By Oliver McManus @OliverGMcManus
Lyon Woodstock has been doing a fair few interviews in the build up to his fight on March 23rd. They’ve all been profoundly revealing and, such is the nature of the man, never the same answer uttered more than once.
The King, as he is self-styled, has never been through a Big Write Hook interview, however. I caught up with him last week and, whilst we tried to keep things different and fresh, there could only be one starting point…
“I’ve been waiting my whole life for that sort of a fight, if I don’t have an opponent on my level then I can get – I’m not sure if the word is bored – but I certainly don’t stay as focussed as I should. That Archie Sharp fight, then, was a great fight. Throughout the fight I was going through different thought processes, focussing on my main goal, but you kind of feed off the crowd and you’re aware it’s a good fight. The knowledge and lessons I learned from that fight, you can’t put a price on it.
My mentality is always changing because I’m always growing but that fight sped up the process – I’ll never be the exact same as I was against Archie Sharp and I’ll never be the exact same as in my next fight, I’m always growing.”
Woodstock’s tussle with Sharp took place in October of last year, at the Leicester Arena, and after five months out of the ring the Leicester man will return on March 23rd. The 25 year old told me that whilst titles were, obviously, a materialistic goal it was the the opportunity for legacy that motivated him,
His technique was shit
“I can’t wait to just get out there and back to doing what I do, I want to get out there and perform. I’m not really too bothered about how I get the win as long as it’s enjoyable for me and the fans. I’m looking to get into some more big fights this year so after the fight we’ll be looking at those names. It’s all about leaving something behind, creating memories, being involved in exciting fights. That’’s what I’m in this sport for, I want to be someone who is remembered.”
British champion Sam Bowen is a potential protagonist in the story of Lyon’s life and both fighters have been vocal with regards their opinions of one another. Woodstock told me that it’s a case of taking the title, not the name.
“Of course I would love the British title, if we’re going to talk about belts, I’m not bothered who’s got it. If he’s the one standing in the way, as he is now, then yes, I want that fight. I’ve spoken about how contradictory he is (to fight Jordan McCorry) when he’s ranked 13th, I’m ranked 9th and yet he calls me a step-down. His technique was shit (in McCorry’s last fight), he looked like he didn’t even train for that fight. That said all I can focus on is what I’m doing and where I’m going.”
When I fought in Leeds at the Elland Park, that was crazy
Aliterative Ls found themselves cropping up with frequency throughout our conversation with none more prolific than ‘Leicester’ or ‘Legacy’. It was the city of Leeds, however, that got Lyon pondering the heights his career could reach. Having fought twice in the West Yorkshire city, against Craig Poxton and Edwin Tellez, it was the latter bout that captured the imagination of Woodstock.
“When I fought in Leeds at the Elland Park, that was crazy, I’d love to headline a show like that in Leicester at the King Power Stadium. I would want as many local fighters as you can get on that card but as a city we are constantly developing and anything that can push us in a positive direction is a plus. Even the smaller shows like when I fought Paul Holt, just think of how much revenue you bring into the city because it’s not just the boxing, it’s the whole experience of the city. I love the place I come from and I love giving back to it.”
Having advanced his record to 11-1 since turning professional in 2015 and headlining shows on BT Sport you’d be half-forgiven for thinking the former WBO European champion was living the highlife. The 25 year old told me that perception of glory, glitz and glamour was the one thing he wish he could change about the sport.
“Running aside, although I do hate that, the perception of boxing is so far from the truth. People seem to think that because of Mayweather not only must you be making millions but if you get a loss you’re done. Back in the day losses were common ground, it’s become abnormal now to pick up a loss. I’ve known from the start that I’d probably pick up a loss or two but that doesn’t define me, the same way a single win doesn’t define me. It’s fan driven but a lot of fighters depend on that 0 for their reputation.”
Delving into Lyon’s life outside of boxing it was overwhelmingly evident that he’s a man whose brain is constantly ticking over from the smallest of thoughts to contemplating the biggest issues. As a child he took part in freestyle, breakdance and ballet which he credits with helping his footwork but, now an adult, documentaries form a decent chunk of his life,
“The last one I watched was about the frequency of vibrations within the universe, I’m always stimulated and thinking about things. They say the most creative people don’t get the best sleep and, whilst I get the sleep I need, I do struggle with it. My mind is always so active, I’ve found myself awake at night just shadow-boxing in the dark.”
The final question I had for Lyon who, if I’m honest, I found to be refreshing in his approach to life and genuinely so much wiser than his years, was a big one. One he could not have prepared for – ‘what type of pasta would you be?’, he answered in his typically reflective, worldly, manner.
“I would be that twisty one (fusilli) but I’d be the tesco version of it. It’s reliable, it’s always there, every time you open the cupboard it is in the back and it does the job well. Listen if Jordan McCorry pulls out I would step in, no question needed, ever since the show got pushed back I have been preparing, mentally, for Sam Bowen.
He offered it to me at two weeks notice for the original date, when I was training for a six rounder, but since it’s been pushed back I have been training for it. That’s why I’d be the twisty pasta, I am always there to do the job.”