In conversation with Joel Brunker
Australian world title contender Joel Brunker, 28-1 (16 KOs), analyses former foe Lee Selby's IBF featherweight title tilt against tough Russian Evgeny Gradovich, and discusses a potential Commonwealth title clash with Josh Warrington as well as his own fighting future.
This Saturday sees Lee Selby challenge unbeaten IBF champion Evgeny Gradovich at London’s O2 Arena – how do you see the fight going?
I think Selby will make the fight very awkward for Gradovich. Selby has this difficult style that makes him very difficult to land clean punches on. Gradovich will come forward and be the aggressor and Selby will look to counter. I don’t think Selby will stop Gradovich, but I do think he will win on points.
The fight takes place at London’s O2 Arena, which hosted your final eliminator with Selby in October - will familiar surroundings give Selby any advantage? Were you fazed at all with the big arena?
Most definitely. Selby has been there before and has home ground advantage. I give Gradovich full credit for fighting in Selby’s backyard. I wasn’t fazed at all. I don’t really worry too much about the crowd and my surroundings.
Looking back at October’s fight, were you surprised how quick and slick defensively Selby can be?
Not really. I have sparred him a few times and I knew he was a quality fighter. I think Selby knew he needed to be on his game on the night and full credit to him; he was the better fighter on the night and deserved the win.
Despite a determined effort, Selby stepped on the gas in the 9th taking your ‘0’. Do you think your 14-month break since the Mike Oliver fight played a part with ring rust?
Leading up to the fight I didn’t think it would affect me, but as soon as the opening bell rang I could feel the ring rust. My performance against Selby is not a true reflection of what I am capable of doing in the ring and that is what hurts me the most. I can handle losing if I performed at my best, but - I can honestly say that in the fight against Selby - I was far from it. I would like an opportunity to fight Selby again at my best and, if the outcome is the same, I can at least sleep knowing there was nothing more I could have done.
Three months have passed since you captured the vacant International Boxing Organization Oceania super-featherweight title with a convincing second round TKO over Rey Laspinas - it must have been pleasing fighting in front of your hometown fans for the first time in almost 18 months?
It was. I always like fighting in front of my home crowd; it seems to bring out the best in me. I was hoping to get some rounds under my belt in that fight, but when you see an opportunity to end the fight early you have to take it.
It was a peach of a body shot that finished off the awkward Filipino - was that something in particular you were working on in the gym?
It is no secret I love to attack the body, but it wasn’t something I planned to do before the fight.
Australian boxing seems to be in a pretty good place right now with the likes of Daniel Geale, Anthony Mundine, Lucas Browne and Billy Dib all in the world title mix of late. Are there any names we should keep an eye on in the next wave of contenders coming through?
Keep an eye on welterweight Jeff Horn, a very talented boxer who is about to explode onto the world stage.
I’m sure you still have world title aspirations of your own - you’re still ranked No.9 with IBF. Is this your likely route or have you plotted your next move with another one of the governing bodies?
My management are looking at this closely now. It is all about opportunity. It really doesn’t make a difference to me who I fight. As I said, I would like to fight Selby again in the future, but I will fight whoever I need to so I can get a title shot.
Another one of the UK’s rising stars Josh Warrington has catapulted himself into the world rankings with a couple of solid victories - have you had a chance to see him in action yet?
I have had a brief look at him, as I am mandatory for the Commonwealth title. I think his style and mine would make for a very entertaining fight, so I am very keen for this fight to go ahead. It will also be a singing battle of the Football fans, his Leeds supporters against my Western Sydney Wanderers supporters.
Finally, when we can expect to see you out again? I’ve seen Jack Asis’ name being mentioned which would be a big domestic showdown.
My management is currently working on this as we speak. I am happy to fight Jack Asis or whoever my management lines up for me. I want to take on the best fighters and work my way to a world title shot. Finally, just a huge thanks to the UK fans. I appreciate the support you guys give me and I hope to come and fight there again soon.