Belfast, LA and the world of last-minute panic
In the lead up to my next few fights, this weekly blog will detail the life of a boxer at the other end of the food chain, how I train, how I live and the real life stories of an athlete blindly chasing a dream.
Hello from LA! Apologies for not blogging last week — I had a turbulent lead up to the fight, as the next few paragraphs will show, so was focusing on other things. Delighted to get the win, great night, no knockout but we’re getting there. The 4 or 5 days leading up to it are exactly what its like to be a boxer —lots of last-minute panics, and changes — wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.
Its Tuesday September 12th, four days before my 13th fight. I’m actually sitting at home pretty excited, my phone rings — “Stevie — your bloods are out of date, you cant fight on Saturday without them”. What? Why haven’t I been told this earlier? What do I do now? So yes, my bloods were out of date. As part of a boxing licence you need to have clear bloods checked, submitted and cleared every 12 months — which I hadn’t. Phone call over and its looking like my last eight weeks of training for September 16th is going to be wasted. I made a few calls and was told if I could get my bloods taken asap there was a 50% chance they would be ready and cleared by Friday which was the deadline. So in I went and started the process, and then the waiting game begins.
Those 72 hours are weird — you’re trying to focus on the fight, but there’s also that thought in the back of your head that you won’t be fighting at all. I’ve sold tickets, have friends and family coming to Belfast, when and how do I let them know if its off? On Friday, about 30 minutes before the deadline I got the all clear — its something I won’t be letting happen again, but good lesson to learn.
Fight Night — how did it go? Up to Belfast I went, weighed in on the day, broke the scales, off to rehydrate, get some food, get ready for the fight. I wasn’t fully sure when I was on so dropped into see my family and friends in the hotel adjoining the venue at around 6pm. Its surreal for people walking by that I’m sitting there around a table of pints in my fight tracksuit, and then 90 minutes later am in the ring — that’s the beauty of the small hall shows.
At around 7.30pm I got the nod, and this is where it gets interesting. My opponent was in the ring first, then I’m in. I get into the ring, take a look across and realise — this isn’t the guy I’m supposed to be fighting. I had been preparing for a Czech guy, similar height to myself, not in great shape, and up for a scrap. What I got was a Latvian boxer, about 6 inches taller than me, in good shape, long and rangy. I turned to Michael my coach and said “This isn’t who I’m supposed to be fighting” and he just looked at me and said “Well you better get used to him because he needs to be beaten”. I had actually bumped into my opponent Edgars Sniedze in the bathroom earlier, he was wearing his fight shorts and a t-shirt that said Latvia on it. Not realising this was the man I was about to fight I thought to myself “He looks rough enough, wouldn’t fancy being in with him”. There I was, six yards away from him, the bell goes and we’re off.
So what about the fight? Six rounds, not drained, feeling fresh and bulling to get a knockout after a frustrating few months. Probably trying too hard from the start, I needed to take my time to figure out my new found foe. Instead of being smart and patient I was firing wild left handers at points hoping for the KO, but overall loads of good stuff. Its my first fight with my new team and I loved it — I felt really comfortable in there, and was pleased that I could adapt. Having 60 seconds to prepare for an opponent and making those adjustments will set me in good stead for when I have 8/10 weeks.
So now as I write I’m currently in Los Angeles — more on that next week, but I flew over 48 hours after the fight to spend 10 days in the world renowned Wildcard Gym with Freddie Roach. We’d have family ties with Freddie and if you want to learn then this probably is the best place in the world to that. I’m sparring here, getting good coaching and a change of scenery as well. Usually fighters would take a break of a week or two after fights but I’ve big plans for the very near future so want to keep the engine running and the momentum going to get to where I want to be.
My hopes for the remainder of 2017 are pretty straightforward. There’s some big cards in Belfast in particular, and I want to be on one of them. Ryan Burnett fights for a World Title next month, Carl Frampton will have a homecoming fight as well at some point pre-Christmas. I’d love to be in a good, competitive fight on one of these cards. So until then I’ll keep plugging away, but for now I’m off to meet Floyd Mayweather for coffee in Starbucks, greatness recognises greatness, I just hope he’s buying, cos I cant afford it just yet!