UK News: Groves Now on Top; Tony Conquest Update
WBO World Lightweight Champion Ricky Burns will now not be defending his title this Saturday at the Excel London.
The show will still go ahead with FIVE titles on the card and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight Champion George Groves' title defence against Glen Johnson now tops the night, plus Billy Joe Saunders in a Commonwealth and vacant British Middleweight title showdown against Nick Blackwell and an exciting clash between Steve O'Meara and Liam Smith for the Vacant Commonwealth Light-Middleweight title.
Burns, who's original challenger Liam Walsh had to withdraw because of car accident, will not be facing Ocampo due to contractual issues with TV.
The Scotsman's return has now been postponed to the end of January and further details will be announced shortly.
It has been a frustrating time for everyone involved, particularly Burns who has trained hard for the last six weeks and was looking to close 2012 on a high after a sensational win against Kevin Mitchell last time out.
Promoter Frank Warren said, "It's a very disappointing time and I feel for Ricky who has put in a lot of hard work to prepare, first for Walsh and then Ocampo, and now he won't be on the show this Saturday, but will be return in late January . However, the show will go ahead this Saturday and it's a very strong card headlined now by Groves against Johnson, plus Saunders against Blackwell and O'Meara against Smith, who many are tipping to be the fight of the night. Also, the WBO International Cruiserweight Champion Tony Conquest defends his title against Neil Dawson and Bradley Skeete challenges Chas Symonds for the Southern Area Welterweight title. Despite Burns' being off, fans are still in for a great night of boxing."
Burns' manager Alex Morrison added, "Obviously Ricky was disappointed but he took it on the chin and he's taken a philosophical approach to it now. He knows that these things happen and it's unfortunate, but he knows that he'll be out in the New Year. Ricky will take a week's rest and then he'll start back in training again."
Tony Conquest: ‘Dawson’s In The Way Of My Lonsdale Belt Dream So I’m Going To Have To Shift Him!’
Despite negligible amateur pedigree, Romford cruiser Tony Conquest has romped to a top ten world ranking with the WBO after just ten fights.
A gas engineer by trade, the unbeaten Queensberry promoted 28-year-old has already claimed Southern Area and WBO International titles but, as he informed boxing writer Glynn Evans in this recent interview, it’s the Lonsdale Belt that he covets most.
‘The Conqueror’ will edge a few steps closer to securing his chance at British champion Jon-Lewis Dickinson if he can impress against Rotherham’s Neil Dawson in a scheduled 12 rounder for his International strap at the ExCeL London on Saturday evening, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
Though you gave a classy performance to outpoint Toks Owoh for the Southern Area belt last November (2011), people really started to take notice of you as a serious contender when you spectacularly avenged one time amateur conqueror Leon Williams. (Conquest wiped out the former British champion in just 146 seconds in July). That must have got a few monkeys off your back.
Yeh, it was nice to shut a few people up. Despite my progress a few were still saying I wouldn’t be able to handle him and expecting a repeat. (Williams had blown Conquest away in 54 seconds in the 2007 London ABA final). Finally, people started to acknowledge that I might have a bit of ability.
On a purely boxing level, I was over the moon because Leon was a former Southern Area and British champion so it’s a great scalp. I did a tiny feint, Leon threw a long left hook, exposed his chin and I drilled him with a short right hand. I noticed his head twist so steamed in with all guns blazing. He dropped, then when he got up I pinned him on the ropes and finished him. It’s on You Tube but it’s a shame it never got any TV coverage.
It was also a bit sad because I’ve been quite friendly with Leon for some time and he’s a good guy. But this is a hard, ruthless business.
Two months after, you consolidated with an impressive seventh round retirement victory over Dublin’s Ian Tims for the vacant WBO International cruiserweight title. What did you take from that victory?
The satisfaction of defeating a tremendously tough man. I think Ian realised I was a lot quicker quite early so he backed off and forced me to commit; constantly beckoning me in, trying to lure me onto a big counter.
After the blowout over Leon, it was pleasing to get a good few rounds in and show off some of my boxing skills. But there’s a lot more I can give and do. No one’s seen me at my best yet. That’ll come when I get my chance at that Lonsdale Belt.
In what aspects do you feel you’ve improved and matured as a fighter throughout 2012?
I’ve developed in all areas but perhaps the most significant is that I’ve acquired more seasoning. I’m learning what you can and can’t get away with in good class. It’s a long transition between the amateurs and top pros and it takes time to breach it.
In the amateurs I had a tendency to over train; tried to succeed simply by throwing more than the other fella. I felt if I outworked ‘em, I’d win. It’s not always that simple. I’ve added patience and now understand that, as you step up, it’s as much about quality as quantity.
I spend a lot of time talking things over with my coach Jason Rowland. He emphasises the need to settle, not rush. A lot of it is just common sense.
In what areas do you still need to need to develop, so that you can really flourish when matched for more significant titles?
Everything really. Mastering the art of boxing is a continual curve and you never stop learning. You probably forget more than you permanently take in. There’s so much to digest.
Jason really scrutinises me in the gym and he’s never shy to tell me what I’m doing wrong! He’s a very harsh taskmaster, likes every shot to be perfect. But I really want his approval so I always graft double hard in the gym to get stuff right.
What have you seen of Saturday’s opponent, Neil Dawson from Rotherham? What problems do you envisage him causing you?
I watched his Central Area title fight when he got stopped in six against Matty Askin - that was on You Tube – and I was ringside for his last fight when he outpointed Menay Edwards over six rounds at the York Hall (September). That was one of the best small hall fights you’ll ever see; both hurt the other constantly.
Neil’s one tough, fit fella who looks very strong and has a big right hand. He’s got two hands and a brain like me and I know he’ll be coming to win my belt.
Why isn’t he going to get it?!
Because of my unquenchable desire. It’s a desire that’s going to take me all the way through to the Lonsdale Belt. If anyone get’s in my way, I’m going to get them out of my way. On Saturday night Neil Dawson will be in my way so I’m going to have to shift him.
I’ve got ability, heart, desire and I train like an animal! Hopefully, it’ll be a good, hard fight that entertains the fans and makes people take more notice of me. In time, it’ll line me up for a British title fight but there’s no rush. I’m still young for a cruiserweight. I’m happy to play the waiting game.
What are your goals for 2013?
To have a real good campaign that includes me making more defences of my WBO belt and finally getting the British title. A Lonsdale Belt outright has always been my main aim.
Also I might have to go over to Germany for some sparring. All the best fighters, the Eastern Europeans, seem to be over there.
Birtley’s Jon-Lewis Dickinson recently collected the vacant British title in a drab 12 rounder over Bulwell’s Shane McPhilbin . What’s your assessment of him and the other leading domestic contenders?
The Dickinson-McPhilbin fight was messy but it was just a bad clash of styles which happens sometimes. Shane’s a strong brute and Dickinson struggled to get his distance but he kept calm and patient. You’ve got to give him credit for that.
I rate Jon-Lewis very highly, definitely the best of the bunch. He’s got a lovely long jab and a terrific engine. It’d be a privilege to share a ring with him some day and together I’m sure we could put on a really good fight.
Matt Askin’s a former ABA champion with a good record and he seems very heavy handed. That China Clarke is a big old lump and there’s a couple of real class amateurs coming through in Danny Price, a good stylist, and Scotland’s Steve Simmons who’s seasoned, clever and huge for the weight.
The division has needed a bit of stardust of late but, with those lads coming through; it won’t be long before it’s rocking again.