It’s Easter Friday bank holiday morning when I speak to New Cross stylist, John Harding Jr, and most people are sleeping off hangovers as we talk. However, the undefeated middleweight prospect is not planning a day off himself, “I’m gonna train a little later, I’ve got some Easter eggs I’ve got to drop off for my daughter, but that’s about it.” Two weeks out from his sixth fight, on the British Warriors April 14th York Hall show, Harding, known as Pester, is his usual relaxed self, despite a lot going on, “behind the scenes”.
John is referring to the fallout from Isaac Chamberlain’s explosive claims in an online interview, which has since been taken down. John is close to Isaac, in fact until these claims, Miguel’s seemed to have a core of close, happy fighters. However since the video, there has clearly been discord, to use John’s words, behind the scenes. Pester seems unpeturbed,
“Nothing really is new, because I’m always looking out for myself. I know what I need to do. I make sure I get the right training, the right sparring. I’m always down West Ham for sparring. I’m still down Miguel’s, on occasion, I’m close with Leon McKenzie too so he looks out for me. Basically I’ve not made a decision completely.”
Harding is a tough guy, though, and prides himself on his ability to rise to any challenge. The fight in two weeks is his first six rounder, and there’s no nerves, or even excitement really, just a steely determination to get in the ring and prove how good he is. “I’m gonna show what they’ve been talking about in my sparring. I’m gonna show confidence, hand speed and power. I’ll be making statements.”
For a man of Harding’s demeanour, it is no surprise to hear he doesn’t fret about his opponent’s style, either, “first thirty seconds I like to get in there and see what they’re about, I’m quite crafty in there, I adapt.”
“Round for round I just wanna enjoy. Round for round I just want to feel it in there. It’s a six rounder so I can fight for titles after, but if that comes, it comes. The main thing is just the experience of the rounds, you learn so much, every punch, every slip counts: I even want 8, 10, 12 rounds. In sparring I can’t get more than six, they do six and they don’t want more!”
Richard Riakporhe and Chris Kongo, friends of John’s from Miguel’s, appeared on the Dillian Whyte versus Lucas Browne undercard last weekend. John was overjoyed to see his friends make the move to a huge, SKY televised show from small hall fighting, “It’s just beautiful man! I get so happy when I see people I know get to there. I’ve seen their hard graft, Dillian too, he’s got so much love within him, his door is always open.”
John is, of course, aiming for the same transition and is upbeat about it, “I just need to focus on me and what I’m doing. I know my time’s going to come.”
York Hall is much loved, but it is spit and sawdust compared to the gourmet burgers of the O2, and it is where John will continue ply his trade while he learns on the job. Keep winning though, and that juicy looking televised undercard fight becomes more visible. But first thing’s first, April 14th at the famous old venue, John Harding Jr fights again, eager to, “make statements”.
Southpaw Jab would like to wish John the very best of luck on April 14th.
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