Highlights, frustrations and hopes: end of year survey part 7

Boxing Monthly
30/12/2017 10:45am

Boxing Monthly canvassed over 100 figures from boxing for their reflections on 2017 and hopes for 2018. Today Richard Riakporhe, John Ryder, Bradley Saunders, Lee Selby, Claressa Shields, Bradley Skeete, Dec Spelman, Gary Sykes, John Thain and Keith Thurman (pictured left) have their say…

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


Richard Riakporhe, cruiserweight (5-0)

The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Essentially it wasn’t just one particular event that was a major highlight for me within the year - it was just being able to compete and win against every opponent that was put in front of me. I must say that boxing brings me great joy.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Not being able to box towards the end of the year was quite frustrating as I had put myself through an excruciating training regime to gain victory over my competition, but due to my opponents pulling out for one reason or another they failed to materialise.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To win titles, attain new skills, inspire the youth, stay focused and be able to take every opportunity that is given to me with no hesitation. 
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
More tournaments similar to the World Boxing Super Series where the best fight the best.

John Ryder, super middleweight (25-4)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Beating Patrick Nielsen at Wembley Arena. It was a great event and a great show to be a part of.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was …
For me, it’s being in limbo between fights not knowing what’s next.
My hopes for 2018 are...
To stay active and hopefully be near to, or have boxed for a world title.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
More shows and more TV exposure. A lot of good boxers fly under the radar and have decent careers but miss out on the opportunities of fighting on big shows for good titles.

Bradley Saunders, super welterweight (13-1)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...  
Putting my DQ decision behind me and seeing my brother beat Steven Lewis.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Finding it hard to get fights since being fit (after rupturing both hands against [Renald] Garrido [in September 2015]). 
My hopes for 2018 are...
It's a hard sport. I have some injuries that people don't know about. I’ll see what the New Year brings but I will look to be hands on with my brother Jeff.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Everyone [being] given a fair chance (which is a long shot). The sport would be great but there is too much politics involved.

Lee Selby, IBF featherweight champion (25-1)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...  
Beating Jonathan Barros under tough circumstances.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The pull-out at the weigh-in in Vegas.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
If the best fought the best.

Claressa Shields, IBF and WBC female super middleweight champion (4-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was…

Defeating Nikki Adler for the IBF and WBC World Titles.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
There was nothing too frustrating or disappointing. God is good.
My hopes for 2018 are…
To Stay undefeated, raise the profile of women’s boxing and close the gender wage gap in the sport.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is…
Placing more women on male undercards and in televised fights. Get more boxing fans into female fighters.

Bradley Skeete, British welterweight champion (27-1)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Defending my British title for the third time and winning it outright. 
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Missing out on getting the Jeff Horn fight. At the time I was ranked number 3 with the WBO and agreed to all the terms. I was waiting on the contract to be signed then to be told his team had picked another opponent ranked number 10! 
My hopes for 2018 are...
To become a world champion. 
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Rival promoters working together to get some great fights made.

Dec Spelman, light heavyweight (11-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Getting TV exposure
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Damaging two of my discs in my back training for my English title fight.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Win as many belts possible.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
I’ve not had too many bad experiences in the game myself so can't really answer this one.

Gary Sykes, former British super-featherweight champion (28-5)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
[It’s] not yet happened yet [at the time of writing] but I’m so excited for the Lomo vs Rigo fight. Since getting into boxing at 1999 I’ve never been as excited for a fight... Saying that it could be a stalemate / chess match but it’s got me excited all the same.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The circus of MayMac with non-boxing people actually thinking McGregor had a chance which was laughable. Was 100 per cent a money spinner first and foremost.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Not to get fat in retirement. In my boxing career I’ve boxed at 9st 4lbs so basically being the same size as my fiancée. Now I don’t box I’ve started hitting the weights and started putting size on but thankfully not on my belly.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
An organisation which eclipses any other. So basically one main champion in each weight and not four separate ones as it stands with the WBC, IBF, WBA, WBO. 

John Thain, welterweight (16-3)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Although I haven't boxed this year I have genuinely regained a love for this sport in recent months. I feel my inspiration has returned.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Not boxing because of injury and not getting the desired opportunities. Sometimes they come to you, sometimes they don't. But my time will [come] so it's best to stay positive.
My hopes for 2018 are...
I hope to become champion in 2018.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
I think it would help build the profile of boxing to have it shown more on terrestrial television. Even if just a weekly highlights show that helps bring a bigger audience. The boxers that were shown on those channels were household names ie Eubank, Benn, Bruno.

Keith Thurman, WBA 'super' and WBC welterweight champion (28-0)
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
The highlight of my year is getting married to my wife. In boxing? It’s continuing to show my fans the strength and determination I have for being the unified champion in the Welterweight divison. My performance against Danny Garcia showed what I can do even when I was hurt.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
My injury, but I’ve faced this once before and came out stronger. I am almost done with my rehab and then back to work.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Continue to unify the division and peace and love for everyone in this world.

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