23-year-old featherweight talent Nick Ball (12-0, 6KOs) , trained by Paul Stevenson at the thriving Everton Red Triangle Gym, spoke exclusively with BBN’s Editor Tim Rickson during lockdown from his Liverpool home.
The amateur champion turned unbeaten pro, who has stopped six from his last seven, revealed that his mindset is as strong as his punching power and how lockdown has taken him back to an old school ‘Rocky style of training’:
Have you been training still?
“Yeah, I’m training still, doing my runs and chopping wood in a farmers field by my house! Yeah, it’s a farmers field but it’s sound to use it, there’s loads of logs on it, so I take my axe and I’ve gone back to an old school, Rocky style!”
How difficult is it to train without something to aim for?
“It’s not hard really because it’s our job to do that anyway. I love training, so to stay focused, there’s just nothing to it; just staying ready, that’s our job, that’s what we should be doing anyway, no matter what.
“This will separate the strong from the weak and show who really wants it. You’ve just got to keep going; lockdown is going to end either way, so all that matters is what you’ve been doing, everyone is going through the same thing, just got to carry on doing what you’re doing.”
Do you count yourself lucky to have been one of few to have fought already this year?
“I’m glad I got a fight in this year because I know some people haven’t, so it’s hard for them. I’m made up I managed to get one in, even just to have one more before the end of the year, I’ll be happy with.
“Financially, it’s probably affecting everyone, and not just in boxing. Definitely is affecting me because if you don’t fight, you don’t get paid. I’m lucky to have good sponsors supporting me through this lockdown.”
You have five fights scheduled for the year; how do you handle the disappointment that they’re not going ahead?
“That’s boxing! Boxing is like that; anything can happen so got to be ready for any situation. I’ve had worse things happen, I remember making my debut and the whole show got cancelled the day before, just got to deal with it, keep at it, we’ll all get there in the end. Some people could feel sorry for themselves and just fall off, but you've ust got to keep at it and carry on.”
Do you think boxing events will return differently after lockdown ends?
“I think they will, I think everything is gonna’ change; the whole world will, not in massive way, but I think people will go about their life a bit different from now on. Everything has got be clean and hygienic, hopefully we’ve been made to appreciate the more important things, so people will appreciate a bit more in life.
“Everyone is going to be paranoid to start with. When lockdown gets lifted, people will be paranoid and worried that this virus is still around or will come back. I think at the start it will be harder to sell tickets, but it could go two ways and everyone might want to get straight back out to watch.”
If life returns to normal within the next month, what would your ideal your plans be for the rest of this year?
“Just get a fight date as soon as possible. Two to three weeks notice and I’m ready, I could fight now! I’ve been training hard every day, so I wanna’ fight straight away. I know it’s going to be hard with everyone’s names going straight on the list, trying to get out at the same time. I’m signed with Frank Warren now, so I’m ready to fight now, but all I need is a date.”
You are part of a talented division in the featherweights with experienced British champion Ryan Walsh and Commonwealth champ Leigh Wood – how far away do you believe you are from mixing it with those more established pros?
“That’s the only experience they’ve got on me – the rounds – in the pros. I’m the fittest in the division, but haven’t done the rounds, so I know I haven’t done 12 rounds but that’s all they’ve got over me at the moment.”
Recently signed to Frank Warren, a perfect record with 12 wins and six KOs; is there any pressure to jump into a title fight very soon?
“I don’t get affected by everyone’s opinion, I’m the one getting in the ring and I know what I can do and when to do it. If I don’t think I can do it, then I may as well get the plastering tools out with my dad! If you listen to everyone else, unless it’s your coach who has a massive impact on you, you’ve got to know yourself what you want to do and what you can do. Only way is by getting in there and getting it done.”
You're from a very talented and tight-knit gym, where you've all come through the amateurs together - is it hard not having that constant interaction with the rest of the lads you're used to seeing every day?
“Paul [Stevenson] has rung me few times to check in and sent videos of fights for me to watch and study. I won’t watch too many fighters, but I like ones similar to my style, like Mike Tyson.
“We all get to the gym at 10am usually, but don’t start training until 10.45 because we sit down and we watch old fights every day together. It’ll be a different fighter or a different highlight reel each day, but usually boxers like Sugar Ray Leonard or Muhammad Ali. Paul talks through it and rewinds it back to pick things out to talk about and show us, so there’s always a meaning behind it. That’s why he’s that good as a coach because he breaks it down and it all makes sense.”
Nick would like to thank his sponsors: The Glenbuck Hotel; NRG Corporation; Hanover Wealth Management; Primary Fluid Power; Master Prep; Taskers Sports.
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