By Oliver McManus @OliverGMcManus
A special homecoming awaits for Southern Area champion Brad Pauls. The proud Cornishman, a thoroughbread of Newquay, defends his title against Robbie Chapman in Plymouth on November 22nd.
For the ambitious 26 year old such an occasion has been a long time coming with talks surrounding a show, seemingly, since he turned professional. Three times previously he’s fought in his home county but this will be the first title fight in the South West for many a year.
“It’s perfect timing,” Brad began, “people back home can see I’m in a real fight with a live opponent and that’s why I’ve sold so many (250) tickets. I picked this fight because I wanted a tough fight; it’s pointless me blowing away a journeyman. I’ve got an opponent who is going to give me ten rounds, I think, of hard boxing. People are going to get their money’s worth.
I’ve built myself into bigger fights, I’m doing better things. After my fight with Darren things have changed a bit; I made history (as the first Cornish boxer to win a title in a century), I got on BBC News and that boosted my profile. At that point I was selling 80-90 tickets so people are starting to see they’ve got a decent talent in Cornwall and are getting behind me.”
“People are going to get their money’s worth.”
Growing up on the craggy creeks of Cornwall there wasn’t exactly much choice for inspiration. The middleweight began boxing aged 10 but opportunities and competitions were few and far between. The Southern Area champion explained the challenges of treading comparatively new territory.
“There was no-one I could look at from Cornwall, alive anyway, and see that they had gone from amateur to professional. I’ve never had anyone like that to look up to; I do feel as though I’ve paved my own way and figure it out by myself. I didn’t know what was the best way to do it or the right way but now I’m seeing more people turning over in the South West so there is a little boom now and putting shows on is going to help that.”
The appetite for boxing in the South West is “booming” according to the young champion and that’s evident from ticket sales. A sold out Guild Hall will be the venue for Plymouth’s biggest night of boxing – a handful of debutantes seek to gain their support and surf the wave, as is traditional on the Devon coast, of Pauls’ success. Long -term he revealed that the ambition was to have regular shows promoted with local talent across the bill.
“I’m really lucky but it’s taken a while. I’ve been a pro nearly four years so it’s taken a long time to get here but we did it in the end. The plan is to have more shows and it’s not impossible to get these bigger titles down there – whether it’s an English title or a Commonwealth. There is the support and the money seems possible to generate from the ticket sales. There’s not many other boxers in that part of the country but we’ve got a healthy undercard.”
“You’ve got to give Robbie a lot of respect… fair play to the man”
Against Robbie Chapman there should be a stiff challenge to Pauls’ Southern Area supremacy. The ‘Camden Caretaker’ has already fought two undefeated opponents this year – Terry Zunke and Bradley Spencer – but this contest will be his first outside of London. That desire to challenge a champion in their home territory drew respect from his opponent.
“You’ve got to give Robbie a lot of respect for coming all the way down to Plymouth to fight me. Fair play to the man, we’ll have a good scrap. If he wins the fight he’s going to be set up for plenty of opportunities; he’s fought undefeated people before so to him it’s just another fight and there’s no real pressure on him. I’ve got a lot to defend, I don’t want to give that up and I’m the one that needs to impress a home crowd.”
There was an undoubted serenity throughout our conversation – assuredness in his preparations for the contest. That self-belief is personified in the meticulous methods of, head coach, Terry Steward and the gradual forming of routines as Brad reflected.
“The more you do something you just have to get better. You start to understand what works and what doesn’t. I’m making weight so much better now than when I first started; I understand what’s necessary. My skill set is getting better, everything in the gym is getting better because I’m giving my all to boxing. You have to improve when you’re dedicating your life to it.”
“There’s been two separate times where I’ve done a day before weigh-in so that doesn’t bother me anymore. There’s been two separate time where I’ve trained to do a ten round fight so I’m used to the longer spars and the harder track sessions. Those two previous fights have set me up perfectly (because of how different they were); I went nine rounds with Diego Burton and had the energy to stop him and vice versa with Darren (Cordona) because I stopped him early.”
The last words from Brad, amid a myriad of praise, were dedicated to his stablemate Linus Udofia. The much-touted middleweight fights for the English title just a week after this historic homecoming; the pair make for a modern day Bradley Skeete and Johnny Garton. And that can only be a good thing, the Goodwin Boxing fighter explained.
“We’ve been side by side all the way through our careers and it’s good to have someone like that around me. Linus is GOOD. He’ll get British title as a minimum and training with him makes you a better fighter, you work harder and he’ll always give me advice. We’re a good little team and we’re very like-minded. He’ll come to my fights, I’ll go to his and they all love him down in Cornwall. When he comes down they’re asking for photos with him like I don’t exist – he’s an adopted Cornishman!”
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