By Anson Waiwright
(*Interview conducted this past Thursday).
The super middleweight division has long been a happy hunting ground for British fighters with the likes of Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins, and Joe Calzaghe over the years all winning world titles and making names for themselves.
Currently the domestic scene is buzzing with the likes of Carl Froch, George Groves and James DeGale all fighting at world level. Further back current commonwealth champion Rocky Fielding is striving to add his name to the mix.
Before the 26 year old puncher can reach that level he had to get passed grizzled Ghanaian veteran Charles Adamu, who he meets this Saturday in a commonwealth title fight.
"It’s a good fight for me." Fielding would tell Maxboxing.com over the phone "Charles is someone who can take me the rounds, cause he’s been the rounds with the likes of (Carl) Froch, Isaac Chilemba, so he’s done a few twelve round fights so it’s the kind of fight I need at this time in my career."
A win for Fielding (17-0, 10 knockouts) could well set up a fight for local bragging rights with fellow Liverpudlian Paul Smith.
"I got made mandatory (challenger for the British title) and it’s the fight that I need. If it’s the British title against Paul then I’m ready, I’m ready now. If that option comes up we’ll take it for the summer." said Fielding.
Along with the Fielding-Adamu, the Sky Sports 2 event from the Echo Arena, Liverpool, England is headlined by Tony Bellew’s cruiserweight debut against Valery Brudov. Also on the undercard will be lightweight Kevin Mitchell and welterweight Kell Brook who look to stay busy ahead of muted world titles shots this summer. The action gets underway in the United Kingdom at 7PM.
Anson Wainwright - On Saturday you face experienced Charles Adamu, what are your thoughts on that fight and what it means to your career?
Rocky Fielding - It’s a good fight for me. Charles is someone who can take me the rounds, cause he’s been the rounds with the likes of (Carl) Froch, Isaac Chilemba. He’s done a few twelve round fights so it’s the kind of fight I need at this time in my career, someone who can give me the rounds and who I can look good against. I’ll probably learn a load out of it because he’s a tough guy, comes forward and comes to win. He’s a former commonwealth champion himself so he’ll probably want to get the belt back.
AW - Adamu on paper is probably the toughest fight of your career to date, he’s fought many top guys Carl Froch, George Groves, Isaac Chilemba etc. he’s only been stopped once, are you looking to make a statement by adding your name to that short list?
RF - With our tactics, it’s more getting the rounds in, then down to me whether I feel I can up the pace and take him out. That would show I’m in the next level of moving up. He’s only been stopped once by George Groves, apart from that he’s been rounds with top guys or he’s won by stoppage. I’m hoping to get a good performance in and if I get a stoppage before the sixth round when George stopped him then it’s a bonus. I’m going in there prepared for a tough twelve round fight with him. I’m going in there to use my boxing skills and look good if it comes it comes, if it doesn’t I get the rounds in and the benefit of that.
AW - If you win there is also the added bonus of the possibility that you may get ranked by the sanctioning bodies.
RF - Yeah, that’s what the next move was. Even if it was for this bill to try and get an Intercontinental title, like a WBO or IBF, something that will get me a world ranking. But it’s about getting the defense of the commonwealth title now, getting the win. Then we can sit down with Eddie (Hearn) and we can plan the next move. I’d be happy to get a good fight where I can get a world ranking, this time next year there could be the chance to fight for a world title and I’ll have the ranking to do it. That’s a route I have my eye on.
AW - In your most recent fight you stopped Luke Blackledge in a single round, can you tell us about that fight?
RF - He’d been on twitter and he was always giving me stick on the opponents that I’ve boxed and that I haven’t boxed anyone and that he wants to fight me and he’ll beat me. At the time I didn’t feel it was an opponent who I’d get anything out of, I knew I could beat him. I was umming and ahhing with Eddie to take it, saying it does nothing for me. It’s a defense, he’d be up for it cause it’s a title fight but at the time I didn’t like him for the stick he was giving me on twitter and I didn’t think he deserved it.
Anyway it got made, I knew I could beat him, I knew I could take him out. It was just getting the tactics right with Oliver (Harrison) my trainer, we sat down and went over the tactics in the changing room, keep it long, box his head off, he rushes in so make him miss and then counter him, it was the perfect shot on the chin. He was a game fighter, he was saying he had (sparred) a good fifty rounds with Carl Froch before the Groves fight. He sparred (Tony) Bellew, Paul Smith. People said it was a 50-50 fight but I knew, people around me knew he wasn’t in my league. I got the win, I didn’t get much praise after, I’m not that interested in that but I got the win and I can move on and keep improving.
AW - It’s rumoured that if you overcome Adamu Saturday that you and Paul Smith will unify the British and Commonwealth titles in a local grudge match?
RF - I think now the fights I’ve had over the last year and the improvements I’m making, it’s giving me a lot of confidence, the powers coming. I got made mandatory (challenger for the British title) and it’s the fight that I need. If it’s the British title against Paul then I’m ready, I’m ready now. If that option comes up we’ll take it for the summer.
It’ll be a good fight in Liverpool for the scouse fans, it’s a fight people have talked about for the last 18 months and we know we’d sell the Echo Arena out, but there’s a big bill Froch-Groves nationally it’s a big fight on the undercard. It wouldn’t be fair on the city (of Liverpool) cause not many could get down and see it live but it’s one of those things and if it comes off I think I’m ready to take it.
AW - Could you talk us through your younger days, how you became interested and then took up boxing through into your amateur career?
RF - I played football (soccer) at first, I was a good footballer. My dad got into boxing at 30 years of age, a late age. I went over with him to the gym, Stockbridge ABC, I started when I was 9. I went their just to get off the streets and to learn to box and then when I was 11 I got my first fight, I think I won my first 7, 8 fights, I was made up. It went from there, I got picked to box for England a few times. I won junior ABA titles, I was in the England squad, I trained all week then on the weekend, we’d go down to Crystal Palace or Sheffield and do training there and get looked after. I had 70 odd amateur fights.
I boxed twice in the ABA’s and lost to the same lad (Lawrence Osueke) twice on count back, I thought I won at least one of them but it was in his hometown. It was a draw then double count back and it was in Newcastle (Osueke’s hometown) so there’s nothing you can do. I got to the final of the ABA’s. So I was waiting around and then decided to turn professional. The only thing I didn’t do was go to the commonwealth of Olympic games, I boxed for England, I won the four nations, I went to Jordan at multi nations, I boxed against Ireland a couple of times.
AW - You had only three pro fights when you entered and won Prizefighter a couple of years ago, in many way that was a springboard for your career?
RF - They said if you get an ABA title promoters will be interested in you, so I didn’t get the ABA title so I had to start on the small hall shows with Oliver my trainer who puts shows on. I had to sell tickets that’s how I earned a wage. I had to build my career up that way. I’d only been professional 8 or 9 months and we got the call from Prizefighter and Kenny Anderson pulled out and I was asked if I wanted to take the spot.
We sat down, spoke and we had nothing to lose, it was more to gain. If I get win it I springboard, if I don’t at least I’ve got my face on Sky in front of Matchroom, a promoter who can see my skills and that I can sell tickets. You’ve got to take chances like that.
The money was great but it was more about getting the exposure and getting the doors open for promoters to look at me and sign. I was made up with the way it happened, three knockouts, I was happy the doors opened. I wasn’t ready for title fights, I was still doing 4 and 6 rounds after that. I had to take a step back and get back to learning in the gym. It was a nice opportunity and I had to grab it so I was made up I did it.
AW - Your gym mate is Martin Murray, has twice fought for the middleweight world title, have you how has having that world class sparring helped.
RF - Definitely, I knew Martin since the amateur days. Since I trained with Oliver 3 or 4 years ago, I’ve been paired up with Martin. As the years have gone on, I’ve needed him as a sparring partner for my fighters and he’s needed me for his fights. The sparring is brilliant, I’m with a fighter who’s fought for world titles and the experience he’s brought back from those world title fights, then for me to spar him, I’ve learned so much. I can’t ask for better sparring, he can adapt to any style if he needs to.
AW - The super middleweight division is bustling domestically as well as on the world scene. What are your thoughts on the division?
RF - The division domestically is what I have my sites on, as you look at the rankings on boxrec.com, you have (Carl) Froch, (George) Groves, (James) DeGale, (Paul) Smith then me. I’m looking at where they are and it’s where I wanna be. Hopefully when Froch retires I can fill his shoes and sell out arena’s and fight for world titles in my hometown, get over to (Las) Vegas and do the fights there. It’s a good division, there’s lad underneath me who are coming through.
It’s about yourself in boxing, you’ve got to plan what route to go down. Obviously Froch, Groves, DeGale aren’t on my sites cause they’re ahead of me but there’s different routes I can go down and eventually we could meet a few years down the line.
AW - What are your thoughts on the Carl Froch-George Groves rematch and who will win?
RF - I think it’s fair that they’re having the rematch. From round one, Groves was giving Froch a bit of a boxing lesson for the first couple of rounds and Froch experience kicked in in the later rounds.
The rematch is brilliant, especially being at Wembley, it gives fighters like us if we’re on the undercard the big exposure.
I don’t know who’ll win this time. I think it’s personal now, they don’t like each other, they could just do each others heads in and it could just come to the fight and tactics go out the window in front of 80,000 people and they just fight. Froch likes a good fight so he’ll have to start quick and put it on Groves early and Groves can stick to what he did last time or change it around. It’s going to be a good fight but I’m happy to sit ringside and watch it and whoever wins wins.
AW - You go by Rocky, however your first name is Michael, what’s the back story?
RF - It’s been since I was born. I think I was about ten pound when I was born and my dad’s mate was there at the birth and as he’s grabbed hold of me he felt the weight of me and he’s called me the Rock and as the years went on it stuck. It doesn’t come from boxing, I’ve been called Rocky from the day I was born and it’s mad that I turned out to be a boxer.
AW - Tell us about your life away from boxing?
RF - Since I turned professional, I like mostly spending time with my girlfriend and family. On a Sunday I go watch the lads play for the Oak Tree, sometimes I get a little half hour. Otherwise go out for meals, chill out. I’m always training or going to boxing shows, if I’m not boxing I’m at all the shows near enough, I watch Martin (Murray) box, I watched Darren Barker box in Germany. That’s it I’m just a normal guy who likes normal things, playing pool, snooker, darts, nights out with the lads.
AW - In closing do you have a message for the super middleweight division?
RF - Nothing really, they can do their thing and I’ll do mine, no message. I’m not going to say I’m coming for you or anything like that. If we fight, we fight I wish them well.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright