Up Close and Personal with Rising QBL Star Gareth Gardner.

Up Close and Personal with Rising QBL Star Gareth Gardner.
Interview by Gianluca Di Caro
Photo courtesy of Queensbury Boxing League
 
 
For this edition of ‘Up Close and Personal’, the featured boxer is New Addington, Surrey’s top prospect Gareth Gardner, who is set to face Grantham’s Mickey Blackburn on the Queensbury Professional Boxing Series, that heads up the Ross Minter and Alan Foley promoted Queensbury Boxing League NO MERCY season opener event at Effingham Park Hotel, in Felbridge, Crawley, West Sussex on Saturday 4th February 2017.
 
I was very much aware of Gareth and his fights against Marty Kayes and Ideh Ochuko, however on speaking with QBL’s Ross Minter, who really piqued my interest when he said:
 
“Gareth Gardner is a true professional in all aspects of the word.
 
He has a very close training team who work incredibly hard together in the gym and also get out there to help promote Gareth which helps bring people to the shows and they are all very good to work with.
 
Gareth has a good fan base, which we have helped to build during his time in the league, who are very passionate, so it is always a great atmosphere when he fights.
 
After doing it all in the Queensbury Boxing League, we all decided it was time to turn Gareth professional.
 
Gareth campaigned mostly at middleweight (11.6st) and also at Light Middleweight (11st) during his time in the league. He is now boxing at his more natural weigh of Welterweight (10.7st), which means that he is no longer boxing people bigger than him, which is really showing in the pro circuit, with Gareth dominating the fights easier than he did when against the bigger opponents in the League.
 
Gareth should have a busy year this year and we are hoping that we can step him up to title honours towards the end of the year if all goes to plan.
We are really looking forward to seeing Gareth do the business on the 4th February.”
 
Anyone that knows Ross Minter, knows he’s a straight talker, he leaves any QBL hype to their publicist, so what he said really caught my attention, especially as I had intended to attend the Queensbury Boxing League Season end event last December, which he and Tommy Jacobs featured on.
 
Unfortunately that event fell on the same night of another event I was committed to be at in Wales, so didn’t get to be there, but on hearing he is in action on the QBL series opener on the 4th February, I decided to make sure that not only did I get to know more about Gareth but also put the show in my diary to ensure I’m there to watch him in action.
 
Gareth, who had a stellar sixty bout amateur career, which culminated in him fighting internationally for the England Amateur Squad, began boxing on the Queensbury Boxing League shows in 2011. During this time Gareth fought fourteen times, winning all but one, as well as secured five QBL championships in three different weight divisions.
 
In June 2016 Gareth turned professional and on his debut faced Belfast’s Marty Kayes in a four rounder on the QBL event at the Millennium Arena in West Sussex.
 
No easy fight for a debutant for sure, Marty is a tough customer at the best of times, as proved when he challenged and beat Gary Silverman for the WBU UK Regional championship just a few weeks later, yet Gareth came through the test to secure his first professional victory by a shutout points decision.
In December, on the Eurosport broadcast Queensbury Boxing League season finale event at the K2 Arena in Crawley, West Sussex, Gareth made his second professional outing, this time against Croydon’s Ideh Ochuko in a six rounder.
 
Gareth pressured Ideh from the opening bell and kept the pressure up for three full rounds, so much so that due to an injury picked up during the battle with Gareth, Ideh retired in the corner immediately at the end of the third stanza.
 
With two excellent wins under his belt, next up for Gareth is a showdown with Grantham’s Mickey Blackburn, on the upcoming Queensbury Boxing League NO MERCY season opener at the Effingham Park Hotel on Saturday 4th February.
 
So with the scene setting all done and dusted, let’s move on to the business in hand, the interview with QBL star Mr. Gareth Gardner.
 
Gianluca
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, whilst obviously the interview is about your professional boxing career and your upcoming fight against Mickey Blackburn I feel that it would be good to start with your amateur boxing career and as such could you tell the readers a little about your non-professional career?
 
Gareth
I started boxing at the age of 9 years old at the New Addington Boxing Gym.
 
During that time I had 60 amateur bouts, boxed for London South East numerous times and represented England against Russia.
 
I then started boxing for the Queensbury Boxing League about 5 years ago. I had 14 fights for them and lost one bout, which was a Quest Knock Out Tournament.
 
I held five titles for the Queensbury Boxing League at three different weights – Super Middleweight, Middleweight and Light Middleweight.
 
 
Gianluca
Back in June 2016 you made your professional debut against Belfast’s Marty Kayes. Can you let the readers know how you felt, not only making your pro-debut but also securing your first Pro win, as well as your view of how the fight went?
 
Gareth
It was an exciting night for my team. It was something we’ve always been working towards, but had never happened up to now.
 
The fight went the full four rounds and Marty was a tough and durable opponent.
 
We were very pleased we got the win.
 
 
Gianluca
In December, you had your second pro-outing, against Ideh Ochuko. Whilst I wasn’t able to make the event due to being in Wales for a different event, but had heard that it was a cracking fight until Ideh was forced to retire in the third, as such can you tell us a little about the fight?
 
Gareth
Ideh was meant to be a step up in opponent for my first six round fight, but he didn’t make the fourth round due to my constant pressure and power.
 
 
Gianluca
As I mentioned previously you’re scheduled to face Mickey Blackburn on the Ross Minter and Alan Foley promoted Queensbury Boxing League Professional Boxing Series at the Effingham Park Hotel in Crawley on the 4th February. Do you know anything about your opponent and how do you see this fight unfolding?
 
Gareth
I don’t know a great deal on Mickey. My coach has watched video footage of him boxing, so we’ve been working on various things in the gym on the back of that.
We’ve been told Mickey will go the full six rounds, but we’ll see come the 4th of Feb.
 
 
Gianluca
So out of the fights you’ve had to date, whether Pro or not, which has been your favourite and why?
 
Gareth
It would have to be on the Queensbury Boxing League’s show at Alley Pally London, against Sam Holloway, which was a very close fight. I also learnt a lot about myself during that particular bout.
 
However I have loved every fight I’ve ever been in!
 
 
Gianluca
How would you describe your fighting style?
 
Gareth
I’m a come forward aggressive fighter, but I can also box on the back foot if need be. Which I think makes me an all round fighter.
 
 
Gianluca
Should you be successful on the 4th February, you will be unbeaten in three, whilst perhaps it’s a bit early to be thinking of Championship accolades, I’m sure that you must have been thinking about opportunities like that already, as such could you please outline your future plans for the readers.
 
Gareth
I’m hoping to be very busy this year and fighting ten-twelve rounds by the end of the year. Hopefully title shots coming early next year.
 
 
Gianluca
Moving away from the fights themselves, who are the main people that make up Team Gardner?
 
Gareth
My team has been pretty much the same since I first started my boxing career and consists of my Dad (Will), John and Chris being my coaches.
 
My Wife and children, they are so supportive. Plus help from Warriors and Juggernauts Gyms.
 
Last but no means least all my fans that buy tickets for my fights; I would never be able to do this without their support! My loyal fans!
 
 
Gianluca
Where do you train and what is your training schedule?
 
Gareth
I train at Warriors Boxing Gym in Felbridge four days a week, plus running, hill sprints, swimming and sparing at various different gyms.
 
I also have a full time manual job and work 6-7 days a week.
 
 
Gianluca
What would you say your favourite part of training is?
 
Gareth
I don’t have a favourite part of training it all hurts, its always painful in our gym lol!
 
However a gym full of fighters chasing their dreams, is always good to be around.
 
 
Gianluca
Outside boxing, what is your favourite sport?
 
Gareth
Carp fishing is my hobby, It’s the only time I get to relax and unwind.
 
 
Gianluca
Besides fishing how else do you relax outside boxing?
 
Gareth
Catching up on lost sleep and being around family.
 
 
Gianluca
These days Social Media is very much an important tool for professional sports people; do you utilize Social Media to engage with your fans?
 
Gareth
Yes, Social Media is great for advertising fights; it would be hard to get around to see all these people with such a busy schedule.
 
 
Gianluca
Finally is there anything you want to say to your fans?
 
Gareth
Thanks for all your support over the years, Love ya Team Gardner.
 
Gareth Gardner versus Mickey Blackburn features on the Queensbury Professional Boxing Series that heads up the Ross Minter and Alan Foley promoted Queensbury Boxing League NO MERCY event at Effingham Park Hotel, West Park Road, Copthorne, West Sussex RH10 3EU on Saturday 4th February 2017.
 
Tickets, priced £35, £60 and £75 are available direct from Gareth, any fighter boxing on the NO MERCY event or from the Queensbury Boxing League Ticket Line: Tel: 0203 751 8599
 

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Up Close and Personal with Tommy ‘Sweet T’ Jacobs.

Up Close and Personal with Tommy ‘Sweet T’ Jacobs.
Interview by Gianluca Di Caro
Photo courtesy of Queensbury Boxing League

 

For this edition of ‘Up Close and Personal’, the featured boxer is Colchester, Essex’s top prospect Tommy Jacobs, who is set to face Michael Robinson on the Queensbury Professional Boxing Series, that heads up the Ross Minter and Alan Foley promoted Queensbury Boxing League NO MERCY event at Effingham Park Hotel, in Felbridge, Crawley, West Sussex on Saturday 4th February 2017.

Tommy had a stellar Amateur Boxing Career, having notched up four National titles as well as was appointed Captain of the England Amateur Squad as well as was a member of the Team GB Development Squad, alongside such stars as Amir Khan, Luke Campbell, Billy Joe Saunders etc.

On the 11th March 2016 Tommy turned professional and on his debut on the Mark Lyons WiseGuys Promotions event at York Hall, faced and beat on points fellow debutant, former Kick Boxing Champion Ryan Lyall.

Jacobs-Lyall was an all out war, a truly first class and closely matched contest, so no surprise then, that it was awarded the accolade of being declared the ‘Fight Of The Night’.

Just three months later Tommy was back in action on another Mark Lyons WiseGuys Promotions event at the famous York Hall, this time Tommy elected to fight Ebenezer Amedor, whose record stood at 8 wins and just the single loss.

On paper it looked like a probable miss-match to outside observers, as Tommy had just the single pro win under his belt, they were right but not the way you may expect, Tommy not only out-boxed the experienced Ghanaian, but stopped him within the first minute of the second round.

In December 2016 Tommy made his first appearance on the Queensbury Professional Boxing Series that heads up the Ross Minter and Alan Foley promoted Queensbury Boxing League events, where he faced another seriously tough opponent, Middlesbrough’s Chris Wood, which was broadcast on Eurosport.

Once more Tommy emerged victorious and boy did he do it in style, so no surprise then when the QBL bosses invited him back for their season opener at the Effingham Park Hotel on February 4th.

OK, so now the scene setting is done, let’s hear from the man himself, Mr Tommy ‘Sweet T’ Jacobs.

 

Gianluca

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, whilst obviously the interview is about your professional career and your upcoming fight against Michael Robinson on the 4th February on the Queensbury Boxing League event at Effingham Park Hotel, I feel that it would be good to start with your amateur boxing career and as such could you tell the readers a little about your many achievements as an amateur boxer?

 

Tommy

I started boxing at 10 years of age at Harwich amateur club in Essex.

Represented Essex in only my fourth contest, eventually went on to win four National titles, represented and captained England and was part of the development squad that received lottery funding to help with training.

Had about sixty amateur contests in total.

 

Gianluca

For your pro debut you accepted the match-up with former Kick Boxing Champion Ryan Lyall, who was also making his pro debut. It’s unusual for a debutant to accept such a hard fight, firstly can you tell the readers the reason why you did and also a little about the exceptional fight itself?

 

Tommy

In my debut, I was very eager to get my career started and also didn’t really want to be fighting journeymen so when the bout with Ryan Lyall was offered I jumped at the chance as I knew fighting another debutant does a lot more for your ranking than fighting someone with a losing record.

I put a lot of pressure on myself in the first fight the build up was such a long time coming and It did show in my performance I wasn’t as relaxed as I’d like to be.

Being in with Ryan reiterated that I also shouldn’t be fighting at middleweight and need to be at light middle and eventually welter, as I was so much smaller than my opponent.

 

Gianluca

Your second fight was against another incredibly tough fighter Ebenezer Amedor, whose record at the time was 8 wins and just the single loss. Again I must ask why did you decide to take the match-up and also please give your view of the fight?

 

Tommy

My second fight I performed well, the pressure was off from the first fight and I was able to get in the performance needed against a tough opponent.

Again with his pedigree and record I don’t see a fighter as a risk as I genuinely believe that I am better then anyone facing me, I see an opponent with a good record as an opportunity to climb the ladder quicker.

 

Gianluca

Your final fight to date was also against a seriously tough fighter, Chris Wood – It’s clear by your previous answers your reasons but again please give the readers your view of the incredibly competitive bout.

 

Tommy

In my last bout things went a bit wrong, before the bout was made I had a lot of fights fall through so was a little de motivated and took my foot off the gas a little with training and enjoyed my food a little too much.

When I got the call about a fight in eight weeks I was never going to turn it down as I need to stay as busy as possible but I was over three stone over my fight weight!

My original opponent got injured not long before the fight and Chris stood in, again I didn’t care who was in front of me and was happy it was another fighter with a winning record coming off the back of a disputable title fight loss.

The huge weight loss affected me massively and without taking anything away from my opponent I had nothing in me from halfway through the first round.

Chris gave me a very tough good fight but I wasn’t myself I got through the fight on instinct alone and it was a massive eye opener to keep on top of my weight as you never know when an opportunity might arise.

I definitely want that fight again to right the wrongs that occurred, I never lost a round but that was probably the worst performance I’ve ever put in so I’d like the opportunity to put it right and I’m sure Chris would like the opportunity to have another go when we both have a full camp knowing who we’re fighting, and more so I know the fans really enjoyed it so it’s only right to give them what they want.

 

Gianluca

On the 4th of February, you are set to take on Michael Robinson from Grantham, on the Pro Boxing element of the Ross Minter and Alan Foley promoted Queensbury Boxing League event in Crawley. What are your thoughts on the fight, especially as again you’ve chosen to go against another tough fighter.

 

Tommy

My next fight against unbeaten Michael Robinson is a no brainer for me, again a fighter that doesn’t have a losing record pushes me that little bit closer to a title fight.

I don’t know much about him and have only seen limited footage but I can’t wait to get in the ring and see what he has to offer!

 

Gianluca

Out of the three fights you’ve had to date which has been your favourite and why?

 

Tommy

My favourite fight so far in my short career has to be my second against former West African champion Ebenezor Amedor.

He is by far the best opponent I’ve been in with so far and I feel that the better my opponent the better I will perform.

It was a very clean fight and I was able to get my shots off lovely and I look foreword to beating people with similar or better pedigrees.


Gianluca

How would you describe your fighting style?

 

Tommy

My style is very unorthodox, I have a very relaxed guard although my defence is one of my strongest attributes when I’m fit and not weight drained.

I have good footwork and fast hands which work great together.

If you had to pigeon hole me then I’d say the type of fighter I am is a counter puncher but I feel my strongest attribute of all is my adaptability, I love to relax on the back foot flicking out single eye catching shots but if I need to I’ll happily change it up and take it to the trenches to beat someone or anything in between.

 

Gianluca

It is clear that you have chosen tough fights early in your career due to your Championship aspirations. As such could you outline your future plans for the readers.

 

Tommy

With regards to my future, I already know the level I should be at so I want to get there as quick as possible and make up for lost time.

I want to be a PPV fighter and a household name at the top of my division.

In the meantime I’ll be looking to pick up as many and whatever titles are available on the way, I’m already asking for title shots all the time I want a belt wrapped round my waist in my next couple of fights.

 

Gianluca

Moving away from the fights themselves, who are the main people that make up Team Jacobs?

I have a great team behind me, I’m always learning from my coach Russ Smith, my corner men know me inside out I have my brother Matt who introduced me to boxing all those years ago and trained alongside me all of my childhood, one of my amateur coaches decided to follow me with my pro aspirations Paul Shaw has been now doing my corner since my amateur debut in 1998 and I don’t feel there is anyone that knows me when I’m in a fight more then Paul does.

I also now have Sean Carter in my corner, Sean is an MMA fighter but we train and spar almost daily so again knows me inside out and has a very analytical view on things so I’m certain he will be an asset to the Sweet Team.

 

Gianluca

Where do you train and what is your training schedule?

 

Tommy

I train at Champions Pro Boxing Gym in Colchester we have a great little stable of fighters and get plenty of good sparring.

Training has to be done around work so currently I train at 4:30 in the morning then again after work in the evening and get a few sessions in at the weekends.

Hopefully I’ll get to the point soon where I’ll be able to train on more of a full time basis.

 

Gianluca

What would you say your favorite part of training is?

 

Tommy

My favourite part of training is undoubtedly sparring, it’s the closest thing to competing and more realistic then anything else you do in the gym.

If my running, circuits or any other aspects aren’t going right but in sparring we’ll then I’m happy if it’s the other way round then I feel something is up.

You learn so much about yourself in sparring and it’s your opportunity to try new things.

 

Gianluca

Outside boxing, what is your favorite sport?

 

Tommy

I don’t really have time for anything outside of boxing, I love most sports but football like most is the sport I’d follow most closely.

I support Colchester United and go as regular as possible when I can fit it around my training. I love standing in the south stand watching Col U win the only thing is it doesn’t happen too often!

 

Gianluca

Besides sport how else do you relax outside boxing?

 

Tommy

When I’m not in the gym or not at a show or anything else to do with boxing the only thing I’m interested in is spending time with my lovely little family, my Missus is so accommodating and understanding when it comes to the sacrifices and commitments that comes with being a pro boxer that any free time I have I like to spend with her and my beautiful daughter.

We also have another baby on the way so time bonding together I think is the most valuable to me.

Once a week I get to go into my own little zone and shut out the world, after training on a Saturday morning I go to the Turkish Barbers in Colchester town centre, turn my phone off have a coffee with the barbers then I get a wet shave and massage and every few weeks a haircut. That little hour or so to myself just lets me reset recharge the batteries and go again for the next week.

 

Gianluca

These days Social Media is very much an important tool for professional sports people; do you utilize Social Media to engage with your fans?

 

Tommy

Social media is a huge part of pro boxing and so my life, I spend more time logged into some sort of social media page then I spend logged out. It’s great for letting people know in bulk what’s going on, many years ago you’d have to ring people individually to spread word of fights etc. now I go on Facebook, twitter, instagram or LinkedIn and get it out there that way.

Fortunately I have a great following on social media, which helps massively when it comes to selling tickets promoting sponsors etc.

 

Gianluca

Finally is there anything you want to say to your fans?

 

Tommy

Finally is like to say a huge thank you to the people that make it all possible.

My sponsors Esca Recruitment, TMC haulage and Square Mile Broking help me out massively and without them paying for new equipment, medicals etc. would simply not be possible.

Saving the best till last the #SweetTeam the group of people who feel like an army of family when I’m in the ring, the fans that spend their hard earned cash to follow me wherever I am and give me that extra boost when I’m in there.

I’m not going to go into the whole ticket sales scenario but I truly appreciate every single person that buys a ticket to watch me fight, it really does mean the world to me and I cannot thank them all enough, my career isn’t possible if people don’t want to watch me, so I want to do them all proud and share my success with them all whether it’s York hall or Las Vegas.

They’re the ones that when it’s tough, that fuel me to bite on my gum-shield and fight that little bit harder.

I’m increasingly humbled by the support I get I truly feel that I have the best fans in the world I love each and every one of them.

It’s a lonely sport and they share the emotion with you in the moment like no one would understand, the look on their faces and the roar of their cheers when my arm gets raised is like nothing else and I just hope I can do them all proud.

 

Gianluca

Thank you Tommy and I and am sure the readers too, wish you all the success in your Pro Boxing career.

 

Tommy Jacobs versus Michael Robinson features on the Queensbury Professional Boxing Series that heads up the Ross Minter and Alan Foley promoted Queensbury Boxing League NO MERCY event at Effingham Park Hotel, West Park Road, Copthorne, West Sussex RH10 3EU on Saturday 4th
February 2017.

Tickets, priced £35, £60 and £75 are available direct from Tommy, any fighter boxing on the NO MERCY event or from the Queensbury Boxing League Ticket Line: Tel: 0203 751 8599

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BIBA Appoint Professor M.R. Graham, Ahead of Introduction of Cognitive Testing Procedures in 2017.

BIBA Appoint Professor M.R. Graham, Ahead of Introduction of Cognitive Testing Procedures in 2017.

The British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) have appointed renowned sports injury specialist Professor Michael Graham MBChB; PhD; FRSM; BASEM; MICR; MCSFS; PCCMH; APIL Expert; FSB to their Medical Advisory Board headed by the eminent Dr. Louise Eccles M.D. MBChB DRCOG FP Cert LF Hom, to develop additional boxers Health and Safety procedures, such as the Cognitive Testing Procedures that the BIBA are set to introduce early in 2017, both as part of their licensing procedure as well as the post event medical.

Professor Graham is the leading researcher in projects that involve close collaboration with hospital consultants, which has resulted in multiple publications in peer reviewed international journals and international presentations and is also currently the visiting Professor to the Ningbo University in Zhejiang, China.

Professor Graham led the esteemed team that produced the internationally published papers “Direct Hits to the Head During Amateur Boxing is Associated With a Rise in Serum Biomarkers For Brain Injury” & “Should an Increase in Cerebral Neurochemicals Following Head Kicks in Karate Influence Return to Play?” Professor Graham and his esteemed team are currently researching the short-term and long-term effects of head injuries in Rugby.

On announcing the appointment, the British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) CEO & Executive Vice President Mr. Gianluca Di Caro stressed the importance of specialist health and safety procedures, especially with regard to the area of concussion.

“I am extremely proud that Professor Graham has joined our Medical Advisory Board, he is a, if not the, leading specialist in sports injuries and more importantly head injuries.

I believe it is our role to provide the highest level of health and safety procedures for the boxers, such as pre-licensing medicals, brain scans, blood screening etcetera’s as well as the ringside medical procedures and post fight medical.

Over the past twelve months, the issues of the effects of concussion within sports, not just the realm of Boxing, but also Football and Rugby, has been receiving an increased amount of mainstream media attention. However, practice appears to remain unchanged and archaic.

Whilst most of the column inches and air time has focused on the long term effects on the lives of those sports men and women that have endured concussion, there has not been much written or broadcast about the procedures that the individual sports organisations initiate in their efforts to prevent serious long term effects.

Professional Boxing has always been the leader in this particular realm, with specific rules in place for when a boxer is stopped or knocked out during a contest, to prevent return to play, prematurely.

In the BIBA case, besides the standard post fight medical checks by the ringside doctors, if a boxer is stopped, the boxer’s license is automatically suspended and the boxer may not compete, or spar, for a minimum 28 days, which is increased to a minimum 90 days if knocked out and unconscious for any period of time, no matter how short, as well as receive medical clearance, including in some cases an MRI scan, before they can compete again.

Compare that to other sports, such as Football and Rugby, where it seems the ‘magic’ sponge is deemed enough and a player that is seriously concussed could be back on the pitch playing again after just minutes.

However even though Professional Boxing procedures, especially our own with regard to concussion, are without doubt the best in the world, we at the British & Irish Boxing Authority believe that there is still a need to improve the procedures currently in place and am looking forward to the introduction of the new standards, including pre-licensing and post-fight Cognitive Testing procedures, being developed specifically for us by Professor Graham, Dr. Eccles and the BIBA Medical Advisory Board members.”

www.boxbiba.com

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