Selby, Joshua, Brook post-fight quotes
On a night of thrills and heartbreak at the O2 Arena, world title dreams were realized (Lee Selby) and dashed (Kevin Mitchell and Frankie Gavin) while the Anthony Joshua juggernaut rolled on impressively with a two-round blowout of Kevin Johnson. Kell Brook also cemented his claim as one of the best welterweights in the world with a composed and controlled performance. Boxing Monthly and the media talked to some of the protagonists after the dust had settled.
Lee Selby, IBF featherweight champion (WTD8 Evgeny Gradovich).
“It feels great. To be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in. It’s such a build-up with the training and the fight. After I fought, obviously I am buzzing. I am happy. When I was sat back in the dressing room, after an hour, I started feeling a bit down, a bit depressed. I was looking forward to the next fight. It’s just such a build-up and then it’s all over. I get nervous before the fights but as soon as I hear my ring tune and hear the noise [I enjoy it]. I over estimate my opponents. I make out they are better than they are in my head. When I get in the ring and slip their first punch and land mine, it feels natural really. [Gradovich] has probably been my best opponent, but I beat him relatively easily. I was just coasting through the rounds. With these pressure fighters, they are tough men. If you make them miss it disheartens them and breaks their heart. He was trying to pressure me through the whole fight. He was the world champion and it was his fifth defence. I wasn’t hitting him with my harder shots. I was breaking him down. I wanted a spectacular knockout. Until then I was just outboxing him, comfortable. I am mentally strong in the fights. Obviously, physically I am always super-fit – that’s when the mental strength comes in. I’ve been out to America sparring with lots of the tough Mexican fighters and they are the same kind of fighter so I’m just used to it.
“My older brother Michael started boxing before me and I followed after him. He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. He passed away in 2008. He was with a friend and they were out drinking. They had an argument and went their separate ways and he slipped down a ravine and drowned. He would have been proud of that performance. He is looking over me all the time. That’s why I wear ‘Slinky’ on the back of my shorts. That was his nickname.
“I’m still growing. I’ll stay at featherweight unless a great opportunity comes at the weight above or the weight below. Frampton and Quigg are big names in boxing. I’ll fight anybody. I am the 12th world champion from Wales. It’s great. Joining fighters I’ve watched growing up. It’s just an honour, a privilege.”
Anthony Joshua, heavyweight contender (WTKO2 Kevin Johnson):
“I always say that the training is torture and the fighting is the fun part. You just can’t hold back the excitement. I feel like I am developing. I am getting more comfortable with parrying shots, defending shots. As I start to develop, I enjoy my fighting more.
“If Johnson did test me then I’ve got problems. He’s not Wladimir Klitschko or Deontay Wilder so I’m not really worried about him. I don’t get phased by the likes of Johnson. I’m supposed to beat these guys in good fashion if I have any chance of beating the better opponents that will come in the next five or so fights. I knew that if he thought he could hit me with the jab he would think he could beat me. So I made sure I was wary of his best punch, which is the jab, and I made sure my jab was better than his. So when I started hitting him with the jab I could already see I was getting my range in. It wasn’t the best finish, but because we’ve been fighting back-to-back I think my inside work could be a bit better and I want to become a bit more devastating. I’ll get back in the gym. I didn’t take too much out of me. From my day one in the amateurs to now – you can see the progress. By my next fight you’ll see an improvement. Just little things. The jab was good today, the counter right was good, but the inside work could be a bit better. I was trying to use more angles, but I didn’t want to explode too much because I didn’t want to get ‘old manned’ and him tuck up and six rounds later I’ve punched myself out and he’s still there. All these things are going through your head. I don’t mind who I face next. It’s not about that. It’s just about my own self-development. The names that people want me to fight are David Price, Dereck Chisora, Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte.
“I’ve got no interest in these other opponents or conquering America. I’m only interested in how can I better myself and, if bettering myself takes me to be the best of the world in my division, then let’s go there. Let’s take it there. I could have been bricklaying or something. I’m so privileged that my cousin took me to a boxing gym and, out of nothing, we are making something work. I’ve got some real good people around me. It’s a real good career to be in and a great time to be involved. I’m here to enjoy it and I’m here to make the most of it and that’s why I graft in the gym. I’ve not taken my foot off the gas since 2008. God willing, it will stay the same as it’s going and, if it doesn’t, you will not see the last of me until my coach says, ‘You know what, Josh? That’s enough.’ This journey is about bettering myself and not trying to impress anyone. When you are in front of the camera so many times, your true character comes out so I am not a false person. I just am who I am. People are either going to like you or not. If you are a bad person they will pick up on that when they see you so many times in the media. If you are a good person people will pick up on it. I’m just being myself and people seem to get along with me. I think Paul Smith said it best, there are good guys trying to be bad and I’m a bad guy trying to be good! I love fighting and I enjoy it.”
Kell Brook, IBF welterweight champion (WTKO6 Frankie Gavin):
“We knew coming into this fight that Frankie would be very awkward and he’s a southpaw as well. But he’s got a good boxing brain. We knew it would be scrappy and he would be negative in the fight. His plan was always to get the early rounds out of the way and skip around the ring and cause problems for me so we knew being composed, chopping the tree down and it would be a matter of time before we’d catch up with him. I told him at the weigh-in. These people have paid good money. They want to see an all-action fight. Even though I didn’t really expect him to come and have a fight with me that’s what I wanted. We’ve been having good sparring in the gym. He was more open than we anticipated, but I did what I said I was going to do and I want big fights now. I want people to take me seriously. I am a world champion and I want to prove I am number one in this division. I know the division is piping hot, but every fighter I am getting in with my confidence is growing. Being active is very good for me. Being fit and well. The turnaround from the Jo Jo Dan fight coming into this fight, I was very confident and did what I needed to do. I’m after big names now. We’ll have a big fight in the late summer, a massive fight [likely to be Brandon Rios on August 29 at Bramall Lane, Sheffield]. Rios is an ex-world champion. We all know that he loves to fight and comes to fight. It’s a fan-pleasing fight so it’s one I am really excited about making. I want to rake some big dough in. Not having the Khan fight is frustrating. I’ve banged on about it for years now. I thought winning the belt it would happen. He’s still not picked the phone up about making the fight. I am a world champion and I am unbeaten and I am ready to take on the world. He must be scared of me. Why wouldn’t he fight a serious person in an open arena with a belt on the line? Why wouldn’t he do it?”