Chertsey heavyweight hope Nick Webb attributes the formidable power and athleticism that took him to an ABA final in the amateurs to his time as a teenage athlete, writes Glynn Evans.
‘Prior to boxing, I threw the shot put and discus for Newham and Essex Beagles AC from the age of 13 and that made me very strong,’ claims the 6ft 6in, 18 stone colossus who makes his pro bow in a four rounder against Croatia’s Hrvoje Kisicek at the York Hall tonight, live and exclusive BoxNation.
‘The shot developed the power for my straight right hand and the discuss developed the rotation for the hooks. I also played basketball and rugby,’
The 27 year old disclosed that he took to the fight game relatively late.
‘My grandad had been a boxer and had also done a bit of bare knuckle stuff. I always showed an interest when he spoke about his fights and, as the biggest kid, I was always fighting myself as a younger man,’ he says.
‘I always loved watching the boxing as a kid. My heroes were Ali and Lennox Lewis. Ali was always entertaining. I loved his speed and movement. Lewis could throw power shots from any angle. Granddad passed away when I was about 22 and that’s when I started up myself.’
Boxing for the Woking ABC in Surrey, the qualified electrician who now works as a personal trainer didn’t start competing until he was 22.
‘I was 147 kilos (23st 2lbs!) when I had my first proper bout,’ he recalls.
‘I had 27 amateur fights and lost just five – three of them to (2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist) Joe Joyce. He’s the best I fought; doesn’t hit especially hard but throws so many. He’s extremely fit and can ship tremendous punishment.
‘First time was a very good, close fight that went to points. Second time, in the 2012 ABA quarter finals, a few people thought that I won but I didn’t. Joe out worked me.
‘Third fight, in the 2014 ABA semis, I had the wrong game plan. I went in trying to knock him out and nailed him clean a few times but he just took them and kept coming back. Eventually he overwhelmed me. I couldn’t cope with his high work rate. He never put me over – no one has – and I weren’t really wobbling.’
Joyce, of course, is presently ripping up trees in the World Series of Boxing so no disgrace there. Besides, there were several other good nights.
Webb says: ‘In 2013 I got to the (English senior) ABA final against Anthony Richardson from the Army but lost a 3-2 majority decision. The fight was held up in the north-east (Rainton Meadows Arena) where he was from and he had a massive crowd which I believe influenced the judges. I gave him two counts in the final round and the TV commentators had me winning.
‘Before that, I won the National Novices for under 20 bouts and I also beat a 155 kilo (24st 5lb) guy on a club show in Chicago. The Woking was a great club for trips. We also went across to the MGM gym in Marbella.
‘My goal as an amateur was to get on the GB set-up in Sheffield and I had four trials. I thought I did well but they already had Joyce and Frazier Clarke and didn’t need me.’
When ex WBO heavyweight challenger Scott Welch approached with an offer to join the profession. ‘Big Nick’ decided to take the plunge.
‘The prospect of tutelage off Scott was a big factor in me accepting,’ says Webb who is managed and coached by the former British champion.
‘I train with him three times a say down in Brighton from Monday to Friday and we get on really well. Already I’ve learned a lot of technical stuff from him. He’s helped me with my power and how to use my strength on the inside. He preaches: ‘Big man, small target.’ An ex-Marine called Matt runs with me and helps with my strength and conditioning.’
The sport will never have too many big hitting heavyweights and the Surrey giant promises to be a very welcome addition to the industry.
He concludes: ‘I see myself as an entertaining fighter. I can box but first and foremost, I like to brawl. You’ll not find many heavyweights stronger than me. I’m pretty heavy handed and can throw all the shots. My game will be far better suited to the pros. Now I mainly need to develop my defence and fitness.
‘I’m just gonna train as hard as I possibly can, take one fight at a time and build my record. Ultimately, I wanna be the lion in the jungle!’
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