By Lee Elford
Promising British Cruiserweight Tony ‘The Conqueror’ Conquest, 8-0, returns to action after more than eight months out on July 7th at London’s Iconic York Hall having finally overcome the niggling hand injury picked up in his last contest against Toks Owoh, 20-6 at the very same venue back on 18 November 2011.
Romford’s Conquest, 27, defends his Southern Area title against former British champion Leon Williams, 9-4, who is coming off a loss in what was his first defence of the title to Shane McPhillbin, 8-3.
As the nucleus of up and coming British talent have found their way onto Boxnation’s ‘Box Academy’ shows, the recovering Conquest has been 100% dedicated in maintaining his fitness in any way his injured hand would allow him. Now back in full training, BoxingScene asked Tony to reflect on his last outing against the dangerous Toks Owoh.
“The preparation was terrific until the final week when I caught a flu bug, but that final week was still good,” recalled Conquest. “I had been sparring John McDermott in the build up, who showed me some great tricks which I took on board. There were a lot of people who thought Toks would upset the apple cart because the last thing a boxer loses is his punch, and he’s a big puncher. I am a long range fighter by nature but I was forced to get into the trenches and fight at close range – thankfully it all came together for me on the night, I was chuffed with the win.”
After the fight, Tony found himself having eight-weeks out of full training while his hand recovered, but the fitness fanatic kept his head down and continued working hard by any means possible.
He said: “I did a lot of shadow boxing! I’m a fitness enthusiast and I’m always running be it at the gym or on the streets. I concentrated on weights and cardiovascular until I was free to start using my hand again. I might have sneaked in one or two takeaways during my recovery but that was down to the missus!”
It has been a frustrating period for Conquest that has seen a recent comeback scrapped because of, thankfully, only a minor recurrence of the problem. “I’ve finally come to the end of it,” “The Conqueror” said of his injury.
“It’s finally sorted itself out and that’s largely thanks to a great physio. I’ve just finished a good hard 10 round sparring and I’m back and raring to go.”
The popular fighter, who brought a large army of cheering fans to his last contest, transcends a light-hearted and admirable attitude to the rigours of unsettled training to overcome the setback. Patience is something Conquest needed when having to overcome a frustrating battle with a rare form of acne as a junior, which delayed his turn over to the pro ranks.
“I was a troublesome kid – I got suspended from three different Senior Schools,” revealed Conquest. “I was always down the park smoking, drinking and I was overweight – I just generally caused havoc. I was 16 when a good friend of mine Stephen Hunt got me to come down to Repton ABC. I was down there for a bit but I took it up seriously not long after at Dagenham ABC where I weighed 110kg. I began fighting competitively at junior level having five contests; one of the opponents was Sam Sexton.
“From here I was out of the game for three and a half years with a terrible case of acne – the worst in Britain. It covered my back and reddened my face to the point where doctors wouldn’t let me box as an amateur. The steroids I was on to combat the acne caused me to blow up to 122kg.”
He added: I came back into boxing when I was 20 and as soon as I came off the steroids for my skin, the weight just fell off me and I was fighting at 89-91 kg in absolutely no time, there was no holding me back. I ended up having 22 senior bouts making the semi-final of the Nationals and the North East divisions. I also won the London title.”
Trained by Jason Rowland and assisted by Steve O’Shea, Dean Lewis and Danny Chamberlain, Conquest says his workplace is assembling a strong squad of up and coming talent.
“I’ve got a good feeling about Mitchell Smith [a super featherweight prospect]. I watch him on the pads in training he’s just unbelievable – a serious talent. He was on the undercard a couple of weeks back and he stole the show for many. The things he does in training are frightening. We’ve also got John Dignum who was unlucky to lose [to Lee noble] on the same night as Mitchell [fought], and Joe Mullender, a big strong middleweight who can hit like a heavyweight, I’ve had experience of it!”
With his own challenge on the immediate horizon, Conquest anticipates an extremely tough test from Leon Williams who is gunning for Conqueror’s Southern Area title on July 7.
“It’s going to be tough. He’s coming off a loss where he lost his British title, so I’m expecting him to come at me like a madman. We’ve got a game plan for him on the night but we’re expecting the best of him – he wants me out of the way,” said Conquest.
“I want that Lonsdale belt, bad. I want to be as busy as I can be before the years out. Richard Clarke is my manager and a top man. He works tirelessly and I’m sure he’ll sort it out the best fights for me.”