Highlights, frustrations and hopes: end of year survey part 1

Boxing Monthly
19/12/2017 9:00pm

Boxing Monthly canvassed over 100 figures from boxing for their reflections on 2017 and hopes for 2018. Today Dave Allen, Simon Barclay, Jack Bateson, Tony Bellew (pictured left), Lewis Benson, Chris Billam Smith, Ricky Boylan, Akeem Ennis Brown, Lucas Browne, Marcus Browne, Frank Buglioni, Iain Butcher and Paul Butler have their say…

Interviews: John Angus MacDonald, Shaun Brown, Andrew Harrison, James Oddy, Danny Winterbottom & Luke G. Williams.



Dave Allen, heavyweight (12-3-1)

The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Personally my highlight was probably fighting at Bramall Lane where my dad had [fought] three decades earlier, and the reception I got. As a fan, probably the Klitschko vs Joshua fight.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Losing to Lenroy Thomas closely followed by not fighting in Cardiff.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To become British and Commonwealth champion in 2018.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
More 50/50 fights early on in fighters’ careers [it’s] better for the fighters and better for the fans paying to watch because I’m sick of 10-0 kids fighting journeymen.

Simon Barclay, cruiserweight (10-2)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Going the 12-round distance for the first time against a top opponent at only two-and-a-half weeks’ notice and [after] over a year out with injury.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Being out with a bicep injury for over a year.
My hopes for 2018 are...
I have a feeling 2018 is going to be a big year for me. I’ll be looking to get hold of some titles and hopefully earn a shot at the British title.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
I think the World Boxing Super Series looks like it’s going to be a good success so I would like to see it rolled out in other weight divisions to see the best against the best.

Jack Bateson, super bantam / featherweight (3-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Boxing in my home town at the Leeds First Direct Arena on the Warrington vs Ceylan card in my second pro fight!
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
[Nothing] The year has gone to plan by taking my record to 3-0 with three fights in three months before the end of 2017.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Continue to move forward winning fights and learning more about the pro game, making some noise in the super-bantamweight division.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Less titles! There’s that many different types of titles out there these days - it takes something away from the achievement of the fighters winning the major titles.

Tony Bellew, former British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion, former European and WBC cruiserweight champion (29-2-1)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
I've only had one fight this year so I'd have to say that fight, obviously [vs David Haye]. I didn't really look at it as such a great highlight, just more of a job done really.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Obviously the pull-out of David Haye [from the scheduled rematch]. Absolute disaster. I was going through enough personal tragedy as it was but that just topped it all off.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Two, maybe three huge fights. And to try my best and enjoy my wedding pain free.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
The number ones facing the number twos in every division. The best consistently fighting the best.

Lewis Benson, welterweight (9-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Getting back in the ring after 7-8 months [out] through injury and kept the unbeaten start.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Having to miss two fights through injury.
My hopes for 2018 are...
[To] get myself in positioning to fight for the Commonwealth and British titles.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
[Better] judging and every fighter getting a fair crack of the whip.

Chris Billam Smith, cruiserweight (4-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Making my debut in Bournemouth in front of my home fans and walking out to an amazing atmosphere and also getting the first-round stoppage.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Losing in the ABA quarter-final back in April.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To win a title and keep the stoppages coming.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
More free to air coverage of the sport.

Ricky Boylan, welterweight (15-3)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Unfortunately I haven’t had one as I haven’t boxed since December 2016 due to niggling injuries and other commitments but I am pleased that I can now get back training and I am looking forward to get momentum going and get back in the domestic mix.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Being unable to train and compete... Watching all the fellow boxers in my weight competing for titles.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To get back in the ring and fight regularly. I want to be boxing at domestic title level again. I'm never gonna be a world beater but I know I can be involved in some great scraps. The three fights I have lost have all been touch and go and could have swung either way....
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Boxers at every level being drug tested.

Akeem Ennis Brown, English super-lightweight champion (10-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Winning the English Title and becoming the youngest English Champ ever
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
I was meant to fight in Spain against a good European level fighter for good money and a good title and the fight fell through.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To be signed by a big TV promotion, and have all the British boxing world know my name.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Fair decisions all throughout the sport.

Lucas Browne, heavyweight (25-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Just getting back in the ring again. It felt good after being cleared of any wrong doing in Chechnya - I took an over the counter product that led to a positive test. Sitting on the sidelines does my head in.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Not fighting more than once.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Getting my hands on [WBO champion] Joseph Parker. Making up for lost time.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Fast-paced tournaments where contenders face off to get title shots.

Marcus Browne, light heavyweight (20-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Coming back off a shaky performance against [Radivoje] Kalajdzic, bouncing back and stopping a talented fighter like Thomas Williams.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Honestly, I’m thankful for my progress this year and focused on a busier and bigger 2018.
My hopes for 2018 are...
I’m ready to stake my claim to the light-heavyweight division, and I’m looking at 2018 as my year to do so.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
I think safety is very important, so just making sure refs, trainers and judges are paying careful attention during matches to potentially-concussed fighters.

Frank Buglioni, British light-heavyweight champion (21-2-1)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Retaining my title on the huge AJ Cardiff bill with a dominant victory over a tough and tricky challenger in Craig Richards.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The pull out of Callum Johnson - when situations are out of your control it is more frustrating.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To win the Lonsdale belt outright against four undefeated fighters and set a record as the first man to do that.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Competitive match-making and less emphasis on the unbeaten record.

Iain Butcher, super-fly / bantamweight (17-3)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Not really had a highlight of this year so far, but [I’m] boxing in a few weeks’ time [and will] hopefully get back to winning ways. [NB. Iain beat Scott McCormack on 16 December after this interview].
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Not performing in my British title fight back in April as chief support to Ricky Burns’ world title defence.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To be in title fights and win a major belt to progress - hopefully get the Josh Wale fight for the British title.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Banning drug cheats for life. More and more are getting exposed at a very high level.

Paul Butler, former IBF bantamweight champion (25-1)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Signing with Matchroom and getting straight into a world title eliminator and winning that in better fashion than I did last time against Stuart Hall.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Being so close to getting the [Jamie] McDonnell fight and it not happening.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To become a two-times world champion at bantamweight - there are some huge names out here in the division at the moment and I'd love to be in the mix.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Random drug testing needs to be brought in all over! Once you've been caught that's it banned for life! This game is tough enough as it is without cheats being involved.

Ring records correct at time of original interviews, but may have since changed.