'I have never called anyone out': Dan Morley interview
Photo Credit: Instagram @butterflyboxing
Garry White speaks to Epsom's undefeated welterweight prospect Dan Morley and discovers a man who isn't your typical boxer...
Unbeaten welterweight prospect Dan Morley isn’t your average boxer.
We spend a decent stint of our telephone conversation discussing boxing related literature and the back catalogue of the late Hugh Mcllvanney. Morley discloses that Donald Mcrae’s seminal Dark Trade is currently at the forefront of his reading list and that he has his own active interest in writing. To such an extent that his work has previously graced the hallowed virtual walls of Boxing Monthly online. For the son of a former English teacher, he hasn’t yet ruled out the prospect of a future career in writing, once his punching days are over.
The 22-year-old is aware that he doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly into boxing’s standard template. He readily admits that: “I’m probably the most unassuming boxer you will ever see. Everyone who meets me and doesn’t know I box is always surprised when I tell them I’m a boxer. I was such a shy, timid kid. I really wouldn’t have said boo to a goose.
“I still haven’t ever had a fight outside of boxing, it just isn’t me. I have never called anyone out. I wouldn’t know what to do if someone called me out or started trouble,” he says with an amiable chuckle.
With his modest, unthreatening and friendly demeanour, it easy to see why he has recently started his own business taking boxing into schools. With the sport so frequently defamed by noisy press conference antics and social media hyperbole, Morley shines a pleasant and appealing light onto the true virtues and welcoming nature of the sport.
Now four fights in, since turning pro last April, Morley has settled steadily into the paid ranks under the guardianship of manager and trainer Adam Martin, and has his fifth pro fight this weekend. Having left the sport as a teenager he credits his girlfriend with getting him back involved again after a two-year absence. “I fell out of love with the game,” he says frankly.
“But I was working normal jobs and wasn’t happy. So, she sat me down and gave me a talking too. From there I decided to go and train and to take it seriously. I went up to see Adam Martin and had to grind it through the first couple of months. But every day I was getting closer to turning pro.”
Morley, who lives in the flat racing heartland of Epsom, had a relatively brief amateur career consisting of 26 fights of which he won 18. He fought a handful of national champions and boxed for London, but concedes that he “never really enjoyed it.”
He admits that he “lacked discipline” and “wasn’t interested in fighting all of the time.” With refreshing and engaging honesty the 22-year-old describes the negative outcome of his lack of focus. “I didn’t take the training and diet seriously. Eventually, I ended up getting caught out, as you will in this sport, and got bashed up pretty good, to be honest by a very good opponent.”
But now without the head-guards and opponents holding for three rounds, both of which he describes as “really hating” he has settled into an effective routine. “It’s amazing how much you can improve if you really dedicate yourself to the sport. You can see it through faster combinations and punching with more venom,” he says.
But the development is not just confined to the gym and the ring: “I’ve grown so much in confidence outside of boxing as well. I’ve improved emotionally as well as physically. I am enjoying my life and boxing more since I started taking this seriously.”
Last seen back in February at the York Hall, where he outpointed experienced Yorkshireman Danny Little over four rounds; Morley will be back in action on the British Warriors promotion at the same venue next month. He is determined to continue to drive his own improvement and progression. The target is a further three fights by the end of 2019.
So far he has evaded the ticket sale travails that can blight the development of many an emerging prospect. This financial imperative can often prove to be a fierce barrier to rising talents staying active, whilst they build their profile. But Morley says confidently:
“I can normally do 75 to 100 [tickets] and it makes it worthwhile. I’m not raking money in, but I am doing enough. I’ve been able to box four times in my first 10 months and I can still get those numbers in. You expect to sell loads for your first one, but there’s been no drop-off and everyone still seems to be enjoying it.”
Style-wise the mighty Ukrainian Gennady Golovkin remains a huge source of inspiration and Morley confirms that he has followed the career of the P4P great closely: “I love Golovkin,” he remarks. “The first fight of his I saw was when he knocked out Lajuan Simon in one round. He totally destroyed him and since then I have watched all of his fights live at whatever time of day. I was at The O2 as well when he beat Kell Brook.
“I was obsessed with him for a while,” he laughs. “I am a huge fan. I just love his style and have studied it a lot. His footwork, head movement, and aggression. Although it’s nowhere near to the same level I guess I do try and subconsciously emulate him.”
The golden question for any young unbeaten fighter is always; how far can they go in the sport? Morley takes a moment to consider all of the permutations of this question before responding. “You know what, I’m modest. I’m realistic as well and don’t really know,” he says with commendable reserve.
“Everyone tells me I can go to the top. You know, not just my Mum and Dad,” he jokes. “But people in the game say I have got everything it takes to go as far as I want. So long as I stay focused and persevere, then the sky is really the limit.
“My dream is to get to the top, but I take it as it comes. If I think about it too much it can become too big a picture, so I take it fight by fight and let’s see what happens. You can think you’re going to be a world champion and underestimate the bloke in front of you and get chinned.“
The vibrant welterweight division that he is operating in is stacked with talent both at a domestic and international level. The shop window is there in abundance for the 22-year-old to showcase his abilities, but this is counteracted by the fierce level of competition that will ultimately one day confront him. The recent Southern Area slugfest between Samuel Antwi and Jez Smith points directly to the domestic strength and depth at 147lbs.
But Morley carries such a likeable, understated and polite persona that it is impossible not to feel personally invested in him, even on the strength of one 45-minute conversation. With just four fights in his locker, the long term future cannot be accurately predicted. Yet as he continues his journey there is little doubt that there will be an ever growing list of those wishing him every success.