Man with a plan: Anthony Fowler interview

Shaun Brown
27/07/2018 4:12am

Ahead of his seventh pro fight, Anthony Fowler speaks to Shaun Brown about why he is bursting with confidence...

Anthony Fowler has a plan.

The (6-0, 5 KOs) super welterweight may have a fight tomorrow night against Craig O’Brien (8-0), over eight rounds, on the Dillian Whyte-Joseph Parker undercard but the Liverpudlian is already thinking about what lies ahead of that.

We are so used to hearing fighters roll out the ‘I’ll take it one fight at a time’ phrase, but not Fowler. And it’s not cockiness or arrogance on the part of the 27-year-old, more a sign of his confidence after the training camp that Dave Coldwell has put him through.

Speaking to Boxing Monthly, Fowler spelled out exactly who he wants should he – as he wholeheartedly expects to – get past his Irish opponent at London’s O2 Arena.

“After this next fight I want to be let off the leash,” said the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist. A sign of the times with fighters who, having had extensive amateur backgrounds, want thrown into the biggest fights possible, domestic or otherwise.

“I want to box someone like Scott Fitzgerald next (10-0, 7 KOs) who’s in the same division as me. Good amateur background, driven, doing well in the pros but he hasn’t really been tested. I want to fight him next. He’s a good fight. We’re both on the same path. Whereas someone like [Ted] Cheeseman is a little bit ahead, he’s (14-0, 9 KOs) boxing for the British title. I want to box Scott next, beat Scott, move on to the Commonwealth and go for Cheeseman next year. That’s a good plan for me.”

For the time being all eyes must be on O’Brien, a Dubliner whose own amateur career looked to be heading in the right direction until things outside the ring got a little out of hand. O’Brien has been sparring the likes of Luke Keeler and ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan in preparation for the Fowler fight and is redeemed and ready to upset the odds against the Matchroom prospect.

Fowler is in high spirits, however. His own build-up has delivered his best work yet, he says, under Coldwell. The 2016 Olympic Boxing captain knows the cliché that fighters use but he couldn’t avoid it.

“Fighters always say it, but this has been my best camp bar none. I’ve learned more in this camp than all the rest of them combined. On fight night I’ve got an unbeaten opponent who’s going to come to win and I’m going to take him to school and make a statement. I’m really excited about it.”

Put through the mill in Sheffield by Coldwell alongside gym-mates Tony Bellew, the McDonnell brothers and Jordan Gill, Fowler knows he has been doing right by his trainer as he has managed to keep his cornerman quiet. The usual verbal pushing seems to have gone for the time being. Fowler has upped his game in the remaining weeks of camp and it’s pleasing his boss.

“Dave’s normally on my case giving me abuse all the time saying you’re doing this wrong, you’re doing that wrong but the last month or, so he’s been happy.”

Fowler’s drive to succeed, backed by his team pushing him to the limit, has seen him relocate to the Steel City during the build-up to a fight. His loved ones and his dog are missed but his (mostly) positive interaction on social media gives him a boost when times are tough and the fighter himself is feeling blue. Something he is extremely grateful for.

“I’m down here on my own chasing the dream and having people support me who I don’t even know, it gives me a little boost when I’m feeling down so thanks to everyone for keeping me going.”

The dream has barely got going with just a half dozen fights to his name. The Matchroom promotional machine enabled him to make his debut at Bramall Lane on the Kell Brook-Errol Spence Jr. undercard. And the lights, camera, action of it all ensured he fought at the Echo Arena in his home city, the SSE Arena in Belfast and once already at the O2 Arena in the English capital.

His personality and his fearlessness mean none of the above fazes him and why should it? After his endeavours in the amateur game the transition to the pros should have been as smooth as a goal-scoring finish by his cousin, famed Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler.

“I’m comfortable. I walk with confidence,” beamed Anthony F.

But the start of a boxing career isn’t without its lumps and bumps. Fowler wanted six wins and six knockouts. One (Laszlo Fazekas) went the distance, to his annoyance.

“The only reason that went to the scorecards because my hand was damaged,” he said, adding: “Before my debut I tore a ligament in my knuckle on my left hand and it was killing me, but I thought I’m not going to pull out my debut. I won in one round, but the injury was holding me back and in my fourth fight my hand just blew up, my hand was killing me the whole fight. It was hurting, it was bleeding and I won on points, but my hand was damaged bad, so I said you know what I’m going to get this fixed now.

"I had four fights with an injury, so I thought enough is enough. It takes a long time because ligaments are worse than bones to damage. It took five months to get better before I boxed again. It took away my momentum. It was hard. I was moving at a nice pace, I was looking good, I was improving and then bang I’m off five months, so it was a bit of a nightmare but this year I’ve been completely injury free and everything’s been going great.”