The heavyweight division in the UK is as exciting as it has been for quite some time. There is an Olympic gold medallist making leaps and bounds in the paid ranks, alongside promising contenders on the verge of title shots.
Obviously the always interesting (if not always family friendly) Tyson Fury is right there in the mix as Britain boasts a lot of interesting goings on in the sport’s biggest division.
All the big men are competing fiercely to reach the same goal and ultimately, are trying their hardest to keep themselves in the public limelight. With that said, it is easy to miss a quiet man going about his business in the highlands of Scotland.
Gary Cornish is a sizeable man and a bulky addition to the domestic scene as he stands 6ft 7ins and currently holds a 19–0 record as a professional. Cornish is not someone to be taken lightly, but has been out of sight and out of mind sparring Kubrat Pulev in Germany for his world title challenge against Wladimir Klitschko. The 27 year-old has steadily been building up his winning record, although is yet to fight an opponent of note in a career that has the Scottish people expectant for the future.
With recognisable, if not awe inspiring names in his win column such as Paul Butlin and Larry Olubamiwo, Cornish has done everything asked of him so far as he heads towards an inevitable British title shot. There has been talk of people wanting Cornish to take a step up and leave the much less glamorous opposition behind, as some have even been critical of the route Cornish has taken and offer little respect for his achievements thus far.
It is only when taking a closer look and understanding exactly where he is coming from, that the situation becomes more apparent. We all know of Anthony Joshua’s exploits as an amateur which culminated in the big puncher winning an Olympic gold in London 2012, but the amateur career of Cornish is a lot more modest to say the least and he has been gaining the experience needed to compete with the bigger domestic names.
With only nine amateur fights to his name, the Inverness fighter has been left to gain vital rounds on the job and is using quality sparring as the key to adding to his talents. Cornish takes those sessions very seriously and that is why he was so happy get the call to spend time in Germany.
“I went there for two weeks sparring with Pulev and I have been learning loads all the time,” Cornish told World Boxing News. “Kubrat was preparing to fight for the world title so it’s just great experience me being in his camp. Sparring is really important for my development and hasn’t always been easy to get, but I’ve been travelling a lot and got some great contacts so hope to get a lot more.’
It is also worth mentioning that although the fighter himself shows little care for whom or when he fights, he want to be in the ring regularly. Recent chances to step up a level have fallen through due to no fault of Gary himself as he had been scheduled to fight Sam Sexton in a British title eliminator before that fight was called off as a result to an injury to Sexton.
When asked how the fight being cancelled affected him and whether or not it’s a fight that would still interest him, Cornish is understanding and holds no bad feelings about the lost chance.
“I was gutted when the fight never came off but that’s boxing,” said Cornish. “I met Sexton before I turned pro and never expected that three years later I’d be scheduled to fight him. I wish him well though with his back problem and hopefully we’ll see him back in action soon.”
Action was taken to arrange a suitable replacement in order to keep the fight as an official eliminator as Ian Lewison was brought in and the clash was kept on course. As luck would have it, Lewison also pulled out sighting injury and Cornish was forced to settle for Olubamiwo at short notice. At the time Cornish stated he was glad of some much needed rounds after being taken the eight round distance, but the fight itself wasn’t what he or his camp had hoped for especially after Olubamiwo did little more than try and survive without daring to pose much of a threat to the big Scottish heavyweight.
It is all experience though and Cornish is just happy to stay busy. “To be honest I just want to fight! It doesn’t matter to me who. I’ve been offered a few fights abroad. I want them but they haven’t come off for one reason or another. I don’t have any fights lined up as of yet but hopefully we’ll get something sorted soon. I want to be a lot busier then I was last year.”
Scotland thus far have never had a British champion in the top division, so it’s easy to see why fans are getting excited about the ‘the Highlander. This is a country that has been dependant in recent years on the great Ricky Burns for its fix of top level action, but with questions marks over whether Ricky can still cut it at the top level, a space may be opening up for another fighter to become the biggest draw up north.
This isn’t something which concerns Cornish though, who is much more focused on his own career and simply flattered by the huge support that he is receiving from the Scottish public.
“I just want to go as far as I can. Ricky Burns is a legend and should be an inspiration to all Scottish boxers. I never look too far ahead I just focus on my next fight. The Scottish fans really get behind me and I’ve got quite a few fans in England who write to me as well which is really nice to see. It feels weird saying I have fans for boxing. I’ve boxed because I love the sport so to see so many people support me gives me a real buzz.”
It is not only understandable, but necessary that time be taken were building up a fighter is concerned and that is why a lot more emphasis is being placed on fighting and quality sparring rather than the fighters in the opposing corners at this stage. Cornish trusts his team around him and credits them at bringing him this far and believes they will take him further in the sport.
“I have to give my training team Paul Geddes and Andrew Young all the credit as they’re the ones that put in all the work out of their own time to train me and make sure I’m ready,” he stated.
In closing, Cornish was asked what the future holds for him and where he would like to be this time next year, of which the Tommy Gilmour promoted fighter is not only humble – but also seems to have his feet firmly on the ground and really doesn’t like to plan too far ahead. He simply once again emphasized his desire to stay active believing that this ultimately will get him the bigger fights in due course.
“I just want to get more fights! In a year’s time I’d like to be as busy as possible and just stay unbeaten. If this happens I can’t get ignored. I want to show my fans more. They are an unbelievable bunch who really get behind me. I want to thank them all for supporting and following me it means a lot.”
The UK’s heavyweight division has no shortages of possible opponents for Cornsih going forward, and with his desire to keep active obvious, we could be seeing the Scot in some huge domestic fights in the coming year should he keep up his winning ways. If so, it won’t just be Scotland who takes an interest in the likeable giant’s career, but all of the British boxing fans together.
You can follow Gary Cornish on Twitter @GaryHighlander or Tom MccQueen @TommyMac270288