Rocky Fielding (27-2, 15 KOs) will leave behind a period of normality and return to the boxing ring on Friday night in Liverpool.
The 32-year-old Liverpudlian has had eleven months away from his day job to enjoy much needed time with his young family, allowing himself to recharge and switch off.
The last time we saw Fielding in a boxing ring was December 15, 2018 when he defended his WBA Super Middleweight title against Mexican superstar Saul Alvarez at Madison Square Garden. Fielding was eventually overwhelmed by DAZN’s poster boy in three rounds. His reign, after memorably defeating Tyron Zeuge in Germany for the title, was over and from there Fielding made the decision to take some time out and return to everyday life.
“It was a chance to just live normal,” Fielding told Boxing Scene ahead of his comeback fight against Abdallah Paziwapazi (26-6-1, 23 KOs) at Liverpool’s Olympia as part of an MTK Global promotion.
“I was getting up with the kids, getting them ready, changing nappies, just normal. It’s what life is about really. Last few years, since I turned pro really, I’ve just been in the gym trying to get to the top. Mentally, boxing overtakes you. You come out the gym and you’re thinking next session, what time, go again. So I just enjoyed relaxing and putting my time into my family really.
“There was a time, when I was thinking at the back of my head, ‘I’m putting the weight on here, let’s start making a move’. I was in a local gym with the lads just training two or three days, getting in and doing a session, but not watching my diet. I was having a few drinks, just being normal but then it comes to a point where you think this is not me. My routine is the gym so I had to get back into it. So I’m enjoying everything now. I did have opportunities to fight on the (Gennady) Golovkin cards in June and October but I just wanted to get a little fight back, get back to winning ways and then start looking for bigger ones.”
His Tanzania opponent for Friday night should, on paper, not provide a stumbling block for Fielding. If there is any rust to shake off then it will likely come in this fight but the home fighter is hoping to put on a good enough and quick enough performance to give himself the chance of fighting again in December; willing and ready to take on a seismic fight should it come his way.
Fielding finds himself ranked at 8 with the WBC, just behind the likes of Caleb Truax, Fedor Chudinov and Anthony Dirrell, so the likelihood is that, particularly in 2020, a fight against a ‘name’ will come his way and he insists that he wants to go back up against the best the division has to offer and refuses to be a gatekeeper to the likes of American prospect, and fellow Matchroom employee, Anthony Sims Jr who has made some noise about wanting to fight the Brit in the U.K.
“I’m not going to go ‘Okay then, I’ll do you a favour’, you can use my name since your Eddie Hearn’s prospect,” said Fielding in response to the call-out.
“If I hadn’t had the career I had then I might bite at it but now I have to think what’s best for me and what moves to make to get me back in a position for a world title fight. That’s all I’m thinking. Maybe a few years ago or a few fights ago I’d have been on the phone to Eddie saying where and when. If Eddie comes back and said it will be for this amount and for this belt then it’d be different. But I’m not just going to go and fight this kid because it will benefit him.
“I’ve seen clips of his fights because I’ve been tagged in on social media but he’s fought no-one. He looks a good kid and good luck to him. I’ve been in his position but I’m 32 now and I’ve got to make the best moves to get into the best fights. I just want something useful for me. I want to keep working hard in the gym and see what fights get put to me and if they make sense I’ll take them as it stands he’s not on my list.”
Fielding firmly believes that another world title shot can come his way. Sandwiched in between he hopes to fight at Anfield (home to Liverpool Football Club) on a show which Eddie Hearn is rumoured to be putting on next spring/summer headlined by former Fielding foe Callum Smith.
Smith and Canelo are the two gentlemen to have bested Fielding in his nine-year career to date. In that time he has seen title success in the form of winning Prizefighter, the English 168lbs title, Commonwealth, British and WBA honours. It’s a collection of prizes that some never achieve and perhaps some thought Fielding wouldn’t either. His heavy hands and willingness to step in and fight at short notice and to take on the best possible fights out there have made him a recognisable figure on the British circuit and one who is now established at world level.
The realisation of what he has won and the position it has put himself in has reminded him that he can pull back the reins on doing anything and everything to get the big fights. To a degree, thanks to the win in Germany and his time in New York against Canelo, there is an argument that certain fights can come to him. And, like many fighters across the world nowadays, with MTK and Matchroom standing behind him he can feel even more confident that opportunities will come his way.
“While I was away I did think get about getting straight back in but it was too early to do the same again and go back to what I had done before. I definitely wanted to come back to get into the big fights and get back to winning ways. I do look at my career now: winning Prizefighter, winning the English title, defending it, won the Commonwealth and defended it, the British, the world and then I fought Canelo. Because of the only high profile fight being Canelo, and losing to Canelo, no-one’s seen what I’ve been going through and or paid attention to what I’ve won but they have seen the fact I’ve lost two fights who went on to be world champions.
“At the same time I just didn’t want to say ‘I can sit off now, I’m done now’. I have to get back to winning ways. I just wanted to switch off for a few months. If I’m gonna do something I’ve got to give it 100% and if I don’t I can’t do it. I was thinking ‘Have I done what I expected?’ Well I’ve done more. How can I beat Madison Square Garden and fighting Canelo? Even though I lost I loved it all, I was a part of it all and it was great. I was getting a bit of stick for fighting at Madison Square Garden but that was my choice. There is big fights out there for me and I do believe I can get in there and get another world title, get in and mix with the best. Canelo’s in a different league from everyone in my division [should he come back down to 168] but I believe I can get back in there with all the top super middleweights.”