John Wayne ready to show true grit
James Oddy catches up with super lightweight John Wayne Hibbert as he prepares for an eagerly awaited showdown with Tommy Coyle ...
Around 180 miles separates the homes of Essex’s John Wayne Hibbert (17-4) and Hull’s Tommy Coyle (22-4).
Yet when the pair step into the ring on 26 November at Wembley Arena they will see in each other a boxer with plenty of similarities.
The super lightweights both have a reputation as blood and guts fighters, Hibbert having previously engaged in a thrilling trilogy against Dave Ryan, while Coyle has been involved in several pulsating fights during his storied career.
Both men are also coming off a valiant loss in their last outing - Hibbert was cut and stopped in six by Italy’s Andrea Scarpa, whilst Coyle pushed British champion Tyrone Nurse extremely hard in a points loss.
Understandably, Hibbert vs Coyle is a fight eagerly awaited by the boxing fraternity.
“A lot of people are buzzing about this fight. It’s what fans want; it’s at the top of the [Big City Dreams] bill,” Hibbert told BM via telephone whilst travelling between sparring sessions.
His training camp has evidently been a tough one, with the likes of Bradley Skeete, Joe Hughes and Chris Jenkinson making appearances as sparring partners.
Such painstaking preparation illustrates the importance of the task ahead for Hibbert.
“I’m looking forward to it," he emphasised. "I’m training very hard, as Tommy Coyle probably is. I think we both know it’s a must-win fight. There are not a lot of other channels you can go down for the loser of us. I’m buzzing for it.”
The affable Hibbert is determined to make up for a poor night against Scarpa.
“I didn’t box well from the word go," he admitted. "Like my trainer said, I was buzzing in the dressing room, [but] as soon as I got in the ring, I was sort of flat. There wasn’t any bounce to anything. The cut affected me in a big way, but it wasn’t a good performance.
"On saying that, I believe getting into round ten I would have taken Scarpa out. I really do. Even on that performance. I don’t think he would have been able to cope with that pace of a fight and cope with me on him for twelve rounds. I think his heart would have given in."
BM asked Hibbert why he may have gone flat against the Italian. “When I went in against Scarpa, [I was] told I had the Ricky Burns fight straight after ... I don’t know if that affected me or not," he explained.
"I got told at the weight-in the day before, and then I got told on the night ten minutes before walking to the ring [that] it was a done deal. But you can’t think past the fight. You have to focus on the task ahead and the game plan.”
Scarpa is also appearing on the card against exciting talent Ohara Davies and Hibbert also shared his thoughts with BM about that showdown.
“I think Ohara Davies probably will get the job done," he said. "Don’t get me wrong; it’s going to be a very awkward fight. But Ohara is a strong, confident lad. He’s doing well.”
Hibbert's sole focus now is on Tommy Coyle. Whilst almost everyone is expecting a toe-to-toe brawl, it seems likely that both fighters will have some tricks up their sleeve, as Hibbert acknowledges.
“We are working on a game plan," the 31-year-old confirmed. "I’m sure Tommy Coyle is working on a game plan. I’ve seen he’s put some things on Twitter about a war, and all that. I know Tommy Coyle can box off the back foot, he isn’t a mug. He isn’t just a fighter, he can box.
"Same goes for me, I’m just as good a boxer as I am a fighter. However the fight pans out, if we get engaged in a fight, if we get engaged in a boxing match, I’m going to win. All that is going to happen is a John Wayne Hibbert win. That’s it really.”