Danny Wayne Armstrong
Boxing Monthly talks to middleweight and London lad Ricky Heavens, a Ricky Hatton fan aiming high ahead of his pro debut on Saturday.
Name: Ricky Heavens
Nickname: 'Slick Rick'
Age: 18 (23/11/1997)
Hometown: Hayes, London
Height: 6ft 1in
Trainer: Barry O'Connell
Gym: State of Mind Fitness
Management: Steve Goodwin
Amateur highlight: HSK box cup silver
BM: You are 18 years old, how did you know the time was right to turn over to professional?
RH: I didn’t have a lot of amateur fights. I only fought 16 times as an amateur and I won 11 of them. I just wasn’t getting fights. I got an amateur license when I was 11 and I probably boxed once that season then once the season after then one to two fights per season after that. But during that time I was in the gym every day, I moved clubs a few times just to try and get fights, to try and get some sparring in.
BM: Why were you not getting fights?
RH: No Idea. I didn’t have any experience but I was taking on boys who had won titles had national titles and beating them so it was probably down to that. I was always fighting guys who had more experience, more wins.
BM: Is that why you knew it was time to turn over?
RH: A little bit of both. I couldn’t get anything at the level and I thought there’s no reason why I can’t push myself in the pros. I’d sparred and been around professionals a lot so I’d pushed myself there. Also I’m much more suited to the pro style.
BM: How are preparations for the fight?
RH: Everything is perfect, I’m keeping sharp, I’m bang on weight. I’ve even took a couple of days off work to make sure everything is fine. I work as a personal trainer in Putney and Chiswick, only about 20 minutes from my house.
BM: Describe your training camp in the lead up to the fight?
RH: It’s been a bit of a mix. Originally I was just going anywhere to train and spar. I’ve been in the gym and around John O’Donnell (30-2, 11 KOs) who is fighting Tommy Tear for the Southern Area title soon, and George Groves all year round. I’ve been training with with Barry O’Connell at State of Mind fitness for four months now. Barry improves fighters there, like [2-0 Hammersmith welterweight] Dan Dan Keenan who has improved massively under Barry from the amateurs since he turned professional. My first session I went in and did 4x3s with John O’Donnell and done a lot better than expected.
The original plan was to get around to different gyms and do a bit of sparring there but we’ve kept most of the sparring in the gym. I’ve done loads of rounds with John O’Donnell and been able to mix it up with all the lads in the gym.
BM: We’ve just seen Kell Brook and Gennady Golovkin fight in your division, is that the kind of company you want to be keeping down the line?
RH: Yes sure, I’ve got quite a few years yet and my debut is only on Saturday. I won’t say if there’s anyone on my radar now because I’ve got plenty of time and by the time I’ve hit that sort of level they probably won’t be there any longer! But I don’t see why in a few years down the line I couldn’t be taking guys like that on and beating them.
BM: What is your greatest strength as a fighter?
RH: My strength would be my variety. I’m tall for the weight - six foot one - and a lot of people think they can get inside but I can work on the inside as well and hold my own.
BM: Fighters entering higher weights tend to let their body grow for a while past their teenage years until they’re ready, do you feel you’ve already reached that point?
RH: I feel like I’m there now. Me and Barry and my dad discussed about maybe pushing the weight down when I turned over, but I’m comfortable at middleweight. We played around with the weights, but I operate best at middleweight. Another thing we discussed when I turned over was that I didn’t just want to turn over to get more bouts, box a lot of journeymen, have loads and loads of easy fights, and get a 10-0 record in my first year. I want to throw myself in at the deep end and change up the level of fighters with every fight.
BM: How much of an influence is your dad on your career?
RH: Massive, my dad has been full-time training me since I was 10 or 11 years old at least one session a week, obviously now I have a lot more training with Barry. He’s noticed since I’ve started the way Barry trains really suits me. He doesn’t change the way anyone boxes, he just plays to their strengths. There’s nothing worse than when a trainer changes the way a boxer fights, sometimes it can work but generally it’s a bad idea.
BM: You’ve signed your professional contract with Steve Goodwin, how did that come about?
RH: When I first turned over, Steve was the first one I spoke to because a few of the lads at the gym were signed with him and they told me that Steve was the man. He’s a real boxing guy and a nice guy.
BM: Who was your boxing idol growing up?
RH: I wouldn’t say I modelled myself on him but Ricky Hatton. I used to watch all of the Hatton highlights, all of his old fights on videos.
BM: Do you have a favourite football team?
RH: Brentford, it’s not too far away. I haven’t got the team colours on my shorts but I’ve managed to get the badge on there.
BM: We see a lot of fighters such as Tony Bellew and Ricky Hatton before him who have boxed at their team’s ground, is it a dream of yours to box at Griffin Park?
RH: I don’t know as much at the current ground but maybe at the new stadium when they build it at Lionel Road!
BM: Where would your ideal venue be?
RH: Ideally... I want to say Wembley but you can’t get better than Las Vegas. Why not both?
BM: In the meantime, how much does it mean to you to make your pro debut at the famous York Hall in your hometown of London?
RH: Brilliant, I couldn’t have chosen anywhere better. It’s local, all my mates and family are coming down, it’s not like it’s at the other side of the country where no one can get to. A lot of people can get down who may not have been able to get the time off work. It’s not five minutes from my house but it’s just round the corner from my area so it’s perfect.
BM: Do you have a message for the fans there on Saturday night?
RH: Most people already know, or those that I’ve spoken to. They’re expecting my best performance to date and what better place to do it at. I'd like to say a massive thank you to Richard from BlitzFitness, Taz from Nine to Five and Fit, and the whole Socially Powerful team for paying for my full fight gear. I’m not gonna say I’m calling rounds and no disrespect to my opponent but I do think I will get the stoppage and I’m looking forward to it!
Tickets for Steve Goodwin’s Lethal Combination card at York Hall on Saturday Sept 17 can be bought by contacting Ricky directly on 07860366170