It’s fair to say that leading light-heavyweights Craig ‘Spider’ Richards and Shakan Pitters don’t like each other, don’t rate each other!
Since first paired to punch it out for the British title earlier this year, the bitter rivals have been sniping at each other like a couple of famished pit bulls during a fiery build-up to their Channel 5 televised collision at the Fly By Nite Rehearsal Studios, Redditch, on Friday 18th December.
Latterly, 6ft 6in Midland man Pitters, undefeated in 14 starts, has publicly slaughtered his south London nemesis as a deluded, puffed up super-middle who is easily frustrated and crumbles under pressure when cast in the spotlight.
The ‘Spider’ man – thus named after a vanquished victim commented that he appeared to possess more than two arms! – unsurprisingly begs to differ.
‘I’d known Shakan for a while and everything was always cool. Then, from nowhere, as we both progressed, Shak started bad mouthing me on social, saying weird stuff that I was scared, ducking him….please!’ mocks the 30 year old Richards whose only reverse in 17 was a short-notice 12 round points loss to then British champ Frank Buglioni on an Anthony Joshua undercard at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in October 2017.
‘Shakan’s a clown. I saw him dropped by a real journeyman (Czech Jiri Svacina) earlier in his career. And he’s not dangerous, ain’t stopped anyone who wasn’t stopped about 20 times previously.
‘I don’t really care about him. Listen, in the past, they’ve all called me out. They all say a lot of things before the bell rings. Jake Ball was taller. He’d been at Team GB. No way could I outbox him. He had quicker hands, quicker feet……he was smashed in three!’
‘After I expose Pitters, he’ll have to go back to the drawing board just like all the others did. Afterwards, they all say: ‘I didn’t realise you were so strong, didn’t know you hit so hard.’ Shak’s in for a serious reality check.
‘Look, he’s ‘half’ decent. Half. He relies on his height and keeps running but there’s a lot of flaws. Everything he does is simple, basic, nothing I’ve not seen or faced before. There’s nothing unique about him. I’ve tall sparring partners who are exactly the same.
‘Him coming down from cruiser and me coming up from super-middle will work against him. I’m the more NATURAL light-heavy. I’ll have more energy. Besides, I mostly spar decent cruisers and always walk them down.’
To compensate for conceding physical advantages and home court, cruncher Craig (eight stoppage wins), holds a sizeable sway in ring experience over the reigning champion who acquired his crown with clear win over Newark’s Chad Sugden in August.
Though Richards’ CV lists just three extra fights, he has 24 more pro rounds on his slate. While Pitters has passed round six just twice, rugged Richards has the security of having completed the 12 round championship trip against both Buglioni and New Cross nugget Andre Sterling (dumped and decisioned in an eliminator), plus a further 10 in an early career Southern Area 12st win over Alan Higgins.
‘Shakan was hurt several times during his English title win with Dec Spelman. Unlike Pitters, I’ve been an underdog. I’ve been out of my depth. There’s a lot he’s still not been through. I know how to handle a crisis. He doesn’t,’ warns Richards.
‘I seriously don’t like six or eight round fights. Tens and 12s suit me more cos I can systematically break a fight down, control and maintain a pace that others can’t match. I finish stronger than I start, both in the gym and on fight night.’
And Richards openly scoffs at the suggestion that he caved under the weight of expectation, firstly against Buglioni, then again when held to an eight-round tie by Sugden in his title tune-up last December.
‘Look, I’ve been the co-main event before 10,000 at the O2 and won. I’ve boxed on AJ undercards, Golovkin undercards. Big fights, real pressure. Been there, done it,’ states Richards.
When judgement day arrives, the ‘Spider’ man predicts Pitters will suffer a severe case of arachnophobia; tangled in his web, then ruthlessly devoured.
‘There’s multiple factors as to why I beat him,’ he concludes.
‘I’ll not chase a stoppage but if the opportunity presents, I’ll get him out of there. I definitely have the artillery. I’m different calibre altogether!’