World ambition: Francesco Patera interview
Luca Rosi catches up with European lightweight champion Francesco Patera, who sprung a surprise when he defeated Lewis Ritson last October...
Since defeating Lewis Ritson to capture the vacant EBU lightweight title on 13 October, Francesco Patera has already notched up one title defence, outpointing France’s ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Petit on 16 February in Herstal, Belgium.
Having just returned from a break in Valencia, the 25-year-old from Genk, who now has a record of 21-3, spoke to us about a hectic four months since that memorable win at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle and his thoughts on the world and European lightweight scene.
“I found out around mid-November that I would fighting my mandatory challenger, Marvin Petit. I had started some light training after the Ritson fight but then ramped things up in December. I had a 12-week camp for this fight. It came a little quick, and I could have probably done with a bigger time gap, but I felt good and was ready to go.
Tricky first defence
“I thought that Petit would attack and come forward, a bit like Ritson had done. It turned out to be a tactical fight and I had to adapt as he waited for me to make the first move before coming back with counters. The first few rounds were difficult – his left thumb caught me in the eye in the second round, which caused some swelling but it didn’t affect my sight – but I felt I had the fight under control from the fifth round onwards. I was able to command the middle of the ring and judge my distance well so he wasn’t able to land any telling blows. All my family and friends came to see me, which made it a special atmosphere [at the Hall Omnisports ‘La Préalle’ in Herstal].
World title hopes
“I want to fight for the world title, and that’s the direction we’re going in and working towards. Obviously, these things are never simple so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I certainly feel that I’m ready, and given the opportunity, I am confident that I can win a world title. It’s a tough division, there are some great champions, but as I said, I have a lot of belief in myself and my capabilities.
“There are also some great potential match-ups at European level. You’ve got the likes of Campbell, Crolla and Burns [ranked two, three and four respectively by the EBU), and I’d be happy to take on any of them – it makes no difference to me. A rematch with Ritson would have also been appealing if the conditions were right, but it seems that he’s decided to move up in category due to weight issues [the Geordie was due to defend against Andy Townend but has since relinquished his British title, moving up to light welterweight]. I would hope to have my next fight around mid to late June.
Edis Tatli vs. Teofimo Lopez [on the Crawford-Khan undercard on 20 April at MSG]
“Having fought Tatli twice [Patera beat the then European champion in the first of two fights with the Finn – he would lose the rematch seven months later. Tatli’s only other reverse was an MD loss against Cuba’s Richar Abril for the WBA world lightweight title in 2014] I can say that he’s a very clever fighter, very tactical with a good defence. He’s very experienced and still relatively young at 31. Lopez we know all about, he’s heavy handed and an unbeaten prospect [12-0] but he won’t have fought anyone of Tatli’s calibre. If he’s still in his best form I think he [Tatli] could cause an upset."