Former World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Lightweight Champ Terry Flanagan is aiming to rule the roost again in 2019, after suffering his only two career defeats this year.
Terry, 33-2 (13), hoped to become a two-weight world champ in June when he took on Texan Maurice Hooker for the vacant WBO World Super Lightweight crown in his home city of Manchester – but ended up on the wrong end of a split decision.
Then, in October in New Orleans, ‘Turbo’ was outpointed by highly-rated, big-punching American, Regis Prograis after entering the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS); this time hitting the canvas for the first time in his career.
With those setbacks behind him, Flanagan has since revealed that tendonitis – and an inability to do roadwork – hadn’t helped with making the lightweight limit. With the problem now resolved, the Mancunian says he would definitely compete again at lightweight if the right opportunity presented itself, but also still hopes to land the big fights at super lightweight.
“Personally, I thought the Prograis fight was a close one,” explained Flanagan, who is back in the gym, ticking over with trainer Steve Maylett. “Other than the round when I got knocked down, which he won clearly, I even came back at him in that round. He’s a good fighter, don’t get me wrong, but he never dominated me in any round, but obviously he was the home fighter and I knew it was going to be hard winning on points over there.
“We were hoping I’d catch him coming in, but he fought differently to what we expected. It was good tactics from him, we expected him to try and blow me away, but he went on the back foot. We trained for him to walk onto shots, but he never really committed to anything. The round where I did try and go forward, I got put on my arse, so maybe if I’d have done that more I might have got knocked out! It was a bad night for me, but it was a good experience going over there and fighting away from home. It was just a shame about the result.
“I’m in between lightweight and light welter, and I just want the quickest route back to a world title. I can still make lightweight, and I’m plenty big enough for light welterweight. It’s just that I fought one of the most awkward fighters at 10 stone (Maurice Hooker) and then came up against the [WBSS} favourite in his hometown! I don’t think I did enough to win the Prograis fight, but everyone was saying ‘it won’t go past a few rounds’, and I felt as strong as him in there.
“I’ve said to [manager] Steve [Wood], whatever comes up first, whether it’s lightweight or light-welter, then I’m easy. I’d face anyone – Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia, Crolla, Luke Campbell, Josh Taylor – those big fights are the ones I want; and I’ve proved that. My first fight at 10 stone was a world title fight after being out of the ring for 14 months, and when I lost I could have had an easy warm up, but I wanted to get in and test myself against the best [against Prograis]. Josh [Taylor] is a great fighter, I rate him highly. I think he’ll win the WBSS and, down the line, it’s the kind of fight I want.
“I’d like rematches with Hooker and Prograis too, I want them more than anything, to avenge those losses. I thought the Hooker fight was close, it was a split decision and I thought I might have done enough to nick it. He’s a good fighter though, and has just got another good win, but I said to Steve that I’d even have gone over to Texas to fight him, but it never came off.
“Looking back at the Hooker fight, for the first four or five rounds until I got the bad cut, I was winning comfortably, but I just lost my head. I never got hurt against him, and he was the big guy, the 10-stone fighter. Prograis was meant to be this massive puncher but I was never hurt until the knockdown, and it was a flash knockdown. I was up quick, and had my legs straight away.
“I know people will be looking at me and saying, ‘he lost his last two fights, the wheels have well and truly fallen off’, but it’s not the case. I had the longest unbeaten record of any active British boxer, but that pressure’s off now. That was holding me back, my trainer said to me in fights I was winning that I was holding back because I didn’t want to get beat; I was just doing enough to win. I needed to just go in and let my boxing flow, and I think that’s what will happen now. I was always more worried about losing than winning the fights. I still feel fresh, hungry and that I’ve got a lot more to give. You still haven’t seen the best of me.”