'I am giving them a night to remember': Francy Luzoho interview
Francy Luzoho is a Dubliner who originally hails from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and promised fans "the most impressive debut in Irish boxing history". Harry Drinkwater talks to the charismatic super lightweight...
There have been many a straight-talking Irishman in combat sports during recent times, however with Francy Luzoho you sense there is something different.
Something more than just the usual brash nature that we have seen so often.
His infectious smile, which appears so often during our conversation, serves as the prelude to a soft Dublin accent. Being originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luzoho is clearly well travelled having spent time in Spain and America before finding home with Steven O'Rourke in Dublin.
Prior to his debut, he spoke to the Irish media claiming he was attempting to put on “the most impressive debut in Irish boxing history”.
Some statement and many would have laughed. But they would stop laughing very quickly.
For starters, his debut was no gimme - he faced with Sam Jones, whose record stood at six wins and just one loss prior to their fight – not a perfect record but one that indicated he was no mere sacrificial lamb.
Everything was different to the usual: the ringwalk, the atmosphere and then, of course, the performance. Luzoho dispatched Jones emphatically, knocking him out in three rounds after a one-sided beatdown.
“Well, I said it was a night that people weren't going to forget!" Luzoho tells BM. "I said it will go down in Irish history and guess what... it did! I said to my management team at Assasin that I wanted someone good, don't get me a journeyman that is just here to be blown over. Get me someone that is coming to fight and can win.
“When Conor [matchmaker] said it was going to be Sam I just thanked God. It was the opportunity I had been waiting for and I knew even before the fight that I could steal the show with the performance I was going to put on.
“I knew I had a lot of people in the arena, I had people coming over from Spain to watch me so I always knew it was going to be my night. I did what I had to do in the ring and then these emotions started to come over me.
“It had been years of hard work, all I ever wanted was to turn pro but it's pointless if you don't get the win so maybe it's natural that there was always going to be emotions after. Looking back, I always knew I would win, but you have to take it one step at a time in this game and even life.
"I actually remember being at the hotel after with my girlfriend and just talking about how there was going to be so many more nights like this to come."
A naturally gifted athlete as a youngster, Luzoho balanced a potential football career with his amateur boxing which limited him to just 30 unpaid fights, including just three losses. He won two intermediate titles and a Celtic Box Cup before he quit a promising football career for good.
I probed if it was a hard decision for him to make with the fortunes that some in football make. “You know what it was?" he replies. "I got injured. A really bad tackle and I was out for a little while so I was a bit pissed off with the sport anyway if I am hones.
“I was sitting on YouTube thinking: right, what can I do to get back better than I was before? So I started searching for different exercises to do once I was back. I happened to stumble on an old, old Roy Jones Jr video. He did the chicken dance behind his back and stopped your man. Then I was like: I have go to learn how to do this!
“I then started to watch [Roberto] Duran and how he did things. I haven't really looked back from there. Like everyone I had to find an amateur gym, there wasn't one near me but I managed to get a bus and I had checked with the guy about what I would need. The usual, wraps, mouth guard, water etc.
“I only rocked up for my first session and they asked if I would spar, I said it was my first session but here we are. I haven't looked back!”
A brief spell in Tenerife saw him sparring with the likes of IBF title challenger Liam Walsh and his brother Ryan, the current British featherweight champion, as he waited for the opportunity to turn over.
After sharing the ring with such well-respected talents, Luzoho knew he had to make the gamble after doing his research on who would be best to turn pro with. He decided to contact Assassin Boxing, a promotional outfit with a growing reputation in Ireland.
Assassin have agreed a recent landmark deal in the Emerald Isle to broadcast on terrestrial television station TG4 with their first show in December and their next show 'Clash of the Titans' - which Luzoho features on - also set to be shown live again.
Luzoho explains what drew him to Assassin: “To be fair, I spoke to a few different people to get their opinion on what would be going on. I knew someone who had signed with Assassin, they won the Celtic belt, they have really improved his record and he's been on TV platforms.
"I said to Steven: 'get me signed with them!' I flew back from Tenerife, met with Conor Slater who works for them and signed straight away.
“They said everything I needed a promoter to, they had a plan so I put pen to paper. I am now getting the TV slots that they promised. I said to them in the meeting, I am not here to just talk and talk – my debut showed what I am about."
As our conversation nears its conclusion, our attention inevitably turns to Luzoho's next fight and how camp is going.
Like during much of our interaction, the Dubliner is keen to avoid cliches and my ears prick up when I hear his unusual theory behind one of the hardest parts of being a young boxer; namely, ticket sales.
“Everything is going great for my fight on the 30 March, but I am aware that you're basically asking people to come out and support you again,” he says.
"It's hard for people at the minute so it's not just about what you do in the ring but so much more so what you do out of it. When I said I was going to have a debut to remember, everyone expected me to mean about my performance but I knew it was going to be more than that.
“I had a live act rapping me to the ring, I had a full walk-out that was a show in itself, then obviously it's down to me to put on the performance and I did that, too.
“This next fight, I am going to up it again. The debut was only the beginning and I truly believe that. It will get bigger and bigger for those that come and spend their hard-earned cash.
“You are your own brand, your own show – that's what people buy into. Give the fans that buy tickets entertainment from when you start your ringwalk to when you go back in the changing room.
“If you give them a night to remember, I am telling you they will come back and then you put on a show they might bring another mate.
“30 March, I am telling you - I am giving them a night to remember!”
After his previous predictions, who would bet against the enigmatic Francy Luzoho?