The twelfth fight in Anthony Fowler’s career may only be five weeks away but the British super welterweight will be in Newcastle this weekend with one eye on a potential opponent for next year.
The 28-year-old Liverpudlian (10-1, 8 KOs), trained by Dave Coldwell, returns to the ring on November 23 in Manchester on Sky Sports, but will be a keen spectator of the Ted Cheeseman-Scott Fitzgerald British 154lbs title fight this weekend.
Fowler has already spent ten rounds with Fitzgerald in a fight of the year contender, back in March, and is tipping his domestic rival to come out on top against the British champion this Saturday night.
“I think with the form they’re both on I think Scott should beat him,” Fowler told Boxing Scene.
“I think Cheeseman’s style should suit Scott. Scott’s got a good jab, good hooks, Cheeseman leads with his face a little bit at times and I think if Scott lands the way (Kieron) Conway did he might knock Cheeseman out. But Scott looked a lot heavier the last time I saw him, that was a while ago, so getting down to the weight might take a lot out of him. It’s an interesting fight, we’ll see who shows up. I was never impressed with Scott and his fights until I boxed him myself. We’ll see how he shows up on the night. Cheeseman is quite consistent.”
A win against former world title challenger Brian Rose (UD 10) in August saw Fowler bounce back from the bruising defeat to Fitzgerald after a lengthy bitter build up that was settled in a thriller. Keen to right that wrong, although admitting it’s not essential to his career, Fowler has learned some valuable lessons from losing his unbeaten record after a promising ten-fight start.
“It was a bad blow for my ego,” he confessed. “All the talking I done, I felt stupid the next day. I felt stupid in myself the fact that I was so naive I could just walk in and blast him out in five rounds when he’s an accomplished fighter; a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, an ABA champion, an unbeaten professional. It was naive on my behalf but I got involved in my own hype. Everyone bigging me up, sparring world champions, getting praise, everyone was just blowing smoke up me a little bit and I fell for it and let it get to me. I said I wouldn’t when I turned pro. I feel like I learned a harsh lesson but I feel like it’ll stand me in good stead for the rest of my career.”
“I’d taken things for granted,” he added. “I didn’t think for a second Scott was going to get past five rounds with me. I just thought I’d go in there, blast him out and… I wasn’t expecting him to be as tough, as fit and as clever as he was but he boxed a very clever fight. First few rounds I was finding it easy, I was catching him and then in the second or third round I hurt him and I thought a few more rounds I’ll knock him out and it just didn’t quite happen for me. And as the rounds went on, I was putting so much power into the shots, I was forcing things. He began to out box me a little bit and I was looking clumsy at times. Made mistakes that I wouldn’t normally make. In the rematch I’d have a lot more respect for his boxing ability, a different approach this time and I think it’d be a different outcome but we’ll see.”
The Fitzgerald-Fowler rematch, victories permitting, could take place outdoors next May at Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club, as part of a support card to world super middleweight champion Callum Smith and his rumoured unification fight against Billy Joe Saunders. But another lesson for Fowler has been looking too far ahead and is fully focussed on his next fight against potentially a “good, unbeaten British kid” in November.
“I need to become British champion before I can do other things,” Fowler insisted.
“When I first lost (to Fitzgerald) I was like I need that rematch, I need it, need it, need it but at the end of the day if he gets beat by Cheeseman, I box Cheeseman and beat him for the British title I’ve had the last laugh anyway. But I’d like to put it right in fighting him anyway but if that happens and I’m British champion and he’s doing what he’s doing, going out getting pissed or whatever, I don’t need to fight him for my career. There’s a lot more things I want to achieve. At the end of the day I want to achieve belts and money, Scott is not the be all and end all but it would be nice to get my revenge.”
Fowler went into his fight against Brian Rose with all the pressure in the world on him. A loss could have been a fatal blow to his career so early on. Expected to win, expected to recover from his first defeat it was a rare moment that he felt such weight on his shoulders and he told ‘Scene how he handled that on the night.
“Normally in the changing room before a fight I’m sitting with my mates, having a laugh, joking… there’s no pressure but I think the Scott fight showed me I was a little bit over confident. This time I had a bit more (of a) professional approach. Just me and Dave, more switched on. No messing around. Obviously I understand at the end of the day all you can do is your best, and I go into every single fight with that attitude. And as long as I know I’ve worked as hard as I can then I’ll have no regrets after the fight.”
Fowler laughed when ‘Scene asked him how he got over the loss to Fitzgerald and how he coped with it. Some fighters will go into their shell following a high profile defeat to a close rival, particularly having done so much talking online and on our television screens beforehand.
“Life goes on. At lot more worse things in the world than losing a fight.” And with that attitude, professionalism and crucial career lessons taken on board, Fowler, as he said, might end up having the last laugh on his rivals and doubters.