National amateur champion, Leon Hann, 28-years-old from Rainham, Kent, has recently signed professional contracts with Boxing Connected.
Known to his army of fans as ‘Iron Man’, the 154-pounder has built up a considerable fan base during his unlicensed career that saw him reach 25 fights unbeaten.
He reflected on his extensive experience in the sport, “I’m starting pro a little bit later than I would have liked. I first started boxing when I was seven, had about 28 amateur fights, won a couple of national titles, then moved over onto the unlicensed circuit when I was 18.
“I first started under KBO, then they developed into the WBU, which was labelled as semi-pro boxing. All the shows were held around Sittingbourne and Canterbury, so all fairly local to me. I had probably about 25 fights and won their WBU World title, which used to be a world governing body. I was fighting at super-middleweight and I knocked out all my opponents, bar one.”
He went on to explain why he waited so long to finally turn over, “I started getting offers to turn pro when I was 19, so we have left it quite a while. From 19 onwards, I had offers every year, but then I took two years out for personal reasons. It has just always been one of those things, where you sort of almost question yourself a bit; I always loved boxing and been told I’m good at it, but never been quite sure whether the pros would be something I could go far in. It’s only really the last couple of years that we’ve thought that everyone is telling us we can do it and go far, so it’s now or never really.”
Trained by Paul Wiffen, Hann aims to drop down two weight classes during his transition to the paid ranks, “I’m going to be fighting at super-welterweight in the pros. I’ve been with Paul for the last five years and we’re going into it to win titles.”
He then described his fighting style, “I’m a southpaw but I wouldn’t say I’m a conventional southpaw. In the amateurs, you’re always taught the typical way of fighting – counter attacking on the backfoot – but I’m actually more of a come-forward fighter, which shows on my records with all my KOs; we like to work the angles and pile the pressure on a bit.”
Hann’s success in a vest as a two-time national champion cannot be questioned, but the new and somewhat skeptical trend of semi-professional boxing has fight fans divided, but Hann rushed to the defence of the standard of the league that he boxed in by assuring, “It is really good! The good thing about the WBU is that they try to emulate the pros as much as they can, so the title fight was scheduled for 12 rounds but over two minutes instead of three. They get fighters from up and down the country, so not just local lads, and I’ve fought guys from Liverpool and all over; and they have a lot of ex pros that compete too. I fought Paul Dyer, he was a Southern Area champion from Portsmouth. That was a title defence that I did against him and he was a decent calibre, only stopped a couple of times in his pro career, obviously he’s older now and not been a pro for some time, but I stopped him in the second round.”
Hann was offered a multitude of options to turn pro and actually agreed to a deal, prior to his agreement with Boxing Connected, but it never really came to fruition.
He elaborated, “So, the initial signing over was a mixture of things really; when I first signed with Joey Pyle, I had a few personal problems come up and so did my manager as well so it sort of fell by the wayside a little bit, neither of us really had the time to invest so had to make a judgement call and it was just bad timing for all of us.
“I also signed with Alfie Warren but had trouble getting sponsors and sorting my medicals and stuff like that, but with Joe Elfidh he’s put the time in and helped me out with getting everything in place and the relationship is there straight away because I’ve known Joe since the amateurs so it makes sense for both of us.”
Hann is hopeful he can make his pro debut in May when Boxing Connected are planning on bringing their small hall shows back for the first time in a year.
If allowed, Hann believes he will have a large support in attendance, “I built up a hefty following over the amateurs and unlicensed so on my pro debut I’m expecting good numbers!”
Promoter Joe Elfidh added, “Paul Wiffen is known for getting his boys in top form, he’s been in the fight game for a long time, so he’s in perfect hands with Paul. He knows the game inside out, he’s one of the better trainers out there that I work with.
“Leon wants to push on and make up for lost time. He’ll be out on the first show we do when restrictions get lifted in mid-May.”
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