Lost amid all the talk of multi-million pound paydays and world titles is the very simple fact that the vast majority of boxers have to fight to pay the monthly bills. There are a couple of major problems with that. Boxing doesn’t provide a regular wage and no boxer should ever sit down with a pen and paper to work out their hourly rate.
The lack of certainty means that lots of fighters combine their boxing career with a full time job. Going straight to the boxing gym after a day working on site or eight hours walking round an office makes it extremely difficult to fulfil potential and plenty of fighters who know they are capable of much more face the frustration of watching their primes slip away.
“I’m probably the best shape I’ve ever been”
Should they box full time and accept some short term pain without any guarantee of long term gains or just continue, hoping that the stars will eventually align for them?
After suffering a couple of defeats earlier in his career, British lightweight champion Gavin Gwynne sat down with his family to make that difficult decision.
“My wife said you never get the years back. She said I can always chase that money by working but I should go and chase my goals. I’ve got one life so live it,” Gwynne told 32Red. “I was always the one to go out and pay the bills and the mortgage and the nice things. It was the way my old man raised me so I was always the breadwinner.
“The first couple of months was hard. I’ve got a mortgage and a young family and I wanna give them the best. Sometimes you can’t afford those things any more and you wonder if it was the right choice but now it’s starting to pay off. I’m happy. I’m in a good place physically and mentally and probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in.
“I just want to keep winning belts”
“My first four years as a pro I didn’t make any money – I probably lost money – but it was just determination. Keep with it, it’ll payoff. I’m slowly reaping the rewards. Some people ask if I want to have this fight or want to win that belt. No. It’s not that I want to, it’s that I’ve got to. There’s nothing else I want to do but keep winning belts.”
Gwynne – who we can now call a former shuttering carpenter – finally has some stability. He has signed a promotional deal with Queensberry and fights Italian, Emiliano Marsili, for the European title at the York Hall on Friday night. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
It doesn’t take long to realise that Gwynne isn’t going to suddenly start resting on his laurels. He is unbeaten in his last five fights, during which he has won the British and Commonwealth titles. After working long and hard to prove himself worthy of financial backing, he isn’t going to let this moment pass him by. Gwynne wants to see just how far he can go.
“It is some pressure because it’s my first fight for Queensberry and I want to put on a good show for the fans,” he said. “At the start of my career I had a lot of doubters who didn’t even think I’d win a Welsh title let alone Commonwealth and British titles. That’s just down to belief in myself and the amount of hard work I put in and sacrifices I make.
“You’ve got to be selfish to get to the top”
“I sacrifice a hell of a lot. I miss spending time with my wife and my boy but nobody sees that side of it. They think because I’m a full time athlete I get to spend all these hours with my family but that’s not true. When I’m in camp I’m fully dedicated. It’s a bit selfish but I think in this sport you’ve got to be selfish to get to the top. I’m willing to put everything I can into the sport and try to get as many belts as possible.
“I just want to be known for being in good fights and not saying no to anyone. Even if they offered me a world title a couple of weeks later I couldn’t say no. That’s just the type of person I am. I’ve been offered loads of fights and accepted them and top fighters I won’t name have turned it down because they know it’s a hard night’s work with me.”
Marsili is an enigma. The former European champion is 47 years old and is unbeaten in 43 fights. He has been boxing at lightweight since he turned professional back in 2003 but has only boxed outside of Italy once.
In 2012 he came to England and stopped Derry Mathews in seven rounds. Marsili looked like a real handful. He was powerful, awkward, heavy handed and dangerous. That was almost 12 years ago and if Marsili was described a s a veteran back then, nowadays he is ancient by lightweight standards. It looks like the ideal opportunity for Gwynne to make a real statement.
“Against Marsili, I’m very confident”
“I know he’s got experience but I don’t think anybody is gonna live with me the way I’m feeling and performing in the gym,” he said. “I just don’t believe he’s gonna live with me if I’m quite honest. The last time I boxed at the York Hall was against another unbeaten southpaw in Luke Willis. Marsili might pack a bit more of a punch but as a boxer mover I think Willis is a better fighter.
“I beat another unbeaten southpaw, Sean McComb, who’s very awkward and I stopped him in seven rounds. I’m very confident. I’m massive for lightweight. He’s not big. I think the weight will be a big difference on fight night too.
“Talking is one thing but I’ve gotta go and do it on the night.
“People haven’t seen me box because I like to entertain. If I want to box on the back foot and beat him over 12 rounds I can do so but if I want to take him out, I think I can do whenever I want to. That’s a big statement but I’m sparring with welterweights and they’re getting out after four or five rounds.”