Exciting light-heavyweight prospect Miles Shinkwin makes his second professional appearance this Thursday night at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.
Shinkwin beat James Tucker on points in his debut last month and now takes on Scunthorpe’s experienced Jody Meikle over four rounds. Boxing writer Glyn Evans talked to Shinkwin about his background and ambitions.
Frankie Gavin’s challenge for the British Welterweight title against champion Junior Witter headlines the action-packed card that also features unbeaten talents Ronnie Heffron, Craig Evans, Gary Corcoran and Charlie Hoy, plus John Dignum.
Gavin v Witter is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Name: Miles Shinkwin
Family background: I’ve just got two older sisters. I live in Bushey but I’m moving out the family home in a fortnight.
The Shinkwins are a huge boxing family. One of my granddads plus my dad and five of my six uncles all boxed amateur. Three of em turned pro; Dad (Danny), Shaun and Ronnie.
Then there’s 18 boy cousins. Liam, Kieron, James, Callum and Connor all boxed amateur and Liam is a pro now.
Trade: I’m a heating engineer....a posh plumber! My boss is a family friend and always allows me to work a four day week in the month leading up to a fight.
Nickname: I haven’t decided on one yet.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? I weren’t forced into it as such but mum worked nights and dad used to take me along to the boxing gym when he was training it. I got bored sitting and watching so one night just decided to join in. I was probably about eight or nine at the time.
I actually remember carrying the round cards for Dad’s pro fights at Watford Town Hall. I’d have been about six!
I played a lot of football as well as a kid but, when I was about 12, I injured my back which forced me to pull out of a fight. I needed to choose and enjoyed the boxing more so ditched the football.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I started at the Bushey ABC at the age of eight and stayed there, coached by my dad, until I turned pro this year.
Dad trained me from the beginning. All teenagers row with their parents but I now realise that he was the best! I just wish I’d matured a bit earlier. I always thought I was right and Dad was wrong. .....he weren’t!
I had 81 amateur contests and won about 65. I won the national schoolboys, junior ABAs and two NABC titles. The highlight was probably beating Travis Dickinson in the Junior ABA final. In the semis, he’d been the first fighter to beat George Groves so was a hot favourite to beat me but I had a strong last round. I also beat (2012 Olympic bronze medallist) Anthony Ogogo.
I boxed for England about 15 times between the ages of about 14 and 17 and won two Four Nations gold medals, one as a Junior, one as a Cadet.
I also won a junior multi-nations gold and the Best Boxer of the Tournament in Finland and a Junior Olympics bronze in Texas. Over there, I got beaten in the semis by Demetrius Andrade, the former world amateur champion who went to the Olympics. I also boxed at the President’s Cup in Azerbaijan and a round robin tournament in Ireland.
My two regrets are that I didn’t box senior for England or win a senior ABA title. For a couple of years I kind of got stuck between two weight divisions; a shade too big for one but not quite big enough for the next.
I entered the ABAs four times and twice got to the national semis but didn’t get that little bit of luck you need. One year Obed Mbwakongo pipped me and last year I dropped a split to Deion Jumah of Dale Youth. I thought I just won both.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? When I lost to Jumah, it was a 3-2 split and the deciding judge had me down by one point. I thought I can’t wait around for another year for that to happen again. Also, a big strength is that I’m very fit so the longer rounds of the pros should suit me more. I’m already sparring eight rounds straight off with (Southern Area cruiserweight king) Tony Conquest.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by Mickey Helliet, promoted by Queensberry Promotions and trained by (ex British and WBU light-welter champion) Jason Rowland from the Noble Art stable at the Fight Farm gym in Basildon.
Lots of coaches can only train a fighter one way but there’s half a dozen at our gym and Jay’s strength is that he trains us all differently. He can adapt; go with what you’ve already got and put a bit extra on. That really suits me cos I didn’t want to alter my style too drastically when I turned over.
Also my golf club sponsor me to have a strength and conditioning coach/nutritionist on Saturday afternoons.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I’ll run three or four mornings a week before work. I mix it up; sometimes sprints and interval work, sometimes six to eight miles.
I’ll finish work at four and arrive at Jay’s gym around 5.15, Monday to Friday. It’s a 100 mile round trip. I’ll train for a couple of hours and don’t get home until 8.30.
Routinely, I’ll loosen up then do a bit of shadow boxing. Jay’s not a big believer in skipping. Then we’ll do a lot of bag work and groundwork. I’ll spar every other day if I’ve a fight lined up.
Jay’s got a lot of mad stuff; punching with weights, lugging this massive 12 stone tractor tyre about and climbing ropes. No two days are the same. It’s never boring.
Sparring is my favourite bit. I just enjoy punching people! You can’t have time off mentally like you can if you’re fitting the bag. I have very good spars with Tony Conquest. Worst bit, I hate running in winter. Anyone who tells you they enjoy going out when it’s cold and raining is a liar!
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m a thinking counterpuncher with a high workrate and very quick hands for quite a big person. I’ve a good jab. Dad always taught me you can win a fight with the jab alone.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I need to sit down on my punches more and really pick the shots; make ‘em count cos in the pros you have to hurt ‘em. In the amateurs you can land with a ‘flick’ or smash ‘em with a hammer but one still only score a point.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? For my debut, I noticed that you have a lot more time in the pros. The amateur fights are so quick, they’re over before they’ve started. In the pros, you can take your time and pick your shots. I’ve good variety so think that will suit me better.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Probably George Groves in the gym. I used to go over to Dale Youth ABC and do a lot of sparring with both him and James DeGale. James was bloody hard to hit and had exceptionally fast hands but George, who was my roommate for years on the England trips, always wanted to take you out with every shot.
All time favourite fighter: Sugar Ray Leonard. Brilliant to watch; was fast, could punch, had everything.
All time favourite fight: Sugar Ray Leonard against Marvin Hagler. I can never understand the argument from people who believe Hagler won that fight.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Mayweather-Pacquiao might be a bit stale now so I’ll go with Amir Khan against Kell Brook. I fancy Brook. He’s very accurate and Khan has no chin.
What is your routine on fight day? I’ll be up around eight o’clock for my omelette and me pint of milk. I’ll then just try to relax as much as I can. I may go around to visit my two nephews and niece.
Jay reckons I’m a bit too relaxed! I’m just very confident that I’m going to put on a good show. For my debut I was joking about as I was walking to the ring but, once the first bell goes, I can switch on and be as serious as any fighter.
Entrance music: ‘Shipping Off to Boston’ by The Dropkick Murphys. Good Irish tune!
What are your ambitions as a boxer? To get as far as I can go and I believe I’ve the ability and team behind me to make a world title. If you aim low, there’s no point doing it. Boxing’s too hard.
I definitely think I could be British light-heavyweight champion in about 18 months time.
How do you relax? Golf, golf, golf! I started five years ago and play off a six handicap. I play Saturday mornings but if I wasn’t in training, I’d play every night.
Football team: I’m quite a big Man United fan and go several times a season, home and away.
Read: I read quite a bit. At the minute I’m reading ‘Lawless’ after being impressed by the film of the same name. It’s a true story about prohibition. I’ve read the De Vinci Code many, many times.
Music: Elvis (Presley) was the best. Of today’s crop, I like Rod Stewart and James Morrison.
Films/TV: I like the comedies. Shrek One is my all time favourite. I hate horror films. No story line. On TV I like the sitcoms; Only Fools and Horses, Friends, Two and a Half Men.
Aspiration in life: To be the best I can be, to know I gave it a good old go.
Motto: He Who Dares, Wins!
Remaining tickets priced at £35 and £60 are available through Ticketmaster on 0844 844 0444 and online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk
Gavin v Witter is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.comHATTON PROMOTIONS BRANCH INTO FAR EAST
RICKY HATTON has continued to expand his promotional arm despite preparing for his boxing comeback.
‘The Hitman’ has launched Hatton Promotions Asia Pacific where he plans to feature top boxers from the Far East and Australasia.
The first show will be staged at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Tuesday December 11.
Top of the bill will be a clash between Australian Lucas Browne and England’s Richard Towers – two friends promoted by Hatton Promotions.
The unbeaten pair became close when they sparred together earlier this year at Towers training base in Sheffield.
But friendship will be forgotten for ten rounds when they meet, with a shot at Commonwealth champion David Price for whoever wins the eliminator.
Hatton who boxes Vyacheslav Senchenko at Manchester Arena on Saturday November 24 said: “What a fight to start our new promotional company, and how much more could be at stake.
“Lucas and Richard are both punchers and hungry for success and it will show on the night.
“The goal of Hatton Promotions Asia Pacific is to bring world class boxing events to different cities in Asia and build a world class stable in the region.”
Browne, 33, has won all 13 contests with 12 wins coming by KO and last boxed in June stopping Hastings Rasani inside a round at Manchester Velodrome.
Towers, 33, has a 100% record in 14 fights and the 6ft 8in puncher came through a tough fight against Gregory Tony on the same bill winning the EU title in nine rounds.
The full undercard will be confirmed in the coming weeks. For more details on the card please go to http://hattonboxing.asia/newsletter/
Tickets are available priced HK$1680, HK$1280, HK$880, HK$480, HK$280 from www.hkticketing.com or www.hkticketing.com/eng (ENGLISH LANGUAGE) or (+852) 31 288 288
New meets old at the York Hall this Thursday evening, when rising former world amateur star Frankie Gavin challenges wise old warhorse Junior Witter for the British welterweight title.
Witter v Gavin is live and exclusive on BoxNation, The Home Of Boxing, (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Here, in his own words, the champion’s long standing trainer-manager Dominic Ingle provides boxing writer Glynn Evans with a fascinating insight into Witter, the deep, introverted but talented switch hitter who he moulded and cajoled from a youth into a British, Commonwealth, European and world champion.
“I first became aware of Junior when he boxed Ryan Rhodes, who was the weight above, as an amateur. Even then, you could see he was a bit different to everybody else. He had similar attributes to those taught at our gym, naturally tricky, delivering shots off awkward angles, but he’d developed the style himself. A while after, he rolled up at our gym cos he’d seen all our top kids appearing on TV.
He’d come over from Bradford about three times a week but largely kept himself to himself. It were a couple of months before he said anything other than ‘Hello’ to me! He’s always been a bit of a loner and, after 16 years at this gym, I’ve never really dug under the layers and been able to get to really know him. He’s just a very quiet, unassuming guy. ! I thought he were promising and could cause people problems but never expected he’d develop into a world beater!
Like with all new blood at the gym, everyone wanted to beat him up but he developed survival techniques then gradually improved his footwork through the lines at our gym and learned how to punch on the pads. He was a good student, observing Johnny (Nelson) Ryan, Naz. While we gave him the basics, he’d experiment with his own stuff; these Michael Jackson moonwalks with a shot on the end! The only downside back then was he had a very poor diet, loved his chocolate bars.
He had a baptism of fire on his debut because he was stuck in over six-threes against Cam Raeside, the reigning Midland Area champion, but Junior held him to a draw. Early doors, he regularly featured as the opponent on other people’s shows, often against kids who’d beat him, or didn’t rate him, from the amateurs. Starting out, Junior couldn’t punch much but he could outbox’em.
The turning point came when he beat South Africa’s Jan Bergman over six rounds in just his tenth fight. Bergman had won about 34 of 35 and went on to fight for a world title but Junior completely bamboozled him for the first four, ran rings round him, then held on to get the verdict.
Though Junior hadn’t really won any major amateur titles, and hadn’t fought for even a British or Commonwealth title, we matched him against Zab Judah for the IBF world title on the Tyson bill at Hampden Park, Glasgow just three and a half years after he turned pro.
None of the other British light-welters around fancied it so Junior was the last option.
Before the Judah match was made, Junior wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose’. Judah came over as this bad ass friend of Mike Tyson’s but, at the pre-fight press conference, we persuaded Junior to get into Judah’s face and say loads of brash stuff which got into Judah’s mind. Initially, Judah was expecting a walk in the park. All of a sudden he’s questioning himself, demanding tapes of Junior, otherwise the fights off?! From that, Junior learned valuable lessons about how easy and important it is to get a psychological edge.
While we didn’t really expect Junior to win – he’d fought a four rounder against Arv Mittoo in his fight before– we expected him to get through. Sure enough, he held his own for the first six rounds and came through unscathed. He got slagged off for being negative afterwards but that fight taught Junior that he had the ability to compete at world title level. It were a crucial stage of his development.
From that, Junior derived the confidence that he could compete at world level. He began to embrace a proper diet, we gave him more attention at the gym and sent him off sparring overseas, learning behind the scenes.
After Judah, Junior had 15 consecutive stoppage wins and picked up the vacant British, Commonwealth and European titles in just seven rounds combined. Unlike certain rivals, Junior always took chances. He was brought up by a traditional West Indian dad who’d give him a clip himself if he didn’t fight back in the street and he had three or four elder brothers who’d battle him every day. Consequently, he was frightened of nobody!
Around that time, Johnny Nelson started to play a big part. He’d stress that Junior had ten times the ability Johnny himself had but that he had to get in the gym two or three times every day if he was to really fulfil his potential.
Unlike some of the others Junior never let his hair down. He weren’t a big socialiser. He was never absent from the gym for longer than a fortnight – if he went away on holiday - and was always within 70% of his maximum fitness. Whether he’d a fight lined up or not, he’d train every single day. Junior, to his credit, did every thing that we told him even if, at the time, he didn’t think it was right. He learned every aspect of his craft.
Ricky Hatton had this Manchester style that the likes of Anthony Crolla and Scott Quigg have today where they press forward and grind you down. If you’re superfit - and Junior always were – it’s a relatively easy style for a mover to beat. Luis Collazo and Eamonn Magee gave Hatton fits and Floyd Mayweather beat him up. Junior would’ve tormented the hell out of Ricky, then caught him coming in. He’d not have seen the shots coming. We were very, very confident.
The night that Junior outscored DeMarcus Corley to win the vacant WBC light-welter title (September 2006) was a very special night for our gym. Corley was quite a good boxer himself, very tricky. It wasn’t a fantastic fight to watch – Junior’s elimination win against Lovemore N’Dou was far tougher, far better - but Junior was brilliant, completely bamboozled him.
We didn’t have a world champion in our gym at the time so I remember it really raised morale, motivated all the others coming through. From what he did as an amateur, compared to Naz or Ryan Rhodes, we always viewed Junior as an overachiever. There wasn’t the same level of expectation.
He’d always been overshadowed by Ricky Hatton who had a more attractive fan friendly style yet Junior won the WBC belt. It doesn’t get any better than that! Whatever you want to read into it, Junior was mandatory and Floyd Mayweather gave the belt up because he didn’t want to face Junior. Fact. Perhaps it just weren’t cost effective. Whatever.
Junior made two successful defences and looked particularly good knocking out Vivian Harris (round seven) but he never really got the recognition he deserved or made that ‘crossover’ (to be appreciated by the wider sporting public).
The night he lost his title to Timothy Bradley he were only 75% there, mentally. He trained hard as always but his Dad, who he was close to, had cancer. The week before the fight they cut his Dad open and Junior finally realised there was nothing more they could do for him, that he was on his way out. It pre-occupied his mind and, at the time, his WBC world title wasn’t the most important thing to him.
Tim Bradley was always likely to be a very tough night. He’s a game, willing roughhouse who makes very good use of his head!
Still, it was close up until round seven when Junior lacked a bit of concentration and got dropped by a big overhand right. He was a bit ‘gone’, tell the truth, and did well to fence Bradley off and survive the last six rounds. He still only lost on a split decision by a couple of points. If he were 100%, the outcome might have been different but that’s boxing. You can’t expect all the planets to be aligned 100% every time you fight.
Junior was always going to be up against it the night he tried to regain the title against Devon Alexander over in America. From the moment we landed, we were given the run around. We’d had all our medicals done but the Yanks insisted we got ‘em done again over in Los Angeles. Next thing, the California State Commission denied us neutral WBC judges, insisting on all Americans....like it or lump it!
Then, warming up in the changing rooms, Junior overreached with a shot and his right elbow locked. After that, he couldn’t punch with any power. Alexander were a strong, game kid – really up for it - and Junior had to hold a lot just to buy time. He were risking disqualification so reluctantly I decided to save him for another day and retired him on his stool (after round eight).
After that, I think Junior became a little disillusioned for a while. He had some personal problems, then had surgery on his knees and was in therapy which restricted his movement when he had a comeback fight over in Canada (lpts 10, Victor Lupo Puiu). Then he did Prizefighter and got to the final but it wasn’t really his game.
He’s had to accept that he can’t be the same fighter today that he was five years back. He has to rely more on his trickery. But we knew he wasn’t ‘done’. Lately, we’ve been working closely with sports scientists from Sheffield University, strength and conditioning experts who monitor heart rates, check recovery, hydration and blood sugar levels.....
Their tests determine that, physiologically, Junior’s got the body of a 27 year old, but the wisdom of a 38 year old. That’s some package. He can still complete all the training, still beats all the 22 and 23 year olds in the gym, outlasts ‘em on the pads and controls ‘em in sparring.
There’s always been rivalry in the gym between Kell (Brook) and Junior but there’s big mutual respect. Junior appreciates that Kell is the new generation. I don’t let them spar together too often but when I do it’s always very entertaining!
So, while everyone else thought Junior was past his sell by date, it came as no surprise to us when he beat Colin Lynes to win the British welterweight title last May. And he only had one good hand!
After their first fight, Colin told me he was thinking of quitting the game because Junior had been so much better than him and I sensed he still had those inferiority ideas in his head. Sure enough, once Junior clipped him a couple of times, Colin backed off and Junior did what he needed to do to become the oldest British welterweight champion in history.
Every fight now is a bonus for Junior. I’ve told him next time he gets beat, he’ll need to call it a day. At 38, it’s too hard a game to be battling your way back into contention for a grand a fight. To date, thankfully, he’s got no damage and he’s been such a fantastic advert for our gym we won’t allow him to get hurt. We’ve a career planned for him in coaching after he retires.
But he won’t be getting beat by Frankie Gavin. It’s going to be like moving from League Two into the Premier League.
Frankie keeps rabbiting on about Junior’s ‘old man legs’ but I guarantee he’ll have never met anyone fitter than Junior. Alongside Kell, he’s had the best camp of his life. He’ll have been at it steady for 14 weeks, including a brutal fortnight over in Fuerteventura, and I guarantee he’ll be 25-30% better prepared than he was for Colin Lynes last time.
He’ll present problems Frankie Gavin’s never seen before. He’ll never have boxed or sparred anyone remotely like Junior Witter.”