By Elliot Foster
Stephen Simmons has insisted that there was no thinking time needed when making the decision to take his next fight.
The Scottish cruiserweight has been handed a surprising opportunity that is an uphill task to say the least –– but it’s one he says will bring “massive rewards.”
Simmons, 14-1 (6 KOs), has won three times on the spin since being stopped by Jon-Lewis Dickinson last year and now takes on his toughest test to date next month.
He will come up against Oleksandr Usyk (9-0, all early) of Ukraine on April 23 in a challenge for the 29-year-old southpaw’s WBO Inter-Continental crown.
“I was only offered this fight last Friday,” Simmons told Boxing Scene. “[It] was a no-brainer [to take the fight].
And although the fight raised a few eyebrows within the boxing fraternity, 31-year-old ‘Simbo’ is going into it full of confidence.
“[I] rang my management team [MGM Marbella] straight away and we discussed it and they were more than happy for me to take the fight because I was buzzing on the phone.”
Simmons revealed that the Usyk chance came about after the original opponent he was offered at the beginning of the year –– Mairis Breidis (19-0, 16 KOs) –– came too soon for him.
“Given the time to get the weight down and be ready for a 12-round fight in February, which is when they wanted the fight, I used my head and said: ‘Not at the moment,’” Simmons continued.
“I was then told that I could possibly fight [Breidis] if he came through his last fight, which he did. But then he ended up getting a final eliminator for the WBC title.”
Beating Usyk, who is the WBO’s mandatory challenger to cruiserweight world champion Krzysztof Glowacki (25-0, 16 KOs), would land Simmons a coveted shot at the world title as well as raise his profile no-end.
“Not only will it give me a go at the world title,” said Simmons, “but it will get me closer to being something I’ve always wanted to be from a young boy.
“My aim from [when I was] a kid was to be a world champion and this would be a massive step forward.
“To prepare, it’s all about carrying on doing what I’m up to at the moment. I’ll obviously train hard and work on some stuff with him being a southpaw, but I’ll have to maintain my weight, which is already great, by eating well and rest hard for recovery.
“[I’ll be] cutting my work back to two times a week to make sure I’m ready,” Simmons concluded, “but I’ll be ready.
“I’m going there to do a job and win, not just making up the numbers.”