Saturday 1st December 2018: three title fights take place at York Hall, but for #TeamSouthpawJab’s Ricky Heavens, there’s a different sporting challenge to overcome. Having suffered his first professional loss to Duane Green last September, “Slick Rick” is looking to put that loss behind him, taking on the awkward Victor Edagha. Facing the loss head on, Heavens asked promoter Steve Goodwin to get him out again ASAP, he got what he wanted, and aims to show mental strength belying his years. “I was gutted (after the loss). I have never been so gutted in my life! But rather than dwell on it I just wanted to get in the gym, make the corrections needed and go again.”
Yesterday was Ricky Heaven’s 21st birthday, but he wasn’t out celebrating it like we all did our own 21st. He’s in the last throes of his training camp, a camp where he has taken the time to correct some wrongs: “I haven’t trained harder as I always give 100%” the likeable Hayes native said. “But I have worked more on certain things which we believe were my downfall last time”.
In the aftermath of Ricky’s lost to Green there were some murmurs where people felt he didn’t have enough about him to make it in the boxing world. But at the time of the fight, Ricky had only had 22 bouts as an amateur and pro and was only 20 years old– not even a man fully grown yet. Heavens is learning on the job. If the Green fight was to have happened in the unpaid ranks, he would have dusted himself off and fought again a few weeks later with no issues, no whispers about giving the sport up. So why are we so quick to do the same to pros? Especially ones like Ricky who are still learning their trade? “I put most of it (the loss) down to inexperience. I judged the pace of the fight completely wrong”
As testament to Ricky’s heart and determination, he has told me he wants a rematch with Green at some point. He wants to prove that he is better than that performance that night. “I took my foot off the peddle too much, trying to make sure I didn’t fade in the later rounds. I took my foot off the peddle and lost my rhythm completely and got dragged into a fight that didn’t suit me. I came out second best” The work that has been put in to ensure that he doesn’t come out second best again will be there for all to see a week on Saturday.
Knowing Ricky how I do (and knowing of the bet he has with Jack Hughes), he’ll no doubt want to score the first stoppage victory of his career, to really emphasise that the Green fight was a blip and not a benchmark. But I know with the corner and team he has around him, a confident display of his boxing skills that got him the nickname “Slick Rick” will be preferred, rather than a wild gun fight to try and get his opponent out of there.
A win next weekend will make his planned birthday trip to Amsterdam more enjoyable, the pizza I’ve promised him more filling and Christmas that bit merrier for the popular Brentford fan.