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Craig Poxton: I want that English Title

This Saturday Kell Brook defends his IBF Welterweight World title against his mandatory challenger Kevin Bizier. But on the undercard is an English Title fight that could steal the show: Andy Townend vs Craig Poxton. We caught up with Craig Poxton during fight week, days before the biggest fight of his career

“I’m ready, I’ve got itchy hands! I just want to fight!”

I’d only asked Craig how he was and I could tell he was excited about the fight

“I know this is a cliché and you hear it all the time but I genuinely believe this is the best shape I’ve ever been in. I’m the leanest I’ve been and I feel strong and fit. The hard work’s done now, I’m just trying to relax for a few days before I go to work.”

I asked whether things were different this time round compared to his only other shot at a title, which was for the Southern Area title. A fight Craig lost to the recent interim World Title challenging George Jupp

“Yeah, I know you hear it time and time again but my life outside the ring is a lot better now. I’m very settled and happy outside the ring. Even Matt (Smith, Craig’s trainer) has said that. You can see it in the gym and the way I am in general. I’ve got a buzz about myself and I just feel good”

I’d checked out the odds for the fight, and had also looked at BoxRec to see how the fighters compared to each other. Needless to say the odds were in favour of Townend and BoxRec ranked him 15 places higher that Craig at 12th in the country. With this in mind, I wanted to see whether Craig thought Townend and his team had underestimated him

“Possibly, he’s only seen the Jupp fight and a white collar thing I did before I was licenced. So if he’s going off that he’s in for a bit of a shock. I feel myself that I‘m a more rounded fighter than I was in the Jupp fight; I had bad punch selection, which we’ve worked on. And we’ve just tidied things up. This is a completely different fight to the Jupp fight, so we’ve approached it completely differently.”

Andy Townend is known as “The KO Kid”, and with reason: He’s stopped 10 of the 15 opponents he’s beaten by K.O. This must have factored into how Craig and his team had approached this fight differently, I wanted to see if Craig was willing to tell me how he’s going to deal with Townend’s power

“I’ve got full faith in Matt and his plan of action. We’ve talked to Graham (Everett) and we’ve talked about what I’ve got to do in the fight. I’ve got full faith in them. I’m just looking forward to getting in there and putting it into action.”

As I said at the top of this article, this is the biggest fight of Craig’s career, it’s also in the venue he’s boxed at. I wanted to know whether those factors had any impact on him and the fight

“One of my mates gave me some banter trying to put the frighteners on me a bit saying “What’s it gonna be like in front of 13,000”. It’s a big stage, probably a couple of million on TV and 13,000 at the arena which is good. But once you get in the ring, it’s just you and him. The ring is a very strange place. Everything else just disappears once you get in there and it seems like the biggest place in the world. But there’s one man in front of you; he’s got two arms and two legs and it doesn’t matter if it’s in front of 13,000 or in the local park in front of 2 or 3 people. My focus on the fight is exactly the same”

As always Craig is totally focused on the fight, but I wanted to know whether he had thought about what winning the English title could open him up to. I did mention it could lead to a rematch with George Jupp or even a showdown with the 2015 Boxing Writers’ Club Young fighter of the year Mitchell Smith. But Craig was having none of it

“Obviously there a chance to gate crash the top 10 and make a name for myself but I don’t think about none of that; the rankings and what have you. I’ll have the fight and get on with the job at hand. I want that English title. That’s what I’m here for. When I started boxing as a kid I wanted to win titles. Legitimate titles and the English title is a legitimate one and a good platform to build from.”

With that answer, I wanted to know whether Craig had any fighters that he wanted to fight or was it all about the reward of what they’re fighting for

“I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong, they start comparing themselves to other fighters and calling them out. I’m not interested in any of that. I want to be and do the best that I possibly can. I want to put 100% into the sport and do the best as I can, be the best me I can be. You gotta concentrate on what you’re doing, not what everyone else is. The rest will come.”

With that I was finished with my interview with Craig. I wished him good luck for the fight but he wasn’t finished just yet. He had a few people he wanted to thank

“I wanna thank my team, Matt Smith, Graham Everett, Shamrock Promotions, Geezers boxing who do all my gear and training stuff. The Complete Gym, C. Poxton roofing, Skinsaine Tattoos – that’s a good friend of mine that I’ve known for years. When I started professionally he took a punt on me and backed me when nobody else would. And then we’ve got JME: Advanced Inspections Systems. I’ve had a lot of local support and obviously a huge massive thanks to the fans from Lowestoft and Barnsley, they’ve been brilliant.”

You can see Craig’s challenge for the English Title this Saturday live on Sky Sports. Don’t miss it, it’s gonna be a good one!

Chris Waddams
I've been a boxing fan for as long as I can remember, going back to the fights between Benn/Eubank/Collins and probably even earlier if I think really hard! My favourite boxer growing up was Lennox Lewis, but when he retired it switched to Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe. Away from boxing I'm a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur and I also write a Spurs blog (www.thfc1882.com)
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