Despite being a boxing fan for some years, I came to watching the sport up close and personal relatively late-having been a rugby player, as well as an Arsenal and Millwall attendee. I hadn’t gone to any live boxing but that changed in 2010 when I convinced my then girlfriend to come to a Frank Warren show at Wembley Arena. Looking back, there was some amazing talent on show.
Kell Brook had pulled out due to, officially, injury. Kevin Mitchell (of whom I was a big fan) stepped up as headliner for the WBO Inter-Continental Lightweight Title. Nathan Cleverly, Dereck Chisora, James DeGale, Frankie Gavin, Jamie Cox and all three Walsh brothers were also on the card. That’s an amazing line up. Plus me and the missus became Farmy Army just because they were so fun. Seeing boxing up close, the sweat and blood spraying off the boxers, hearing the shots land, was so much better than TV.
My girlfriend got more into it than expected. Having said prior to the show she wanted to see a knockout, after Chisora forced a beleaguered Carl “The Fridge” Baker into a stoppage she, wild eyed declared “no I want a proper KO, out cold!”. Bloodlust got to her and she got her wish when Kevin Mitchell later lifted Ignacio Mendoza clean off his feet in the second round, leaving the Columbian on the canvas with no chance of getting up. It was exciting, but more than that, it was addictive.
A funny anecdote from the show; two pissed up “geezers” in front of us were giving one of the ring girls grief for how she looked. The toothless idiots were screaming abuse at this woman (to my girlfriend’s annoyance) and after sitting down, one said to the other “but would you though?”, replied by his idiot mate, “Oh yeah definitely”. Fucktards at boxing shows come with the set up, sadly. Don’t be a fucktard, lads.
The addiction extended next to the Mitchell versus Katsidis disappointment, then the Olympics and Joshua, Chisora’s demolishment by David Haye where we were so far away from the ring I could barely see what was happening and ultimately to my first York Hall show. At that, I’d been asked to do a write up, which turned into on camera interviews with no notice. Literally, when I arrived at the venue I was told here’s your camera team, talk to the winner after each bout. It was terrifying, but I loved it.
I still love it. I miss having my lovely suit covered in blood. I miss having boxers, flying from a win talk to me. I miss taking notes and being so close you can smell the sweat. I miss York Hall, Albert Hall, the O2 Arena, Wembley and oh so many gyms. Boxing is back, and my first taste was my gateway into how closely I work in the sport now. I cannot wait to wallow in the sheer savagery up close again. Here’s to you heroes making the shows happen again.- welcome back.