The title of this blog is a quote from my Mum taken from a phone call before yesterday’s card in Liverpool. She seemed surprised that when I went to cover boxing, as I have done since 2007, that there was more than one fight!
Some of the best fights for photographs are the undercard scraps. There a decent number of fights I have covered when I have captured an image from one of the earlier fights and uttered the words, “I hope I get one like that in the man event.” Of course, it doesn’t always happen. Boxing is a sport I love. I’m not an anorak. I can’t tell you who won what when or who holds this belt and that. There are too many for me to remember but there are plenty around the sport who do have that passion and knowledge. A good friend Steve Lillis is a name that always springs to mind. It’s as if there is nothing he doesn’t know about the sport and its history. Hello Steve, if you’re reading.
So onto the night itself. I covered 8 of the 9 fights on the card. The 9th happened after the main event in front of a half empty arena and I was still editing pictures from the main fight between Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding. These are the boxers who I always have great admiration for. They have just heard the roar of a full arena and when it comes to their turn, a large percentage of the fans have headed for the exits.
Of the 9, the British Lightweight fight between Scott Cardle and Sean Dodd was an absolute war. A possible fight of the year. I’ve seen fights like this over 5, maybe 6 rounds, but this one went all the way to the 12th, with the referee stopping the fight with just seconds left, much to the annoyance of the Liverpool crowd, who felt their home fighter Dodd had done enough to warrant making it to the scorecards. Cardle had held onto his belt, but not without injury. A large cut above his left eye, the mark of a sport which really is one of the toughest I encounter. The bravery, desire and determination of boxers seems to get brushed aside by those who still see boxers as knuckle draggers. Far, far from it.
And so to the main event. Two Liverpudlians, proud Scousers. Both undefeated. Smith, a clear favourite with many, but Fielding, a boxer who is always capable of springing a surprise as he has such power in his fists. Fielding arrived in the ring first, followed by Smith. I climbed onto the ring apron to get a picture of him walking in (almost getting knocked off as Fielding leant against the ropes!). Callum’s brother Paul Smith used to walk into ‘Real Gone Kid’ by Deacon Blue. Callum’s choice is ‘Wages Day’, by the same band. Of all the bands to choose for a ring walk. Deacon Blue? Really? Well, I’m converted. The place was rocking. How can you not feel confident in yourself with the sound of drums, piano, guitar and screaming pumped up fans ringing in your ears?
The fight exploded after 29 seconds, as Smith put Fielding down for the first time. He would do it again twice more in he first round and the fight was over, with around 15seconds of the first round left. Staggering. All the predictions were for Callum to win, but no-one I know predicted this.
Another side note from the fight was the Smith Family. Callum became the fourth member of the Smith brothers to win a British Title, creating history in doing so. It was a privilege to cover and personally, I hope to cover a good deal more in the future. Congratulations Callum from myself and my son Will, who still remembers being ushered over for you to sign his glove during a recent visit to Gallaghers Gym.