Carmarthenshire hard case Dale Evans warns Bradley Skeete that he’ll be infinitely better prepared and better equipped for his second British title challenge than he was for his first.
Twenty-one months ago, in only his 15th start and on just 10 days notice, the then 23 year old dumped reigning European king Sam Eggington heavily onto his rear in round two, before running out of petrol and conceding a clear decision.
But there have been significant changes since that ‘dummy run’.
‘Previously, I was doing a 180 mile round trip from Carmarthen to Gary Lockett’s gym in Cardiff, often after a 10 hour shift working on the concrete,’ claims ‘Big Boy’, who earned the right to a second bite after a fatal two knockdown fifth round stoppage of Dundee’s Mike Towell last September.
‘Prior to starting work, I’d have been up between 4.30 and 5 (am) to go for a run. Mentally, it was very draining. Horrible. It made me hate boxing, hate training.
‘But since the end of last year, I’ve been sponsored by Castle Scaffolding which allows me to live as a full-time boxer. If you’re decent and want to make it in the boxing, that’s what you have to do. Today I stay with my girlfriend at my sister –in-laws in Magor, a 15 minute drive from Tony Borg’s gym in Newport.
‘I get to train alongside the Selby brothers (IBF featherweight king Lee and British flyweight boss Andrew) plus Craig Evans and Robbie Turley. There’s great variety in the sparring and a real winner’s mentality at the gym. I’m really enjoying my boxing again.
‘I didn’t have a lot of confidence earlier in my career but, right now, I’m on cloud nine in the gym. The greater my confidence the better I’ll perform. I’ve the financial backing to train full time.
‘For my last British title challenge, I had just 10 days notice for a 12 round fight which simply isn’t enough time. I pretty much spent the time in my running gear just to get the weight off and my fitness up.
‘But for months now I’ve been working hard in the gym on a daily basis. The fitness is already there and I’ve had over four weeks to prepare for a particular opponent. Luxury.’
After scuffling with Brummie Eggington at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena, the St Clears’ strongman again travels to the champion’s yard, facing Penge’s Skeete at the capital’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday week.
‘Travelling to London won’t faze me,’ insists Evans who has lost just three of 18.
‘It’d be far more strange if I had massive home support. I always fight across the bridge and I’ll be taking my usual army of over 100 fans with me.’
The Welsh warrior has the misfortune of facing one of the most gifted of the current British champions but, having scalped Eggington in a 2013 Prizefighter sprint, he is not averse to a spot of giant killing.
‘Brad could have made a quick voluntary and vacated, leaving me to fight a lesser man for the vacant title but there’s far more kudos in ripping the belt off a quality champion,’ states the mandatory challenger.
‘Bradley’s a tall, rangy, slick boxer with a good engine. I’m not gonna out box him. I won’t win on points.
‘But I think I’m being overlooked. He’s telling everyone he’s world level and talking of fights with (Manny) Pacquiao when he’s got a VERY hard fight ahead of him. I bring real hunger and determination. I’ve got heart and an engine. There’ll be tough rounds for Bradley, guaranteed.
‘Shayne Singleton drew Bradley into a fight but only had four rounds in him then dwindled. I guarantee I’ll not get stopped by Bradley Skeete. I’ll only get stronger as the fight goes on.
‘My four stoppage wins in 18 fights doesn’t do justice to my power. If I can get inside and land clean, he’ll become very wary. I’m not sure that Bradley’s ever fought anyone as physically strong or who punches as hard as me. Sam Eggington doesn’t punch anywhere near as hard as I do.
‘My trainer Tony gave me a tape of Colin Jones knockout wins over Kirkland Laing to study. We see a similar Welsh victory. I intend shutting a few mouths and shaking a few people up!’
Elsewhere on the card Light-Heavyweight monster Anthony Yarde challenges Richard Baranyi for the WBO European belt; Darryll Williams and Jahmaine Smyle rematch for the English Super-Middleweight belt after their Fight of the Year contender in April; Sam McNess gets his first pro title shot against Southern Area Super-Welterweight Champion Asinia Byfield; undefeated Heavyweight Hughie Fury makes his eagerly-awaited return and teenage Heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois takes on Julian Fernandez for the Vacant WBC World Youth Heavyweight strap.
Tickets for Skeete v Evans priced at £40, £50, £100, £150 and £250 are available from www.eventim.co.uk