After a top grade five and a half year pro apprenticeship, boxing fans should finally discover whether Manchester lightweight Terry Flanagan has the tools and fortitude to cut it in major title class next weekend.
The 25 year old southpaw has already bagged Prizefighter and English titles whilst running up a perfect 24 fight slate (eight stoppages).
On Saturday 26th July on the mega promotion at Manchester’s Phones 4u Arena, ‘Turbo Terry’ faces off with Walsall’s battle hardened Martin Gethin in what could evolve into a mini boxer vs scrapper classic.
Tickets and VIP packages are available through Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or eventim.co.uk
Watch the whole action packed card – headed by Fury-Chisora, also featuring Billy Joe Saunders challenging for the vacant European middleweight title, plus title action involving stars Liam Smith and Liam Walsh – tune into BoxNation, the Channel of Champions (Sky Ch.437 (HD490)/Sky Ch.546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Glynn Evans caught up with Flanagan ahead of his big night.
Why does nobody want to fight Terry Flanagan?
Because he’s a tricky, strong, awkward southpaw who always comes to fight.
You won and retained the English title back in 2012. You beat good men such as Derry Mathews and Gary Sykes to win a Prizefighter competition also in 2012, and stopped ex world champion Nate Campbell in 2013. How long have you been ready for a major title fight?
For a good while. I was ready a year ago probably, but I’m even more ready now. I’m more of a man strength wise than I was this time last year and I’ve had more 12 round spars with quality people, guys like Kevin Mitchell, Ricky Burns and Gary Sykes. Anyone and everyone.
(Did they bash you up?!) Did they heck. I do the bashing!
It’s been frustrating but I’m here now, fighting for the British title on a huge show in my home town so I don’t want to dwell negatively on the past.
Ex amateur opponent Paul Butler won the IBF World Bantamweight world title last month. Were you surprised that he went on to achieve that?
I think we fought three times in total. I beat him and was robbed twice (laughs!). It was a long, long time ago. We were only about 11 or 12 and have both gone on to do well. I certainly knew he was a good kid; a neat, tidy boxer.
I wasn’t surprised that Paul beat Stuey Hall that night. He’s a quality fighter.
Initially you were primed to challenge Liverpool’s Derry Mathews – an able and established champion – for the British title. From your part, was it a good thing or a bad thing when he withdrew and left you to contest the vacant title?
I’d rather have won the title off Derry. He’s a bigger name than Martin and beating him in style would really have put me up there.
Derry says he was injured but I heard that he might be lined up for a European title shot. I think he knew if he defended against me, it’d be the end for him. If I come through this, who knows, we might still do it. I’m not too fussed.
In what ways have you needed to modify your training schedule to accommodate replacement Martin Gethin at short notice?
Well, I think Derry would’ve tried to box me whereas Martin will come for a fight. So it’s been a case of getting my sparring partners to be aggressive and have a war. I prefer it when the opponent comes to have a ‘tear-up’. It’s far easier for me to get my boxing off.
You’re yet to travel past round ten and Martin notoriously finishes strongly over the 12 round course. Is that a worry? What precautions have you taken to prepare yourself for a hard distance fight?
I know everyone says that sparring is different but I’ve been training for 12 round fights for years now. I’m confident in my condition to do the distance easily. I’ve done it in the gym many times. I’m a young, strong, fit lad, aren’t I?
I don’t think Martin increases his work rate. He just maintains his output while some of his opposition has tired. I won’t.
What’s your assessment of Gethin? Have you fought anyone similar? What have you identified as his qualities and shortcomings?
Martin’s definitely a fit lad who always comes to fight but he doesn’t have the best boxing ability and can’t change much. I’ve sparred plenty similar. You always know what you are getting. He’s pretty basic.
He just walks forward and tries to swarm the opposition but I’ll walk him onto big shots. He probably thinks that he’ll start to get to me in the later rounds. He’s got another thing coming!
You’re debuting at 12 round championship level, against arguably your toughest opponent, before your home fans. A lot of pressure!
Nah, fighting at home, having loads rooting for me, will be a big advantage. I’ve sold about 250 tickets. When that bell goes there’s only me and him in the ring.
I’m excited, not daunted. Can’t wait. Almost there!
How do you anticipate the fight unfolding and why are you confident that you win?
I’d prefer to finally do the 12 rounds and I’ve definitely prepared for that but I think I’m going to knock him out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m expecting it to be very hard but I’ll walk him onto shots and I punch harder than he does.
I know he’s got more stoppages but that’s cos he wears ‘em down, then gets to ‘em. My power has improved a lot over the last 12 months. Either way, dance or fight, I beat Gethin.
Domestically, lightweight is a fabulous division with top quality fighters with some potentially great defences ahead if you can triumph on Saturday week!
Definitely but I’m not about to start shouting people out. They’re all great fighters. I’d say that lightweight is the best division in Britain at the moment and it’d be easy to get up for fights against any of those that you’ve mentioned.
Ultimately, how far can you go?
You know, when I started out as a kid, all I ever wanted was a British title. But as you progress and develop, your ambitions and goals change. Hopefully, one day, I’ll get to fight for a world title. I definitely think I’m good enough.
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