LUCAS BROWNE: "FORGET THE ASHES, I JUST WANT TO TOPPLE TOWERS"
LUCAS "BIG DADDY" BROWNE says he's not bothered about the outcome of the Ashes Series, he's just concerned with ensuring Australia beats the Pommies at boxing.
The unbeaten Perth puncher faces 6ft 8in Englishman Richard Towers in a final eliminator for the Commonwealth heavyweight title at the Melbourne Pavilion next Thursday (July 25).
Last year the pair spent time sparring together at Brendan Ingle's legendary gym in Sheffield and have been firm friends ever since, but they'll be looking to hit each other for six come fight night.
"To be honest I couldn't care less about cricket, but I am excited about the fight and am doing all I can to win," Lucas, 16 – 0 (14 KOs), said.
"I learnt a great deal from sparring and hanging around Richard. I learnt firstly that I'm not the biggest guy around and sometimes I have to be the smaller guy.
"I also learnt that he's a gentleman and equally focused on his career and family.
"He's not boxed for over a year so I think that could make a little rusty and possibly a step behind. I'm coming off three KO wins and 12 round decision with a legend in that same time."
Victory over Towers would put the Aussie in line for a clash with Liverpool's giant Olympic bronze medalist David Price and he says it’s a fight more than willing to travel over 10,000 miles for.
Price recently lost to American southpaw Tony Thompson for the second time and needs to bounce back. Whether his plans involve a Commonwealth title defence, though, remain to be seen.
"David Price is in a position where he needs to decide whether boxing at that level is really for him," Browne stated.
"If he wants to defend his title, I’d be happy, of course, if Hatton Promotion would stage such a great fight in Australia, but anyway I would also be more than happy to come to the UK to fight him."
Browne's manager and trainer Matt Clark added: "We're within touching distance of Lucas getting a shot at the Commonwealth title and we're thankful to Hatton Promotions for getting us in this position.
"Big Daddy is coming off a top 12 round victory against James Toney. He's hungry to take the next step on July 25. He's prepared very well and we're confident he will be successful on the night.
"We have plenty of respect for Richard and his team. You'll notice a lack of trash talk in the lead up to the bout. It's a contest that doesn't need verbal jibes to create interest. It's just a damn good heavyweight fight!"
Cardiff’s Kyle King is coming back to boxing and he’s targeting title shots on his return.
King has had a 16 month break from boxing after falling out of love with the sport. In that time, the 23-year-old began training white collar fighters and there he rediscovered the reasons why he wanted to fight.
He said, “I went back to basics and that gave me the buzz back. I’d be walking to the ring with my boxers and want to fight for them. It was refreshing and as well as giving me the hunger again, I think teaching how to box improved my boxing brain.”
Due to the lack of depth in the super-flyweight division, boxers can secure domestic title shots relatively early in to their careers and that’s what King believes will benefit him.
He said, “It was only a few weeks ago that Najar Ali from the Rhondda got a call to fight for the Commonwealth title. He’s only had a few more fights than me and he’s in the mix, in a couple of fights time it could be me getting the opportunities.”
“There aren’t a lot of super-flyweights about, before my break I was ranked fifth in Britain and I think I can get back there and crack on to get a higher ranking too.”
King admits his three wins and two losses record is modest but he also thinks it isn’t a true reflection of his talent.
He said, “People see the result but there’s a lot that happens before that. I’ve never made an excuse but I’ve been putting things right and I won’t go in to fights the way I did before, I’m better than that and I’ll show it.”
For the last two months King has been training with 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Jamie Arthur at his new facility in Rhydyfelin and he’s looking forward to a long boxer-trainer relationship.
King said, “I’d heard that Jamie was now training and of course I knew of him, I’ve got a lot of respect for him. When I came down we clicked straight away and when you have an understanding with someone where they know how to get the best out of you then you can’t complain.”
“Jamie’s fresh and has loads of new ideas, I don’t think I’ve ever come here and done the same training session. When you’re kept thinking then you learn more and I think you’ll see that when I fight next.”
Arthur said, “It’s been a delight having Kyle in the gym. He’s energetic and enthusiastic, there’s not much more you can ask from a boxer, he does everything I ask of him and gives advice to the youngsters in the gym too.”
“As with all of my boxers, all we ask for is good notice so we don’t have to rush preparation and it’s safe. If we have that then I’m happy to let Kyle of the leash, he’ll shock a lot of people when he fights because they’ll all underestimate him but he has championship qualities.”
PASCHAL COLLINS: ‘WHENEVER WE SPEAK TO KNOWLEDGEABLE BOXING GUYS AND BILLY JOE SAUNDERS THEY ALL IDENTIFY THE SAME MISTAKE, ONE COMMON FLAW.’
At the ripe old age of 29, Cork middleweight Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan finally gets his chance to crack the Big Time at Wembley Arena this Saturday.
‘The Celtic Rebel’ unbeaten in 16 with ten knockouts, squares off against Hatfield traveller Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO International strap in a showdown that has got aficionados buzzing on both sides of The Irish Sea.
O’Sullivan, a father of three girls, enters as an 11-2 underdog but the word around the gyms is that he carries seriously concussive dig in both barrels.
To uncover more about the man of mystery, boxing writer Glynn Evans spoke to ‘Spike’s’ long term manager-trainer Pascal Collins.
Remaining tickets are available from Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or www.eventim.co.uk and Wembley Arena on 0844 815 0815 or www.wembleyarena.co.uk
The show will be televised live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
“I boxed professionally as a middleweight and super-middleweight in the USA, firstly out of the Petronelli camp in Brockton, Massachusetts, then over with Freddie Roach at the Wildcard Gym in Hollywood, California.
They were great, great trainers and though I didn’t achieve all I wanted to achieve myself as a fighter, my learning was second to none. I was involved in all my brothers’ world title camps plus a few with (US world champions) Frankie Liles and James Toney.
Now I try to put my knowledge to good use as a trainer and a manager. The first fighter I was involved with was Kevin McBride who I steered to a stoppage victory over Mike Tyson. I also helped (ex Irish amateur star) Billy Walsh.
Today, in addition to ‘Spike’, my camp includes Stephen Ormond, a lightweight everyone is avoiding, cruiserweight Ian Timms and my nephew, Steve Collins Jnr, a cruiserweight who made his debut last week.
I first became aware of ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan when he made his pro debut on a show I ran in Cork in January 2008. I wasn’t directly involved with coaching him then. He was trained by his family. He fought Peter Dunn, a journeyman who often gets beat but very rarely gets stopped. I knew from that he must be very heavy handed.
Back then, ‘Spike’ wasn’t the most skilful but I could tell he had serious power. He also had a great following and was a very nice genuine kid so, through Gary Hyde, I agreed to get involved and started training him.
Initially, he used to waste far too much energy. He’d jump around like Naz (Hamed) when he wasn’t Naz, and he could leave his chin exposed. We’ve worked on his defence and it’s really tight now. I know this’ll sound stupid to outsiders but there’s a lot of Hagler about him. He comes forward, gets in your face but boxes you. It’s all very controlled.
Today, ‘Spike’ has every quality required to be a world champion. Out of the ring, he’s a real gentleman but inside he’s one horrible bastard! Whenever I used to spar my brother, though we’re very close, he’d always try to knock me out! Spike’s exactly the same, if I’m stupid enough to stick the gloves on with him.
He’s blessed with real concussive power in both hands. In addition to our Steve, I’ve sparred (ex WBA super-middle king) Frankie Liles and neither hit close to as hard as ‘Spike O’Sullivan does. I need to wear special mitts when we’re doing our pad work.
‘Spike’ also takes a great shot and he’s mentally very strong. Again, he reminds me a lot of my brother Steve, in that regard. What might be less apparent is that he can read an opponent after only one or two rounds. He can also read people very quickly after first meeting them.
We’re reasonably happy with how his pro career is progressing. A lot of the inactivity has been out of our hands. Politics. During the periods he was out of the ring, he was still in the gym, learning.
People have to understand that we repeatedly pushed Dean Powell for the Billy Joe Saunders fight. Don’t be fooled into thinking it was something they requested. We knew that, at 29, ‘Spike’ now needed to be taking quality fights not quantity fights.
We were first introduced to Billy at the James DeGale- George Groves show at the O2 in May 2011. He’s a very nice kid – we’ve certainly no hatred for him - but I told Gary straight away that one day he’d be fighting Saunders. We’ve been preparing mentally for this fight for over two years.
Look Billy Joe’s real class, one of the very best out there. He’s a handsome kid who could eventually be as big as Joe Calzaghe. However, when I speak to knowledgeable boxing guys like my brother and Freddie Roach about Billy Joe, we’ve all identified the same mistake, one common flaw. In camp, we’ve been working on forcing Billy into make that mistake and then nailing him.
Billy Joe is a good kid and we’d rather it wasn’t him we have to fight but we need this scalp to move ‘Spike’ forward. We might not be able to beat him in a year’s time. Jimmy Tibbs is a very good trainer who I respect hugely and know that he could eventually iron out the faults that exist. But we’re very confident that we can beat Billy Joe now.
People are making a huge mistake if they judge ‘Spike’ on his 12 round points win against Matthew Hall. We were only given two and a half weeks notice which was less than ideal but it was far too good an opportunity to turn down. With just 20 rounds sparring we beat Hall pretty easy. This time we’ve had 300 rounds.
Preparation has been grand. Initially we were going to be fighting Joey Selkirk so we’ve been in camp for 12 weeks. ‘Spike’ has been having hard 12 round spars twice a week with Eamonn O’Kane, the recent Prizefighter winner, plus JJ McDonagh and Paddy McDonagh, two big southpaws. We’re ready.
Look, fighting over in England, we know we’ve got to knock Billy Joe out. Technically, they’re probably about as good as each other but we’re travelling to Billy Joe’s backyard so we know this fight will be won on a knockout. It’d be different if the fight was over in Ireland. I’ve approached the WBO about ensuring we have some Irish representation among the referee or judges but won’t count on it.
We anticipate a clever, technical war but they’ll potentially be in the ring for 36 minutes and that’s a long time. We’ll take the fight to Billy Joe and force him to make mistakes. Whenever ‘Spike’ clips Billy Joe, he’ll know about it. When he tags him clean, he’ll knock him out.
This fight is effectively a world title eliminator and when we have our victory we’ll be looking to get straight into a world title fight with (WBO boss) Peter Quillan. ‘Spike’s’ already rated fourth with the WBO and we know Quillan’s people are receptive to the fight. We’ve no interest in pursuing fights with your Andy Lees, Matt Macklins, Darren Barkers or Martin Murrays until after we’ve won the world title. We already believe we’re the best middleweight in Europe.
Now we’re involved in bigger fights, we’ll be able to afford to have better training camps and, only then, will Gary O’Sullivan reach his full potential. More than anything, boxing fans like to see people getting knocked out. And that’s what ‘Spike’ does. Ultimately, he’s going to be a very exciting world champion.”