The next level: Sam Hyde interview

Shaun Brown
07/10/2017 7:05am

There is a bit of pressure off Sam Hyde’s shoulders nowadays.

The 23-year-old cruiserweight (10-0-1, 5 KOs) can now spend more time concentrating on his boxing, no longer having to set up different forms of income, no longer having to worry about ticket sales and no longer having a say in matters that should be left to those who don’t have to don boxing gloves on weekend nights.

Having left the ‘Champs Camp’ on Moss Side, Hyde hooked up with Joe Gallagher and his all-star gym in Bolton. Gallagher, who acts as both trainer and manager to Hyde, can let his new charge off the leash and leave the matchmaking and the business side to people like himself.

“I used to take some control of who I was fighting next,” Hyde told Boxing Monthly ahead of his first fight with his new team in Manchester tonight on the Anthony Crolla vs Ricky Burns undercard.

“You’re on the small hall shows and you’ve got to try and pick an opponent that’s right, because it comes out of your ticket sales.

“Obviously, I used to take a lot of interest in that but now, because I believe in Joe so much as a manager and trainer, whoever he does pick for me is I believe the right choice. Joe won’t put me in a fight that he doesn’t think I’m ready for. I’m clueless on the situation. I’m just enjoying the training ready to fight.”

Hyde is thriving off being surrounded by the likes of The Smith brothers, Paul Butler and Anthony Crolla alongside him in the gym. Success breeds success and so forth. And while Hyde won’t be overly challenged by Attila Palko (24-29, 16 KOs) later tonight, it is the first small step on the road to hopefully being at the forefront of a domestic division that could well explode with cruiserweight thrills and spills that we have become accustomed to over the years.

The short-term is all about Hyde and Gallagher getting used to one another, and for the latter to extract the maximum from the former.

“Joe will be learning things about me and the other way around. I’ll learning about Joe and the kind of things he’s thinking,” said the Cheshire cruiser.

“All I can say is as soon as I’m in the top 10 I’ll literally fight any of the top 10. Even now I’d fight any of the top 10, but lucky for me I’m just leaving all that to Joe. Obviously, we’ve spoke about other stuff as well but we’re concentrating on putting on a good performance in front of my new team.”

Hyde, Isaac Chamberlain Lawrence Okolie, Jack Massey and Arfan Iqbal are just some of the cruiserweight prospects plotting their own path of development and victories before – we hope – landing punches on one another in the next 1-2 years.

The very thought of it all excites Hyde. The big fights, the big nights. That is what he is in boxing for.

“I’ve said from day one I want as many stars and superstars in the division,” he said.

“There’s a pecking order and I understand that there’s ones ahead of me for a reason. That doesn’t mean they can beat me or they’re better than me. You’ve just got wait your time and when my time comes I’m going to snatch it with both hands. Even now I’m like I’ll fight him or I’ll fight him.”

When the time does come Hyde fully believes, as he is beginning to see now, that he will be the fighter that he always knew he would be. Something that he knows Gallagher will drag out of him whether it’s from the early morning runs or the day in day out of the arduous graft in the confines of the gym.

Eleven fights into his career and Hyde is pleased with his progress to date despite the odd bit of corner cutting that is now a thing of the past.

“I’ve made silly decisions out the ring and in the ring. Think my career I’ve had a lot of good learning experiences in and out the ring, like fighting when I’ve not trained properly, thinking I’m good enough to just knock an opponent out.”

It has been a mental state of affairs that Hyde has gone through that now sees him stand tall alongside the champions he works with. Something he doesn’t believe he would have had the confidence to do a couple of years ago.

“I wouldn’t have fitted in at Gallaghers Gym then,” he declared.

“With self-belief with Joe’s tuning, guidance and everyone in the gym pushing me on and me learning off all them I feel like it’s created the fighter I can be. My confidence is through the roof. I’m enjoying it and I can’t wait for my 12th fight to see the difference. I’ve got no pressure. I’m looking forward to my 12th fight.”

The Hyde/Gallagher experiment is in its infancy but in time – albeit with victories – there can be no doubt that doors will open and the fighter’s slot on cards will rise the more he impresses. As it stands he can go about his business early doors on a show. He is no headline act yet. Expectation is little.

On the flip side there is Lawrence Okolie (5-0, 4 KOs). A fellow cruiser with Olympic pedigree, the backing of Matchroom Sports and the kind of profile that will one day see the number of sponsors eclipse the number of fights he has had before too long.

And it might be easy to say that Hyde would not swap what he has for what Okolie has, but why would he? The pressure is on those in boxing’s public eye, like Okolie.

“I’m happy where I am. I understand from both points of view. From having the Olympic background and the big backing behind you, it makes life a lot easier where you don’t have to rely on ticket sales and your mates buying tickets.

“He was in the Olympics, he achieved what he did but I wouldn’t change it because the fights I’ve had and stayed low-key. There’s no pressure on me, the pressure is on him to perform because he’s built up as a star. Eddie [Hearn] will put his time and effort in and use his contacts, but when the time’s right you have to perform and keep winning and if you don’t you’re just like the rest of us.

“From where I’ve come I’ve had to set up different forms of income so I don’t rely on earning from boxing. I’ve had fingers in pies. If you were an Olympian you might just do your boxing, but I’m glad for what I’ve had to do. Now I’ve took a bit of a back step from it, not dedicating a lot of my time making money. I’m concentrating on my boxing.

“You could say it’s slightly easier (for Okolie) but as soon as you get to the top you’ve got to perform and if they do then fair play to him, they deserve that spot. But unfortunately for these promoters, who pile money into them, sometimes they don’t perform. I’m happy with where I’ve come from.”

Hyde has learned from many aspects of boxing. Learned not to rely on just blasting people out of there despite believing he would do, to taking on the litmus test of Blaise Mendouo in the early part of your career.

“A lot of people from my area thought I was going to lose (against Mendouo) because of his awkward style. I took the fight when he was hungry, he said it was like a world title fight,” Hyde recalled.

A box was ticked that night at the Bowlers in Manchester for Hyde. Six rounds and a points victory. 

He has gone into fights not 100 per cent. He has relied on his power, not listened to his trainer and dug deep when his opponents are still there despite Hyde landing his best shots… but now…

“I’m ready to step up to the next level.”