'Be happy, win the British and fight the best': Ricky Summers interview
Photo: Jack Thomas/Getty Images
Ricky Summers tells Oliver McManus he is aiming to get in the British title mix, starting with a win this weekend against Lawrence Osueke...
Britain's light heavyweight scene is much like any other weight division - whilst the 'elite boom' is on the back burner there are a host of talents all clamouring around for British titles. Guys like Dan Azeez and Shakan Pitters are emerging as young wolves to challenge the more experienced figures of the division.
Ricky Summers - one of those 'seasoned campaigners' - has had to remain patient for his opportunities since fighting Frank Buglioni in 2017. He spoke to Boxing Monthly ahead of his fight against Lawrence Osueke this weekend and began by describing "the perfect storm of circumstances".
"When I fought Buglioni it was all a bit 'right, where do I go now?' because there weren't that many options. I was supposed to fight Joe Sherriff for the Midlands [Area title] and he pulled out but that was the next 'big opportunity'. Thankfully it's not like that now and yeah I lost to Andre Sterling [in February] but because there's so much depth [of talent] I've been able to jump straight back into a big fight.
"I was forgotten about a little bit after the Buglioni fight but this time there were genuine options; I was offered a fight out in Germany. The British [title] is my goal and this is the perfect opportunity."
That loss against Sterling, also a British eliminator, stung Summers bad. The fight took place eight months after the Wombourne fighter withdrew, through illness, from a fight with Joshua Buatsi and was a calling card back to the British title. A cocktail of unwelcome scenarios, in stark contrast to this preparation, left him "fighting at 40 per cent", though he did drop Sterling in the second round. A rematch with the Londoner is high on his agenda.
“I could really kick myself about that: I can accept losing to Buglioni because I gave that everything I’ve got but I didn’t show half of my ability against Sterling. That’s the fight I really want. I can’t get it out of my head how bad I fought that night because I know people will think that’s all I’ve got. I’m hoping they [Lawrence Osueke’s team] will look at that and think they know what I’m about - that I’m a bit of a soft touch - because I’ve got the bug back for boxing and I’m really enjoying it again. I know I’ve got more to show than that.”
After that fight, in February, the 32-year-old went on holiday, taking time to assess his options. It was decided that he should try and shake up the team around him. Leaving his 'best friend' was an agonising decision; but having linked up with Spence McCracken, Summers finds himself rejuvenated and refreshed.
“I’m a lot happier, boxing wise, than I have been in a very long time. It was really tough to leave Richard [Ghent] but I felt it was right for my career. To be honest I had a few trainers I was going to visit and see how things went but I met Spencer and we got on like a house on fire - it felt right.
"I’d gone a bit stale, and that’s no-one’s fault, but I’d got used to certain routines so we’ve mixed it up and it’s working really well. I didn’t feel [after Buglioni] like I was improving but I’m seeing some huge improvement in the gym since changing trainers and the proof is in the pudding.”
Summers spoke with a relaxation that you’d be hard pressed to have heard since that Buglioni fight. For the first time in a long while there is a sense of direction in his career with a palpable sense that the dots are finally joining together. His professional career, stretching back seven years, has seen the popular local build his name at a trio of local haunts; Dudley’s ‘The Venue’, Wolverhampton’s ‘Civic Hall’ and, more recently, the Walsall Town Hall. The days of six rounders in invariably dark venues are, for the most part, in the rear mirror.
“It’s been a bit stop-start my career; I was really close to my mum who I lost to leukemia, I’ve been setting up a business to provide for my family so it’s been hard to mentally be 100 per cent focused. I know so much more now than at the beginning of my career - basic things that you wish you knew at the start - I know my value and I know where I’m at.
"What people want to see are these 50-50 fights, [I’d] always say 60-40, because I’m a decent ticket seller - I’ll do 150-200 tickets - but you get to a point where people start asking questions. People don’t want to pay 40, 60 quid to watch me fight someone with a losing record and I don’t want to be boxing those guys either. I’d rather go round the country having hard sparring [than fight journeymen] because at least I’m learning then.”
Back in a position where a British title shot is, seemingly, only a fight away (the bout against Lawrence Osueke serving as an eliminator) there is a real doggedness to Summers. Twice an opportunity of his dreams has slipped through his hands but with a new team around him he has a genuine belief that it will be third time lucky.
“I thought I’d passed up my opportunity [after pulling out of the Buatsi fight]. The last year or so has been booming at light-heavy and those couple of blemishes on my record sort of make more appealing to fight than if I was unbeaten, I guess. They might look at me and think ‘ah he’s been beaten before’ or ‘he doesn’t have a high knock-out ratio’ but I’m hitting harder than ever before and I’m not some stepping stone for people to make their name off.
"I think that’s what they might be thinking in this fight. It’s too soon for him, too soon, he’s come from a good amateur pedigree but it’s a different ball-game as a professional. I know a win puts me in line for the British title and that’s always been my goal.”
The family man was brief in outlining his ambitions for his time remaining in boxing and they’re commandments that are hard to argue with. “Be happy, win the British and fight the best.”