2019 is going to be an exciting year!
On 9th December 2017, I had a loss against Caleb Truax and this triggered a crossroads in my career. I’m not gonna lie – the months that followed were hard! Lots of self-doubt, consideration as to whether I still had it and reflection on what I could have done differently.
I had to also reflect on my body and the shoulder injury that I underwent surgery for in late 2017. Had I gone back into the ring too soon and not fully recovered? Could be but that’s me, my mistake, I always learn the hard way!
Then followed lots of speculation about my trainer. When fighters have a loss, people immediately blame the trainer. That’s not the way it works. Me & Jim are a team – we’ve been together from the beginning and we’ll be together to the END!
So we set to work to analyse the training routine and we made a few changes. We swapped the running for non-impact alternatives, did a lot of work on an AirDyne and we replaced the long endurance sessions with high intensity intervals. We also had an introduction to Paulie Malignaggi and Pauli came onboard as a mentor and a second pair of eyes. To date this combination works and he’s a welcome addition to the team.
The rematch with Truax was set for 27th April 2018 in Vegas and we were to fight on the undercard for Lara vs Hurd. I had a lot to prove and my key focus was to win the fight and get the title back! On reflection, I didn’t look or feel at my best but the main thing was that I won the title.
With the title back in my hands, I made the decision to relinquish the title and this isn’t a decision I made lightly. No world champion easily gives up their title. I’ve held the IBF title in two reigns with pride and distinction but knowing that I was entering the final phase of my career with a few good years left, I felt that I could have 2-3 big fights and really leave a legacy in the division's history. And so I gave up the title.
Summer came and I had a break from training and also fixed a couple of niggling injuries. For years I thought I had caused issues on my feet for wearing my shoes too small but it turned out that I had an Achilles problem -Tendinitis so I had to get that sorted. Years of running and track work had taken its toll!
After a short break, I went back into training and headed to Cyprus for a mini training camp with Jim and my S&C coach, Nick. I knew I would be fighting in September and after discussing several opponents, a fight was agreed against Fidel Monterrosa Monoz. We fought in Ontario, California and I secured a knock out in round 3 – it was a confidence boost and I was mentally and physically recharged and ready for the next challenge.
Nothing in boxing is ever smooth in terms of agreeing fights with so many variables on the opponent, the date, TV rights and venue amongst other things so I was given a date in December which then moved to January and then moved to February. This is probably one of the most frustrating things as a boxer to have the goal posts moved when you’ve been training and your raring to go. It is what it is!
So that brings us up to the current moment … the next fight DeGale vs Eubank at the O2 on 23rd February.
I am so excited to be fighting again – can’t wait to get back into the ring and start 2019 with a bang!