Terry Flanagan has decided it’s high time he emerged from the shadows. Becoming a two weight world champion would be a pretty good way of going about it.
The former WBO lightweight champion has left the 135lb division behind and moves directly into a shot at the vacant WBO junior welterweight title against unbeaten American Maurice Hooker this Saturday night. Flanagan (33-0, 13 KO’s) has been out of the ring for 14 months and is raring to go.
“I was watching Josh Warrington walk to the ring the other week and I started getting those feelings in my stomach again and picturing how it’s going to be for me,” Flanagan told 32Red.
“I like to get in and for the bell to go. When I’m waiting in there and they’re announcing who the judges and ref are, I just want to get on with it. People ask me what song I’m gonna walk out to but I let Steve [Maylett, his trainer] pick it for me. I don’t give a f**k. I want the bell to go because it’s on then. All the bull is over. All the talk is done and it’s time to zone in.
“I’ve missed it and not just the money. I’ve missed the buzz of getting in there. You get forgotten about when really you wanna be on the tip of people’s tongues. You want people talking about you. At the moment though I’m the forgotten man and I’m not really getting a mention. I’ve got the chance to win this fight and become a two weight world champion. I do that and everything is rosey again.”
Despite five world title defences in three years, Manchester’s Flanagan, 28, has been pigeonholed as the no thrills workman of Britain’s current crop of world champions. If he beats Hooker, things should change. By becoming a two weight champion, he will instantly elevate himself to a very select group of British fighters. Not that he has spent too long day dreaming about the accomplishment.
“Not at all. When I started out boxing I’d have been happy to be a British champion but as your career goes on you want more and more. People say: ‘Terry Flanagan – two weight world champion’ but I don’t see myself as anything. I suppose I’ll look back when I’m older and my kids and grandkids are asking me about it and realise it’s a good achievement but at the moment I don’t think about it. People say to me that they can’t believe how normal and down to earth I am but I honestly don’t see myself as better than anybody else. I know lots of people say that but I genuinely mean it. I’m just one of the boys.”
You won’t see him posing for endless twitter or instagram posts but Flanagan enjoys sharing his success with those who have been loyal to him. His WBO world lightweight title belt seems to spend more time in various people’s car boots than inside a trophy cabinet and his fight memorabilia finds its way across East Manchester. One of his sponsors has an entire wing of the ‘Terry Flanagan Museum’ in his spare room.
“I’ve said to him not to ever sell any of it. I’ll probably want it back for my kids. When I go up to [Manchester] City and they give me ‘Flanagan’ shirts signed by all the players, I give them to my cousin. He buzzes about it and gets them framed and put on the wall. He’s got my world title shorts from the fight against Jose Zepeda. He’s got the British title shorts from the fight with Martin Gethin. I like to see things go to good people who will enjoy it.
“When I beat Diego Magdaleno there was a young kid in my little boys school class who was dying. Instead of keeping the shorts I let them auction them off and I gave the money to his mum and dad so they could go on a holiday. It’s good to do nice things. I like to do charitable work where I can see where it’s going. If I know it’s going to somebody who’s personal to me or if I see somebody and know they could do with something, I’ll give it them or auction it off.”
And where is the WBO title belt at this very moment? “It’s actually in the car boot,” Flanagan laughs. “Only because one of my old bosses was supposed to be bringing his lad for a picture though.”
There is one piece of memorabilia that Flanagan does want. After the fifth successful defence of his title against Petrov, he was promised a special WBO Diamond Ring. Flanagan still hasn’t received it. He isn’t the type to suddenly begin parading around dripping in jewellery but the ring is a recognition of achievement. In some ways, it is a mark of respect.
“I want the ring. It’s over a year overdue. I earned it and I deserve it. Five straight defences of a world title isn’t easy going and two of those were mandatory challenges and I won it against a good kid in Zepeda. He’s up at 10st now so maybe that fight might happen again down the line.”
Hooker is tall, dangerous, and hasn’t been shy about voicing his thoughts on Flanagan and the fight but if the Texan’s plan was to rile Flanagan and disrupt his preparation, it hasn’t worked.
“It’s good but you know me, I don’t give a f**k. If he’s going to come over and talk sh*t it’s not gonna bother me. I’m not one of them who gets involved in it all. I’ll do my talking on the night. When we get in there and the lights come down on us, the talking is done. He might even try and talk in the ring but when he’s missing and getting hit and he starts doubting himself, all that will slow down.”