Etches was felled in the fourth round of his clash with Sergey Khomitsky on Saturday at the Sheffield Arena, but the 24-year-old is absolutely convinced he will learn from his split second lapse in concentration and return to the ring both wiser and stronger.
“Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t part of the game plan, but it has certainly taught me a lesson which needed teaching,” said Etches. “My unbeaten record is gone but I am not looking back, only forwards as there are some massive fights out there for me.
“I’ve learnt one golden rule in boxing which my manager Richard Poxon is always telling me, the object of the sport is to hit and not get hit back. I think I got too confident and that all I had to do was stand in front of a fighter, trade blows and I would always come out on top. Maybe that’s because I had knocked out 15 out of 18 opponents before Khomitsky.
“It’s a tough lesson to lean but I’ve got to become a lot more difficult to hit, because otherwise I am a sitting target for any opponent. I’ve been told this countless times before by my team, but the penny has now well and truly dropped.
“I’ve got enough power to halt anybody, but I also have to become a lot more defensively savvy. That has got to change.”
Etches accepts that he was “naive” in being caught by Khomitsky.
“I should have never got myself into trouble, but I did and that’s all my fault. I think it was a case of being naive and not concentrating fully. I was told time and time again that I had to be careful with such a dangerous opponent but it didn’t sink in properly and I have to face the consequences. I have been through a difficult experience but it will do me good in the long term, I’m certain of it.”
‘Bomber’ Etches, who has recently become engaged to his girlfriend Danielle, says he felt he badly let down the hundreds of supporters who travelled to the Sheffield venue, only to watch him walk onto an overhand right by Khomitsky, just as it seemed he was bossing the fight.
“I’ve got to say a huge thanks to all those who came out to watch me and I’m so sorry I ruined your night, but I really feel this is the start of a new beginning for me,” he stated.
“Also, all boxing referees have a tough job but I got hit harder by Khomitsky in the first round than the one that put me down and I would have got back up if the ref had allowed me to. He kept me down on the canvas and called the fight off straight away.
“I am not going to criticise Howard Foster in any way, but I was certain I would get up. I was ready to get up, but the fight was called off immediately. If I had got up and my legs were still bandy, then fine, it should have been stopped straight away, but I didn’t get the chance to get up, which makes me very frustrated. I’m gutted about it.
“Having said that, I got caught by a good, clean shot which I didn’t see coming and I clearly have to tighten up my defence otherwise my dream of becoming a world champion won’t happen. I got hit and in the end my job is not to get hit. I realise that only too well now.”
Etches is determined to shake off his first loss and will return to the ring immediately after a short break.
“I want to get on the canvas again straight away and start climbing the rankings so that one day I will meet Khomitsky again and this time I will put right what I got so wrong. I want him to stay unbeaten until he fights me again and the next time there will be no mistakes, no lapses of concentration. I was sloppy and improvements need to be made before I meet him again.
“I’ve got to make what happened work to my advantage and that’s what my focus is now on. I’ll be back a ten times better boxer than I was before. I know I have got the power to beat anyone in the division, but I also need to work on the oldest rule in boxing: don’t get hit.”