Make no bones about it the career of Hosea Burton should be in much better condition than it is right now.
The former British Light Heavyweight champion has had an unrewarding three years since he lost his title to Frank Buglioni in Manchester. The same night that Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora gave us a heavyweight barnburner that would get more credit if it had been in the seventies.
Burton and Buglioni gave us similar but more skilful entertainment and the fight was in the champion’s hands until the final two rounds when it all fell apart. Since that night Burton, the quiet man of Joe Gallagher’s stable, has faced six opponents with a combined record of 48-76-12. Two eight rounders and four six round contests.
This weekend in Brentwood, live on Sky Sports, presents an opportunity for the skilful 31-year-old to put the past to bed and to remind people of how good he actually is. Burton walks into MTK’s Golden Contract Light Heavyweight competition as the betting favourite to take home a prize that would reignite his career, and his quest kicks off against another former British champion: Bob Ajisafe.
“The competition is a massive door opener for avoided people, people who don’t feel like they’ve had their chance yet,” Burton told Boxing Scene.
Burton’s three years in the wilderness has seen him miss out on fights against the likes of Anthony Yarde and found himself in the “Who needs him club” and described as “High risk, low reward.” Take your pick.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said the resolute Burton who has bided his time waiting for an opportunity, at short notice if needs be.
“I lost that big fight with Frank [Buglioni], a fight I was well in control of and possibly if I got beat up in that fight and stopped I may have quit boxing by now. But I never got beat up and stopped. I was winning easily and I walked on to one in the last minute of the last round and, to be honest, if I quit then I don’t feel like I would have done myself justice. I’ve kept myself motivated and mentally strong because I thought I’d get a big chance at short notice, or someone would pull out, or someone couldn’t get a visa and then I would get asked to fight. That’s what I’ve dedicated my life to, just to be ready at any time.”
Weeks turn into months, which turn into years and the phone call he craved never came. And for a young man with a family of four, not only does his career suffer but so does his bank balance.
“I’ve got to feed them. I’ve got to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. So I was waiting on phone calls, trying to get fights, nothing coming. Luckily I’ve got a great family around me who helps me and supports me when I’m in need and when I can repay them I will. And that’s what you’ve got family for.”
‘Scene then asked Burton would he have had to find employment outside of boxing if his family had not stepped in.
“Oh, 100%. Probably wouldn’t even be boxing if it wasn’t for them.”
Burton firmly believes he is an avoided fighter, and there is some truth to that, but there may be another reason.
“Yeah, there is more to it. I can’t sell tickets and if you can’t sell tickets you’re never going to be your promoter’s dream.”
“The people who can sell lots of tickets get out regular if you can fight or not. If you can’t sell tickets, but you can fight, well tough luck sell some tickets. Boxing is a business on all scales and sizes and ends of the game. If you’re not a good businessman by not marketing yourself or selling yourself well you’re not going to get much trade.
You feel like you could ask Burton anything about his career or his life and there wouldn’t be one question he would shirk.
Burton describes himself as a “boring person”, hence why you don’t really see him on social media or make the kind of racket that can help get you a fight in this day and age. Social media can act as a matchmaker’s playground but Burton isn’t interested. He’s happy at home with his family and his animals.
“I’m not a big socialiser. I don’t go out much, I don’t go drinking much, I don’t often go to football matches, I’m just a quiet, family person. I like my animals and I like my own company. I’m never going to be a promoter’s dream and sell thousands of tickets and all that crap.”
Horses and chickens are a welcome distraction for Burton, particularly the former. Time away for a few hours where he isn’t thinking about anything else other than looking after his horses. The stresses of the world are off in the distance and time with his animals bring a degree of calm to his life.
With the competition soon to be underway Burton sees himself as the man to beat, the number one, and he is keen to remind people why he is the betting favourite.
“I’ve weighed up everybody in the competition. I know everything about them. They’re all good fighters. There are some a little bit better than others but I’d put me down in the number one spot in that competition and by the time the competition is over everyone will know why I'm number one.”
Burton now goes into his fight against Ajisafe at 100%. Something he says he has never been in his life. The loss to Buglioni may the best thing to happen to him, but a three-year wait is an awfully long time to hang around ticking over without going full throttle.
“I used to think I didn’t have to train as hard as other people because I was a naturally better boxer. I come from a fighting family who have had generations of fighting and I just thought that was the way it rolled, I was pitbull breed and the rest were chihuahua breeds. I thought that’s how it was. I understand you’ve got be fit now.”
“I’m not looking at the past no more. I’m looking at this contract that I’m going to win and the prize money I’m going to win, plus knockout bonuses. I’m going to become a very wealthy man very shortly.”