عالمية عالمية

Anthony Fowler makes Liam Smith admission and identifies one advantage for crunch fight

When Anthony Fowler steps into the ring to face Liam Smith on October 9th, at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, it will make a dream come true.

As a teenager, the Toxteth man used to attend fights at the waterfront arena, watching his heroes ply their trade. Now it’s his turn to headline a huge night of boxing in his hometown and he admits, “It’s a dream come true for me. I look back to when I was a young kid and I used to sit in the £40 seats watching the likes of Pricey and Bellew. I used to think ‘wow, I’d love to fight here’, now it’s my turn to headline.”

Now, at thirty years of age, not only is he top of a bill in his hometown but he’s topping it against a fellow scouser. Liverpool has seen many cross-city rivalries, from the great Nel Tarleton and Dom Volante, to the ‘Nark in the Park’ clash between Shea Neary and Andy Holligan.

Fowler admits this isn’t just any fight and he cannot wait for the night itself, “It’s different because I’m more nervous for this fight than I am for the average fight, but that’s understandable. My way of looking at this is that it isn’t personal. We’re both scousers, both working hard, trying to achieve our dreams and looking after our families. It’s just business, it’s nothing personal on my part.”

Nothing personal isn’t how you would describe Fowler’s sole defeat, at the hands of former Commonwealth team mate Scott Fitzgerald, where he allowed his opponent to get under his skin.

It’s a comment Fowler himself agrees is fair, “I’ve learned from that definitely, but people have got to remember that Fitzgerald made comments about my girlfriend and comments about me. It was real personal stuff. I was laughing and joking mostly but towards the end it got nasty as he was bringing my family into it.

“I’ve learned that boxing is about being smart, it isn’t about getting emotionally involved. I was really angry going into the ring. I had a lot of aggression and it worked against me. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m more switched on now. I’m more mature. It’s just a boxing match, it’s a sport, it’s just business.”

That defeat may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the former Olympian. It made him reassess his future and he make huge changes, most notably in his corner, where he swapped former coach Dave Coldwell for London-based Shane McGuigan.

The McGuigan camp is currently riding the crest of a wave, with Lawrence Okolie winning the WBO Cruiserweight championship, and Chris Billam-Smith winning the British and European Cruiserweight title.

A successful camp is a happy camp and Fowler believes the addition of McGuigan has been a game changer for him, “Everyone has seen a big improvement. I’ve had four fights with him and I’ve won them all by knockout. Everyone can see I have definitely made progress under Shane.”

Liam Smith and Anthony Fowler with Eddie Hearn

October 9 can’t come quickly enough for both Fowler and fight fans. But there are many who believe the Toxteth man may have bitten off more than he can chew.

The former world title holder, Smith, has just three defeats on his record – one to all time great Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, another to former champion Jaime Munguia and in his latest bout, a highly controversial points decision loss to Russian fighter Magomed Kurbanov in Russia.

Smith is the best fighter Fowler has faced but it’s a bout he thinks he can win and he believes Smith’s style is one he can excel against, “I think our styles will gel nicely. The worst style for me is a southpaw but Liam is shorter than me and orthodox, and that is the style I’m best against. I’ve got a good jab and I’m a really strong fighter.

“It’s going to be a good fight and we’ll see on the night. Come fight night, all the talk means nothing. I’m sure he sees weaknesses in me, like I see weaknesses in him, and it’s all about who’s got the best game plan.”

From being that boy at the back of the arena, watching his heroes headline shows in their hometown, Fowler is now top of the bill at the same venue. He will be hoping that, come fight night, he can propel himself past domestic and European level and into the upper reaches of the world rankings.

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