Liverpool’s Robbie Davies’ jnr and Michal Syowatka, the Pole who snatched the WBA Continental super-lightweight title from the scouser’s grasp in July last year, are both confident of victory ahead of their highly anticipated rematch at the Liverpool Convention Centre on 31 March.
One of the standout fights of 2017, Davies was ahead on all three scorecards in that third defence of his crown – and had briefly decked Syowatka in the ninth round – before, in a pulsating final nine minutes, the then 29-year old Pole fought back gallantly to force a sensational stoppage with just 72 seconds of the fight remaining.
Unanimous in their appreciation of both boxers, fight fans and commentators alike called for an immediate rematch. Following some minor scheduling hiccups that were out of their control, Davies jnr and his manager, Neil Marsh, have duly obliged and both camps predict a thrilling contest come fight night.
Enacting a rematch clause in the original contract, Marsh set about finalising the return contest but, due to minor injury and personal problems concerning Syrowatka, the second leg of their growing rivalry – scheduled first for November and then December 2017 – had to be postponed until this month.
Reflecting on his performance last time out, and the return contest, the former standout amateur with Knowsley Vale ABC in Kirkby, Merseyside, is keen to set the record straight on a result he says was due to an illness picked up during his training camp.
He said: “I just ran out of energy near the end of the first fight because of what had happened beforehand and not relying on my boxing to see me through. I was ahead, way ahead, on all the scorecards by the tenth but I had nothing left. I’d picked up a virus in the last weeks before the fight and was ill for a while. I came close to pulling out but I didn’t want to let anyone down and decided to go ahead with it.
“In hindsight maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do but it’s also given me a lot of confidence ahead of this fight. If I was ahead even when I wasn’t 100% then imagine what I’ll be like when everything has gone to plan, with no injuries or illnesses to stop me from training hard and being at my best?”
With a full, uninterrupted and virus-free training camp behind him, Davies’ answer to his own question isn’t difficult to predict. The 28 year-old said: “This is the best I’ve ever felt before a fight. I’ve had a great camp, a long camp, with great sparring and I feel great. This time before the first fight I wasn’t in a good place – but I’m a million times better now.”
Keen to express his appreciation and thanks to the team behind his preparation, Davies added: “Thanks to Neil for getting the fight over here, I know it hasn’t been easy to organise with the delays last year.
“I’ve also got to say that my team in the gym have given me everything. Dave [Tonks], Joe [Tonks] and Alan Kaufman have really pushed me. They’ve put the graft in definitely. Martin Cullen, my strength and conditioning coach, has made a massive difference too and my strength has improved massively. My dietician, John Clarke, has got this one perfect for me as well. He’s kept me fully fuelled while I’ve lost weight.
“All their hard work together will show on the scales on Friday and in the ring come Saturday. I know what needs to be done and I’m going to do it. Win that belt back and with it the ranking that I need to get me back on track.
“He’s a tough kid, game as anything, but if I box and move like I can then there’s no way I’m not leaving without the title.”
With his injury and personal issues overcome, Syrowatka – who, in his performance against Davies, proved he is as tough a visitor to these shores as there has ever been– is also confident of victory.
The Pole arguably surpassed even his own countrymen’s expectations last year and the resilient and super-conditioned dangerman – avoided by a lot of fighters in the division – fearlessly proclaimed from his training camp last week: “I am going to Liverpool for a second victory. It will be difficult but I am myself very confident of victory.”
Citing his performance in the first contest, the long training camp he has had for the rematch and his ability to adapt when under pressure, Syrowatka added: “I won the first fight by TKO. I am confident I will win again because I have had a lot of time for preparation, we have been able to do a lot more than last time.
“We are preparing for a boxer who is well known for us. Of course he will change something, but we can make some changes as well. The fight will be difficult and probably different than the first one but in my opinion my opponent will be a little bit unsure after the last fight.”
Referring to his own feelings following his only loss in 20 contests – a fourth round TKO to experienced former European welterweight champion, Rafal Jackiewicz, in 2015 – Syrowatka concluded: “I know how it is after a knock out, there is always a bit of hesitance. We will see what happens on 31 March. See you in Liverpool.”
Marsh too is anticipating the return, a contest – and card – he says has taken a lot of time and patience to arrange, but he is also confident that his charge will ultimately prevail.
He said: “I look forward to exciting fights as much as the next fan, and in this we certainly have excitement. Robbie admits he was under par for the first contest, but he nevertheless put in a great performance that almost won him the fight.
“He did win a lot of plaudits for his courage however, as did Syrowatka, and the rematch – whilst difficult to arrange with all the postponements and everything else – has certainly garnered a lot of interest. The support from all the fans of the lads on the show has been fantastic and it should be a memorable night.”
Looking back to Davies’ first loss as a pro last year, and the tough but commendable choice Team Davies have since made in taking the return, Marsh revealed: “As a team we were devastated following the loss in July but Robbie, a very talented and tough man, is a warrior. We could have chosen different, perhaps easier ways to return but he didn’t want to do that, he wanted the rematch. He wanted to right the wrong of the first fight.
“We’ve done all we can to help Robbie. I’ve paid European title money to get Syrowatka over here and give Robbie home advantage – this just doesn’t happen with small hall shows. Dave Tonks, Robbie’s trainer, and the rest of the team have done a great job in preparing him for this fight – he’s in great shape and that’s down to Dave and the rest of the coaching team.
“We know Robbie can go all the way to the top in the sport and you have to beat the best to get there. Beating Syrowatka, who no-one wants to fight – we know exactly how tough he is, he’s no mug – is the way to do it. We know he’s coming to win but Robbie is ready. Win this and he will be back on track for a world title fight either later this year or early next year.”
Discussing the rest of the card, the potential for the Davies jnr v Syrowatka showdown to clash with other anticipated contests the same night and how relieved he is now that fight week has finally arrived, Marsh added: “We are always looking to put on exciting fights with local fighters and this show fits the bill perfectly. All the lads on it are top talents with a lot of fans. It should be a great atmosphere.
“We just want to reassure everyone that Robbies’ fight won’t clash with Joshua v Parker the same night – although I believe some of his mates have sold their Joshua tickets to come and see him anyway!
“It’s a relief to finally get here too – the postponements and so on didn’t help – but the Liverpool Convention Centre have been brilliant with us, very understanding, and, like lots of people, I can’t wait now. Everything is in place for a great night – a night that I couldn’t have organised without the help of Phil Jones.”
With a mix of local talent and emerging prospects, the bill – co-promoted by Kieran Farrell and Neil Marsh – also features Liverpool’s Lee Boyce and Brian Phillips, as well as Warrington pair Danny Craven and Courtney Chadwick, Southport’s Jake Barton, St Helens’ Rob Beech, Ellesmere Port’s highly ranked Mason Cartwright and undefeated London super-middleweight, Lerrone Richards.
A small number of tickets, priced at £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 (VIP) – plus booking fee – for Barton’s next fight at Liverpool’s BT Convention Centre (The Auditorium) on Saturday 31 March, are available from 0344 8000 400 and the Liverpool Echo Arena website http://www.echoarena.com/whats-on/a-night-of-championship-boxing/
The weigh-in, open to the public, for all contests takes place at Liverpool’s Jury’s Inn at 1pm, Friday 30 March.