Football team: I like both Liverpool and Everton to do well but I’m mostly Everton. I had a season ticket as a kid and was on their books when I was 11 to 12. Without being big headed, I was a good kid; leading goalscorer and Player of the Year every season.
Me Dad withdrew me (from Everton) because, at that age, he just wanted me to enjoy me football. Several lads in the same club team I played for are in the (Football) League now, earning good money, and I was just as good as any of them!
Read: I don’t! I’ve not got the patience. I recently got The Four Kings (by George Kimball) about Hagler, Hearns, Leonard and Duran on Kindle recently but couldn’t get past page two. No pictures!
Music: Justin Bieber and JLS. Seriously!
Films/TV: I don’t really watch films. I watch loads of old fights and those HBO 24/7s on You Tube to pick up training tips. On the tele, I watch loads of sport and I like me soaps; Emmerdale, Eastenders and Corrie.
Aspiration in life: To achieve all the things I want to achieve, through hard work. To live in a big mansion with a swimming pool!
Motto: Train Hard, Fight Easy!
The debut of BoxAcademy will be broadcast live on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546) this Friday starting at 7.30pm.
Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport are delighted to announce the signing of Kal Yafai – and the exciting youngster has been backed by Carl Froch and Kell Brook to become a big star.
Yafai will make his debut on the undercard of Brook’s IBF welterweight showdown with American Carson Jones on July 7 at the Motorpoint Arena Sheffield, where Brook will be looking to secure a World title shot in the autumn.
The 22 year old from Birmingham turns over to the pro ranks after a glittering amateur career that saw him pick up key honours including World Junior title, three European silver medals and an ABA title, as well as representing Great Britain at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
“It's a massive show and a fantastic opportunity and the sort of night all fighters want to appear in,” said Yafai. “It's a huge showcase for my talent on the very first night and I can't thank Eddie enough for putting me on such a huge bill in my first fight. It's a new chapter in my career and it's what I've wanted to do since I started boxing - to turn pro and become a World champion.
“I just want to get into the pro game and get a feel of it, I'm not going to rush into making bold predictions that I'm going to be winning British titles inside a year, but I've got big ambitions and I know that Eddie is going to want to move me on quicker than others because of my amateur pedigree, which I'm obviously really happy with.”
Two-time World super middleweight champion Carl Froch has trained beside Yafai at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and has tipped his new stablemate to be a hit in the pro ranks.
“Kal has definitely got the goods to go a very long way in the pros,” said Froch. “He’s got fast hands, light on his feet and really strong – Kal is perfect for the pro game and he will be great to watch.”
Unbeaten Sheffield star Brook has also seen Yafai at close quarters and believes he is a great ambition to Hearn’s top class stable of British talent.
“I’ve seen Kal down at the EIS a lot and I’m really impressed with his attitude,” said Brook. “He’s keen to learn and improve which is really good to see – especially as he already has the makings of a top class fighter. We got on really well and he’s a very confident lad and that bodes well for his career. I’m delighted he’s making his debut on my show and I’ll be there to give him any advice he needs, and I’m sure the rest of Team Matchroom will be too.”
Yafai’s signature was much sought after and Hearn spoke of his delight at adding him to former Team GB teammate Scotty Cardle in his stable.
“Every now and then a fighter comes along that is very, very special,” said Hearn. “I'm so pleased that Kal has joined the team. He will be a superstar and deserves the superstar treatment and that begins now. We will give him the big build up for his debut at Sheffield Arena on July 7 and viewers and fans will be seeing plenty of him over the next few years.”
Tickets for Kell Brook vs. Carson Jones featuring Kal Yafai’s debut and the European title rematches between Gavin Rees and Derry Mathews (lightweight) and Kerry Hope and Greg Proksa (middleweight)are on sale now priced £30, £40, £60, and £100 from the Motorpoint Arena Sheffield box office on 0114 256 5656 and at www.motorpointarenasheffield.com .
VIP packages will be sold exclusively by Matchroom Sport priced £150 on 01277 359900 or at www.matchroomboxing.com . The package includes inner ringside seating (front seven rows), pre-fight party from 5.30pm-8pm with complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and canapés. (The bar will stay open as a pay bar after 8pm.)
Carl Froch believes his loyal fans with be the twelfth man when he takes on IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on May 26, live on Sky Sports.
The Cobra fights in his hometown for the first time since beating Andre Dirrell in a WBC World title defence in October 2009. Froch has been on the road since that night in some gruelling battles, and the 34 year old says he will take the IBF belt from the unbeaten champ to reward his followers for coming out in force - with the final batch of 400 tickets for the fight now released.
"I have to beat Lucian on May 26 - losing in front of my own fans is just something I cannot contemplate," said Froch. "They have travelled thousands of miles to watch me during the Super Six, and now they have a massive World title fight on their doorstep as a thank you - but it has to be a party and the only way it will be is if I keep the title here."
Only 400 tickets remain available for the May 26 showdown, with Froch's World title fight ably supported by Belfast's undefeated Commonwealth super featherweight champ Carl Frampton facing unbeaten Mexican Raul Hirales for the IBF Inter Continental super bantamweight title and Islington's Erick Ochieng defending the English light middleweight title against Nottingham boxer AA Lowe. There are also outings for hotly-tipped unbeaten 10-0 middleweight John Ryder, as well as outings for Ryan Aston, Adnan Amar, Bute's rated light welterweight stable mate Pier Olivier Cote and Team GB star Scotty Cardle.
"There's nothing like the Capital FM Arena when it is full," said Froch. "I was there on Monday night when it was empty and cold, and I just thought that in two weeks time this will be packed and the roof is going to come off. I know Lucian gets great support in Montreal but I don't think it compares to mine. They are quiet and study the fight as it goes along, politely clapping when he wins. My lot put all their energy behind every punch I throw and chant Forest songs all the way. Really, they support me how I know I have to box him - non-stop for as long as it takes until the title is mine."
The final 400 tickets for Froch’s IBF World super middleweight title challenge to Bute are on sale now priced £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 from the Capital FM Arena Nottingham website www.capitalfmarena.com and on 08444 124624.