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Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

January 20, 2017

Out of the shadows

Callum Smith

Fighting tomorrow night on ITV has done wonders for Robbie Davies Jnr's career already.

by Shaun Brown

Robbie Davies Jnr. says he's a "myth". And despite having a laugh when he describes his standing in boxing that will all change tomorrow night in Preston. The charismatic 27-year-old Scouser leads the charge in 2017 for bringing boxing back to ITV in a show that he headlines late replacement (for Willie Limond) Zoltan Szabo. Davies Jnr spoke to Talking Boxing about being on ITV, his profile, the current state of his weight division (140lbs) and much more.

TB: Your 2016: Three fights, three wins, 12 rounds for the first time, picked up a belt as well.

RDJ : It was a good year for me, but I wasn’t as active as I would’ve like to have been. I had a few little niggles that were setting me back that needed sorting out. If you look at the timeframe of my fights there’s like a 6-7 month gap in between and that was the reason behind it. I stayed in the gym doing what I could but I never want to fight unless I’m 100%. We got back on our feet before the end of the year and we basically got that out the way, now we get one in early in for this year.

TB: These niggles, what were they?

RDJ: It was something to do with running, within my legs. It was just something so random. It was a little pain that I just had to get rid of. It was something I probably did years ago when I was a kid playing football. Over calcified over the years, and it was restricting movement so we had to get that sorted, and then once that was sorted I was back to normal again. It was only the space of a few weeks but at the timeframe when it was I was meant to be fighting John Wayne Hibbert. I was just going to get a cortisone and fight him, but when that fell through there was no-one to fight, no-one around so they thought you might as well get it sorted now while you’ve got a bit of time. Got that sorted, got another fight in before Christmas and we’d look on for early 2017 and that’s what we’ve done.

TB: With things getting stepped up in your career how active do you want to be in 2017?

RDJ: I’d be happy if I got four-12 round fights. Obviously when you’re at the elite level they only have one or two, but while I’m still young and fresh... I’m keen to get more fights. At my age you’re learning. I’m looking to progress. I’m still looking for that household name who everyone knows. I’ve beat some good fighters. I’ve beat a French champion, I’ve beat an Argentinian champion but to get your credit in Britain you need to be fighting some of the fighters that British people know. For me personally it’s been hard to pin someone down. It’s been the managers not wanting to put them in with me or there’s TV rights and things like that, your show or our show. There’s been a few things in the way or someone else has been offered the fight, easier than me, but similar money so they go with that one instead. For instance John Wayne Hibbert was getting more money to fight me, was set up with me, getting ready to sign the contract but then got offered the Tommy Coyle fight for less money and he thought: ‘I’d rather take that instead’, and they f****d us off. Not even an excuse! Just: ‘We’re fighting him instead’ (laughs).

TB: Safe to say that people see you as a high risk.

RDJ: High risk, low reward because everyone’s like: 'We haven’t seen him yet so you take the risk first.' I’m like a myth! Everyone just hears of me knocking everyone out but no-one’s seen me. It’s frustrating because I think when people get to know me, I’m easy going and I’ve got time for everyone that’s got time for me, but you’ve got these kids on telly with a chip on their shoulder like the world owes them something and I hate watching that. I’m like: ‘Why are you like that? Look at what you’re getting!’ All this promotion, all this TV and you’re slandering your own name where I just want to get on there and just be me. Just get in there and give it my all.

TB: So is 2017 all about staying active, getting that big British opponent and possibly even a shot at the British title?

RDJ: The (British boxing) board have got their rules there, and they’ve got a few people they put in front first and things like that, but until my name pops up I’m just going to keep working away doing what I’m doing. But like now, because I’m six in the world (with the WBA), I’m not saying I’d ever turn the British down by all means, but by the time the board come round to it I might even be mandatory for a world title. Three-four fights time, saying what I’d like to have this year, touch wood I win them all I could be knocking on the door. Then you think do I risk fighting for the British when I could be fighting for the world? With the boxing every six months it changes. Someone gets beat, someone’s got a belt, someone’s moved in, someone else moved out. You’ve just got to take it as it comes for now and take each fight as it comes. I found out Willie Limond pulled out and I was absolutely gutted over that. I’m not saying this kid (Zoltan Szabo) is as good as Willie but you’re prepared for a certain type of fighter. I know this guy bounces off the ropes and will try and bounce through my legs dipping all over the place slipping and sliding. Willie was a box fighter and would’ve been right in front of me. Your preparation for one fight has gone out the window and now you’ve got to focus on someone else.

TB: What’s your thoughts on the 140lbs scene in the UK?

RDJ: I think it’s bouncing but there’s been two mandatories for the British champion (Tyrone Nurse) and neither of them have boxed him. It’s becoming one of them weights where no-one wants to fight each other, and I’m sitting here in the shadows calling out everyone trying to get a fight (laughs). It all swings in roundabouts. Maybe when I get on TV and I build my profile a little bit, and they maybe see a bad night at the office and maybe think: ‘Oh, I can take him now’. Not saying I’m ever going to have a bad night! Sometimes you see someone a few times, and you see something, and think I can get to that there. That’s a shot I can land there. People start getting more confident. Obviously if you go out and destroy someone they say: 'F**k that!' (laughs). You’ve just got to see how each fight comes. Say from now I fight on Saturday, God knows how it’s going to go and then three months later you might be ringing me up and talking about me fighting one of the people we’ve spoke about. It all changes so fast.

TB: You spoke about sitting in the shadows but fighting on ITV will get you out of that.

RDJ: I’ve just said this on another interview. I know every fighter says this but I’ve never ever been in shape like I have for this one. It’s give me that extra buzz to lift me to the next level. Even when people see me in the gym, the condition of me in the gym. I had photographers and people from ITV, and they were complimenting me and I’ve never had all that before. I really took it to the next level. Obviously, I had the grit of Willie Limond in my mouth and I thought: 'Can’t overlook him, I need to be at my best. He might be running now so I need to be running'! I know it’s a change of opponent now and the general public will think this is less of a fight, but I’ve got to be professional and I’ve got to stay switched on and still do a job.

TB: You get this one out the way, all going well, what do you want next? I know you leave that to your team but what would you want? Ideal world.

RDJ: Ideal world, because it’s built something between me and Willie and everyone’s been talking about it. It’s already been built up, to get a second one on top of that would probably put it back in people’s minds. If that came past again I’d like that. If not then I’d like to fight someone who’s been there, not quite world level but just under. Someone like Ashley Theophane. He fought for a world title but he never quite looked like he was going to win that fight. But he’s been at that level. I wouldn’t want to jump in at the deep end and get in with a (Ruslan) Provodnikov and get flattened (laughs). And think: What did I do this for? (laughs)'. I want to learn over this next 18 months, getting the right type of fight. I want to get the right fights so the general public see me and they think: ‘Good fighter, him’. Rather than me being spoke of, as I was saying, like a myth.

TB: It’s a big year for you, but also for your management because they’ve got to get you into these big fights.

Yeah, that’s it. Honest to God, the media from ITV and Liverpool Football Club and everything for this fight has been unbelievable. I’ve never had anything like this in my whole life. Last night (January 12) I was on Granada Reports and my phone went mad. I didn’t even tell anyone. I just thought I’ll see if anyone sees it. I thought it was only going to be a little piece, and then there was a few sad things in about my dad. I didn’t even know they were going to put that on, but everyone was saying you’ve touched a lot of people like that. I’m not one of these kids to go on about me. I’m just trying to make a living and get on and do well in this sport. I’m not in a race with everyone. We can all make it.