'I can punch, so I'm a high risk': Nick Webb interview
Unbeaten heavyweight Nick Webb has seen potential contests with Nathan Gorman and Daniel Dubois evaporate but remains confident in his ability and convinced that 2018 will be his breakthrough year...
Escape, avoid, evade, elude, shun and eschew are all terms we could use in boxing - instead we commonly use the word 'duck'.
It's a term 30-year-old Nick Webb feels particularly applies to him after potential showdowns with Nathan Gorman and Daniel Dubois failed to materialise for the undefeated 12-0 heavyweight.
Tough times and setbacks are nothing new for the Surrey-based pugilist though. Webb grew up in a family where money was hard to come by, the eldest of three raised by a single mother. As a consequence, Webb took on the role of 'the man of the house' from an early age.
Not having a father around had a major impact on the young Webb, who describes it as the worst thing he experienced as a youngster. "I think not having a dad, just growing up, I sort of depended on myself always," he explained. "I got a brother and a sister but she's about five years younger than me."
How, then, did the young man end up in boxing: was it due to not having a father figure in his life? The answer is no. It was actually the influence of another boxer in the Webb family.
"My grandad passed away, it must've been around when I was twenty," Webb recalled. "He was a boxer, he used to tell me his stories and then when he passed away after a few month or weeks I went down to my local boxing gym."
Despite his late start, Webb soon made a name for himself on the amateur scene. "I had 27 amateur fights," he said. "I was in the ABAs twice, I got to the finals one time."
It wasn't, however, all joy for Webb in the ABAs, as he explains when telling me about the lowest point of his unpaid career. "Being in the ABA finals, putting the guy down twice in the last round and still walking away with him getting the decision. That really annoyed me."
After losing to Joe Joyce in the 2014 ABA semi-finals Webb made the choice to turn to the paid ranks.
When Webb turned over he was signed with Frank Warren, a partnership which lasted about a year. Then, with three fights under his belt, Webb became a free agent, and thus able to box on anybody's shows, including Hayemaker Promotions, who matched him with Hari Miles on the undercard of David Haye's showdown with Arnold Gjergjaj at the O2, a night that Webb admits was "a really amazing experience".
What, then, does Webb view as the better situation to be in - having a promoter or being a free agent?
"It depends," he said. "If you're getting really looked after like [Daniel] Dubois then obviously not, it's good to be with one promoter, but if you're not in the spotlight then I think it might be a bit better to be a free agent. You are free to fight on anyone's show."
There have been frustrations aplenty for Webb though since he forged his own path. Last year he was made the mandatory challenger to fight for the vacant English title against Nathan Gorman, only for Gorman to pull out and face Mohamed Soltby for the WBC international silver belt instead.
"I was really annoyed about that because we were actually supposed to fight end of August for the English title then that got delayed, then two weeks before the fight, they decided they wanted to go a different way.
"You put your own money, all your time, you sacrifice, like it was my thirtieth birthday a month before and obviously I sacrificed that, I trained and I sparred that day. You sacrifice everything because you know, well think, this fight's happening then they pull it."
So what would Webb have done if he had been offered the Soltby fight?
"If I was training to fight someone for over two months I would go for the fight that I was supposed to go for but I can see it from their promoter's point of view. It was a guy who's a less risky fight, it was for a decent, well a world ranking. I can see why they have done it but I wouldn't have done it. The English title is still a good title to have."
Still occupying a mandatory position for the English title another potential opponent for Webb was subsequently announced by the British Boxing Board of Control - the new kid on the block - 'Dynamite' Daniel Dubois.
"They were like: 'you're gonna fight Dubois!' I was like, 'yeah no problem that would be great, let's fight!' [Then] he's pulled out of purse bids the day before [the deadline]. What I don't get is why didn't they do that straight away if they're not interested in the fight instead of making the other fighter wait until that date? I don't really get that."
Dubois is due to defend his Southern Area title against the heavyweight from Kent Dave 'DL' Jones and Webb says he is not surprised the Deptford man and his team have chosen the Jones fight over him.
"100 per cent I can punch, so I'm a high risk," Webb argued. "They know with someone like Dave Jones, I mean look at his record he hasn't got knockouts. At the end of the day who are they gonna want to fight, someone who can't knock someone out or someone who knocking most people out? Obviously, they would've taken Dave Jones all day.
"They wanna market him [Dubois] as an unstoppable force and that's what they are going to make him look like, so him fighting against someone who's gonna make him look bad or someone who can hurt him is not gonna make him look like the machine they want to market him as."
After the frustrations of the last 12 months 'Wild' Webb finally caught a break when he featured on the 'British Beef' card headlined by Laurence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain earlier this month.
Although the main event didn't live up to expectations Webb's bout was certainly explosive. Indeed, Webb's opponent Ante Verunica did not get to hear the bell for the end of the second round after a devastating right hook landed on the chin of the journeyman from Croatia.
"It's good for me to get out I've not fought since March, it's been a while," Webb said. "I'm really happy, to be honest. I'm still mandatory for the English [title] so I will fight for the English but it's about getting the opponent for that. It's been three times now [opponents have pulled out] and I'm still in the wind flapping.
"If no one's going to fight me for the English I'm not going to wait around for it if I can move on to bigger and better things 100% we will do that."
One potential opponent for Webb is Matchroom favourite David Allen, who is on his own mission to secure the Commonwealth and then the British title. 'Wild' Webb and the 'White Rhino' have traded words over social media, albeit of a jovial tone, and could well be on a collision course to box in the near future.
"The fight with Dave Allen has gotta happen," Webb admitted. "it would be an exciting build up and our styles would make for a great fight, And of course it would be a great platform to show the world what I can do!"
Finally, Webb - ever the gentleman - added: "I would like to thank my sponsors, Steve Dudman who's been there since day one. My manager and coaches Scott Welch and John Edwards and all of team Webb behind the scenes. 2018 is my year so keep following me and let's go get them belts!"