Patiently waiting: Joe Ham interview

Shaun Brown
07/10/2017 12:23pm Ham is looking to put on a show for the hundreds of fans travelling south to support him in Manchester tonight.

The (11-0, 5 KOs) 26-year-old Scottish super bantamweight has sold 300 tickets for his bout tonight on the Anthony Crolla-Ricky Burns undercard. His fans, loyal to him no matter where he’s fighting, obviously had no idea he’d be fighting Ricky Starkey, a 31-year old Liverpudlian with a losing record over six fights, but wherever Joe Ham fights they will follow.

“With fighting in Manchester, I thought ‘Oh good I don’t need to rush about dropping off hundreds off tickets’ because I sell a lot of tickets up here. I had to order 300 tickets for Manchester! It’s just been the absolute same, it’s been absolutely mental.”

While the postman delivers your tickets should you buy them online, Ham likes to go that bit further for his fans with a personal touch to say thank you.

“Everyone who buys a ticket off me I try to make sure I deliver it because they’re coming to support me. It’s alright someone buying it off the internet, but me delivering it makes it a bit different. I knew I’d get a lot of people coming down, people who supported me and then in came 300 which is great. People want to come and see you. I want to put on a show and it’ll be a great atmosphere with Scotland and England.”

Indeed, Crolla versus Burns does reignite the Auld Enemy rivalry. But this time it’s a friendly one as two of the nicest and most respectful chaps in boxing will lock horns for 12 rounds, shake hands and may well share a drink or two afterwards.

For Burns it’s another big fight, another big night – albeit away from home. Ham as well as fellow Scottish fighters such as Charlie Flynn, and in the past the likes of John Simpson, have a lot to thank the former three-weight world champion for. Without the success of Burns they may not have found themselves fighting on such big boxing nights in Glasgow.

“Without Ricky we’re stuck on the hotel shows trying to build ourselves up but with him he’s taken us along for the ride. Now I’ve had three fights on his undercards, and now this one in Manchester. Hopefully he keeps winning. He’s not going to be around forever but he’s keeping us going. I appreciate what he’s doing.

“We can’t always rely on Ricky. He doesn’t get the respect he deserves. It won’t be till a couple years down the line that he’ll get the respect he deserves, that’s what always happens.”

Ham will be hoping to establish himself as a headline act in Scotland when Burns does decide to call it a day. Josh Taylor is comfortably flying the flag headlining his own shows and looks set to pick up the baton from Burns but more is needed. Sadly, Gary Cornish was unable to make history last night in Edinburgh to become Scotland’s first ever British heavyweight champion, but Stephen Simmons came through against Simon Barclay to continue his quest of becoming a major force at cruiserweight.
Tommy Philbin, Stephen Tiffney and a host of others will be looking to make a name for themselves in 2018 and Ham is no different, chomping at the bit and willing to take on the likes of Gamal Yafai (WBC International champion), Thomas Ward (British champion) and Ashley Lane (Commonwealth champion.)

“I would take it if I got the opportunity. With Gamal I’ve boxed him as an amateur, travelled the world with him and sparred him, done hundreds of rounds with him.

“I would take the opportunity. Obviously, they’ve had a bit more title fights and stuff. They’ve done the rounds. They done the same thing, as soon as an opportunity came along they took it. It’s timing. I’m happy with everything that’s going just now. Gamal and Thomas are good boys. I’d happily fight any of them once I was in the top 10. I’ll fight anybody. I’ve realised that. No point in going backwards.

“Years ago, I was meant to fight Lane and (recent Commonwealth title challenger Michael) Ramabeletsa. Things happened. It just never happened. It’s a Commonwealth title shot which is the direction I want to go in. If an opportunity presents itself, and I feel it’s a good opportunity, I’ll take it not a problem. It’s just trying to get it.”