So I get offered a fight with 3 weeks to prepare.
I had been training prior to this but my club was only open one day a week for two hours and I was doing no exercise outside at the time. On top of that, I was drinking heavily and smoking a fair amount of weed as well – little did my trainer know. I took the boat as I’ve always been one to listen to myself and not others, whether it be right or wrong.
The night before the fight I’m down the local boozer, strictly on the beer, no whisky and headed home around ten for an early bath, trying to be sensible. I couldn’t switch off so I decided to roll a spliff from the weed I bought to smoke after the match. Bang, I’m asleep. RING RING! The alarm goes off, FIGHT DAY!
Shit, I’m not fit, I haven’t had a good calibre of sparring partners. A sinking feeling -I’M FUCKED!
That weed the night before was messing with my paranoia big time! I rang my trainer:“Are you sure he’s no bigger than 65kgs?” – Now in a boxing ring, you’re supposed to only allow for 3kgs difference and I’m 62kgs at the time.
“Yeah definitely Joey, nothing to worry about, you’ll piss it!”
Not what I wanted to hear, I know I sound like a shitter but this was my second full-contact fight, five years after my first and I was getting so wrecked at the time I wasn’t thinking straight about anything, or taking anything seriously.
I was scared and knew I’d fucked up taking this on. I picked up the poster again, trying to figure out who I’m going to fight…
Now I’m thinking it has to be one of the bottom rows as it’s my second real fight. I had a light breakfast consisting of beans on toast, thinking as long as I don’t weigh in at 62kgs I might not have to fight. I’d like to add I’m aware that I was being one selfish bastard as this was my opponents big day and I guarantee he’d been working hard to prepare.
I light a fag and phone up me mate Craney, asking him for a lift to my club so I can meet my trainer and get to the venue, it was in Heathrow so I couldn’t expect me mates to attend and to be fair I wasn’t exactly encouraging people. Being the true gent that he is, Craney offers to drive me all the way down there, so I had a word and got him in for free.
Inside, the ring is being put together, the lights are going up, tears being constructed for seating and I’m thinking to hang on, this ain’t some dirty, spit and sawdust working man’s club like I fought in before, this show is big!
My day is getting worse but I remain calm on the surface. A loud voice bellows over the room “Fighters yet weigh in, this way!” Fuck, it’s happening, this is it…No way out Joey boy.
I go and squeeze out a poo to try and weigh light as the last chance of escape before joining the queue. A big guy stands on the scales, I recognised him from the top row of the poster, Scott Bryant. He steps off, puts on his top and trousers, walks up to me, shakes my hand and says “Best of luck.” FOR FUCK SAKE, after all, what’s going through my head already, I gotta fight him!
Right, I’m here now and this is happening so what am I going to do about it? It’s a large ring, maybe 20ft square? Lots of space so I’ll keep moving and working my left side-kick. Not an overly powerful move but easy to throw and should prevent him from walking straight in and bashing the bollocks out of me. Anytime he gets close to me just swing like a monkey.
The show begins and I take a seat ringside with Craney. On the subject of names, note I was under the name of ‘Sparks’ at the time, to save you any confusion.
I’m fighting in the eighth bout so I watch the first six and go backstage to warm up. My trainer was also the referee on the night but had to be replaced for my fight to save any favouritism. I strip off, put on my trousers, wrap my hands and take out my nipple ring. After a bit of skipping and padwork I’m sweating like a pig. The announcer begins….
….A guy with a clipboard pops up and says “Oi mate, when ya music starts, stand on the X and let the smoke come out!” Suddenly I hear the beginning of ‘Paris’ by Mstrkrft. I sink my nerves into the pits of my stomach and stand on the cross….
Once inside the ring, he looks even bigger. This is going to be a man against a boy and I’m the boy. Right, keep your hands up and working that side-kick Joe for fuck sake. Here we go. Just DON’T get knocked out…
Apart from that kick in the bollocks I can’t believe it, I’m doing alright, even thinking if I go the right way about it I might even be able to have him up! My corner is saying to keep doing what I’m doing, just relax a bit more. I’m feeling tired already but the adrenaline is carrying me pretty well.
I couldn’t help but feel insulted that he wouldn’t touch gloves at the end of the round but fuck it, all heat of the moment I suppose. I was blowing out my arse by now, my legs and arms felt like they were filled with lead and my chest was on fire. I’m looking at my trainer but I can’t hear a word he’s saying. I breathe deep and try to dig as deep as I can, one more round. I’ve lasted this long, don’t get knocked out…
Somehow, maybe with the gods on my side (Doubtable as I’m an atheist), I got through with little more than a sore jaw and bruised ribs. Scotty deserved the win obviously and speaking to him after found he was a quite a polite and reserved fella. Well done mate, all the best for the future.