The Punching Picasso

James Oddy
24/07/2016 10:23am

Today sees one of the most intriguing English title fights for some time. Ricky Hatton managed stylist Anthony Upton (12-1, 4 KOs) travels to Chase Leisure centre to take on Luke Paddock (14-1, 1 KO) for the super lightweight crown.

Upton was kind enough to speak to Boxing Monthly a few days ago whilst engaging in an evening run, barely pausing for breath and clearly relishing the showdown.

“Everything has gone well, been training now for nine weeks," Upton said. "Everything has gone as smooth as it can go. Sparring has gone great. My runs have gone great. And this is the best I’ve felt ever, so I can’t wait.”

Paddock resides in Bloxwich, a relative stone's throw from Cannock, as opposed to the London based Upton. But traveling into enemy territory holds little fear for him.

“I don’t mind. I’ll fight anywhere in the world. It’s any boxer’s blood I think, they’ll go into anyone’s back yard. As an amateur I boxed all over the world, in many different countries. I boxed in Ukraine, knocked the guy out in the first round. So I’ve had some tests. It doesn’t matter to me, it’s only another ring, and it’s where I go to work.”

Cannock is nothing in terms of distance on Minsk, in Belarus. Upton travelled to the city in his fifth fight to box a local fighter [Siarhei Afonin]. It was an odd move, and one that Upton enlighten BM on how it came about.

“Ricky Hatton, he has foreign fighters that we train with. One of them is Sergey Rabchenko. We were out there because it’s their country. Ricky thought, nothing better than taking two of his own fighters, me and Sonny [Upton, brother of Anthony], to get used to that hostile crowd. It was a strange one, the crowd were weird, and they weren’t shouting, just silent. It was good. A good experience.”

It reflects Upton’s confidence in himself and his talents that he has the willingness to step up to challenges in new environments.

“I’ve always been, as an amateur and a professional, highly confident in myself. Because I know what I can do on my day, so I know what I’m capable of doing. I’ve got no doubts at all; I’ll be taking that title home. I’ll be getting redemption from losing against Joe Hughes. Then I’ll crack on from there. Everywhere I want to get to in life, this is a hurdle, and I’ve got to get over it.”

The loss to Hughes last December is Upton’s sole loss, and was honest and open about the experience.

“He is a very good boxer [Joe Hughes]. No disrespect at all. I lost to him. I’m not making excuses; I lost to the better man. But there was a lot at play in that fight. My first time doing a 10 rounder, I only had four weeks training for the fight. I know with the right training camp behind me I’m capable of beating anyone at my weight with a proper training camp. That’s my only thought in that fight, was my own training camp. I didn’t have long enough. I took it as an opportunity, and fair play to Joe he’s gone on to box Jack Catterall [WBO Inter Continental champion]. But maybe later on we’ll do it again. But first, Luke Paddock. On Sunday I’ll take care of business.”

Quite correctly, Upton isn’t looking beyond Paddock.

“I’m focussing on Luke, he’s no push over. He is where he is for a reason. We are fighting each other for a reason, we are obviously good. So I am not overlooking him, but I am very confident, with the rounds behind me and the proper training camp, and my confidence spot on, I know I’ll be victorious on Sunday night.”

Brother Sonny is boxing at middleweight against William Warburton at middleweight on the undercard, but it won’t prove a distraction according to Anthony.

“It’s happened a few times. As amateurs we boxed together in America a couple of times on the same show. There’s nothing new there. I also see what he does in his training and he does everything I do, and pushes himself to the limit. So I’m confident when he boxes on the same show that he’ll take care of business also.”

Tickets are still available for the show, including on the door. And Upton is keen to showcase his box of tricks to anyone who attends.

“[My style is] different. Different to anyone else. I can box, I can counter punch, I can move, I can stand there and trade. But, my main attributes are my speed, which is where my power comes from. Many of my knockouts have been via setting traps and throwing a shot they didn’t see coming. [I’m] just a stylish fighter that loves showing people it’s an art. So I love getting in that ring and painting my masterpiece.”