Buatsi Undercard: Udofia vs. Harding, Fiaz vs. Baker, n October 4, Live on Sky
Aqib Fiaz is determined to put his Matchroom Fight Camp disappointment behind him by beating Birmingham’s Kane Baker when they finally meet on the Joshua Buatsi vs. Marko Calic undercard on Sunday October 4, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in US.
The Oldham prospect (5-0) was originally scheduled to face former Midlands Area Champion Baker on the Terri Harper vs. Natasha Jonas World Title undercard on Friday August 7, but was forced to withdraw on the eve of the fight after falling ill, leaving Baker bitterly disappointed.
In an emotional interview in the hotel ‘bubble’, Baker, who was looking to inflict a first career defeat on 21-year-old Fiaz, accused his opponent of feigning illness to get out of their eight round showdown, but the Jamie Moore-trained talent insists his illness was genuine.
“I woke up on the morning of the weigh-in and I was feeling a bit sick and a bit light-headed,” said Fiaz. “Every fighter will say ‘yeah you do feel like that on the morning of a weigh-in’. I thought it was the weight. Jamie told me that I wasn’t right, and I told him I was fine, and to just give me until after the weigh-in. I weighed-in, rehydrated and ate again, but I couldn’t get myself right.
“I don’t know what it was, I was feeling sick and light-headed. Jamie could see it, there was no hiding it. I tried my best, but I’m glad that my team made the decision that they did to protect my health. Now we’ve got another chance to get the fight on and it’s bigger and better this time. Like everyone else, Steve Wood was messaging me to see if I was alright. My first reply to him while I was sitting in A and E was ‘get the fight on again’.
“Even when I was sat in the room with the doctor, I was asking him if I could fight on the next Fight Camp event the following week. There was all sorts going through my mind in hospital, I was scared. I’m only young, I thought it would be devastating for my career this early on. If we had chose to fight it could have been. I’m glad we made the decision that we did. I’ve got to thank Jamie and Nigel for making that call.”
Fiaz inked promotional terms with Eddie Hearn following a shutout points win over Dean Jones on the Scott Quigg vs. Jono Carroll undercard in Manchester earlier this year, and will now have a second chance to impress his new promoter when he clashes with Baker in what has turned into a bitter grudge match.
“It was impossible not to watch the fallout,” added Fiaz. “It is what it is. I’m a young man, 21-years-old and social media is a big part of our lives, not just ours but everyone’s. It was impossible to stay off it. I’ve seen everything and yeah, he was talking a lot but talk is cheap. On the night, we’ll see. He’s emotionally involved and when you’re emotionally involved you make mistakes, and when he makes them mistakes I’ll make him pay.
“At the end of the day all of the build-up and everything can be big, he can go on like he’s going to do this and do that, but the fight is still the same. He’s still the same man with the two hands that he had before. I’m still the same man too. He’s got to get past my two hands and I don’t think he will. He can talk all he wants, like I said, talk is cheap. Fighters win fights, not talking. Not weight, not tattoos, not acting big in front of a camera.
“Looking back, the ‘bubble’ experience was strange. When I was bumping into Kane around the hotel, he was fine, but when I watched his interviews back, he was acting the big man in front of the camera. When I was in there I quite enjoyed the peace and quiet. I was able to concentrate on the job at hand.
“When the fight was first mentioned we had 5 weeks’ notice. Now it has turned in to a ten- or eleven-week camp. It’s perfect for both of us really. I’ve seen him crying, bitching and complaining, saying I had more notice than him – which I didn’t. We’ve had the same time as him to prepare. Now we’ve had a proper training camp. On the night, he’ll have no excuses when I beat him.”
BAKER TO FIAZ: PLEASE TURN UP!
Kane Baker has dispelled rumours that he is emotionally attached to Aqib Fiaz as the Super-Featherweight rivals prepare to collide in a spicy grudge match on the Joshua Buatsi vs. Marko Calic undercard on Sunday October 4, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.
Baker (13-6) was left bitterly disappointed after his golden opportunity on the big stage was ripped away from him at the last moment when Matchroom new boy Fiaz was pulled from their eight-round contest on the eve of the fight, with the 21-year-old’s team deeming him unfit to box.
“It was an emotional week for me really,” said Baker. “My older brothers were on the phone to me while I was in the bubble. I had to say my goodbyes to their dad before he had his life support machine turned off which was weird, hard and very upsetting for me. He was looking forward to watching my fight.
“There’s been a lot going around about me being emotional and emotionally attached to Fiaz. I was more emotionally attached to fighting in Eddie’s garden. I also had emotions in my personal life. I had a little rant after the fight was pulled and I don’t know how that came across because I was a bit emotional.
“I thought to myself, ‘shit, I hope I haven’t let myself down by being a bit emotional, upset and angry’. I had a bit of a rant at him which was all just in the heat of the moment. When Jamie Moore said I was emotionally attached to the Aqib Fiaz fight, he was wrong, it was 100% was nothing to do with Fiaz.
“Fiaz has got the chance to come again, but I’ll tell you now, if I wasn’t well and I pulled out of the fight, I wouldn’t be sat here today getting my chance again. That’s a fact. I’ve had a lot of people message me, there’s more support for me out there now after what happened.
“I’ve heard that he did a lot of that kind of thing in the amateurs, missing weight. He had things his own way in the amateurs and if he wasn’t ready to fight then the fights got pulled. He’s known for it. This is what I’ve been told. I know in my heart of hearts what I believe.”
Former Midlands Area Lightweight Champion Baker, trained by Paul Mann at the BCB Gym, is even more fired up following his Fight Camp heartache, and the 30-year-old is promising to inflict a first career defeat on Oldham prospect Fiaz.
“I’m absolutely buzzing it’s back on. Matchroom and Eddie Hearn stuck to their word. It was a hard wait waiting for the new date but they stuck to their word and I’m back out again. I’m in the same position, but there’s much more interest in the fight this time.
“I’m ready to go straight away. We know the tactics and the plan. It could all go out of the window, and I could just go back to all I know which is having a good tear up! Either way, this fight is going to get 110% of me.
“I’m going to leave everything in that ring. I know the job at hand. I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I know what I’ve got to do. I know my strengths, and I’m going to show them on Sunday. That should be enough. Aqib, please turn up mate!”
UDOFIA: ALL OF THE PRESSURE IS ON HARDING JR
English Champion vows to show levels against ‘Pester Superstar’
Linus Udofia insists that all of the pressure is on John Harding Jr ahead of their ten round battle for the English Middleweight crown on the Buatsi vs. Calic undercard this Sunday October 4, shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.
Luton’s Udofia (15-0, 7 KOs) won the English Title, his first major belt, with a majority decision against Tyler Denny at York Hall in November last year, and the 27-year-old is in a supremely confident mood ahead of what will be his first defence against Brixton’s Harding Jr.
Undefeated in 15 fights, the Steve Goodwin-managed talent, trained by Terry Steward at the J.E.T Boxing and Fitness Centre in Epping, believes his class will show against the Dillian Whyte-backed 36-year-old, who fell short in an attempt for the English Title against Jack Cullen back in August 2019.
“This is a fight where I get to showcase how good I am and why I’m a champion at this weight,” said Udofia. “I’ll show what level I’m at and then move on to bigger and better things. Right now, I’ve got to defend this Title first, and this is a massive opportunity for me. You can’t get a bigger platform than this and I’m going to grab it with both hands.
“I don’t feel any pressure. I’ve won this belt, I’ve got to defend it, and I’ve got to show everyone why I won this belt. John competed for the belt before and he wasn’t successful. All of the pressure is on him to come and get it the second time. I’m all good, I’m the champion, and I’ve got to show everyone why I’m the champion.
“I understand that everyone has got to hype themselves up in a certain way. It’s always good to see ‘Pester Superstar’ pop up and say something crazy. I look at it, have a laugh with my mates and get back to focusing on me. It’s good to see that he’s watching me all of the time.
“We had a couple of spars; he was with Leon McKenzie and I don’t really even remember what happened. He can have 2-0 in sparring if he wants, I’ll take the win in the actual fight. He can have sparring, I don’t care. By beating him I just want to show that he’s not on the same level as me. I’m a champion and he isn’t. I want to show that and move on from there.”
HARDING JR: HE AIN’T GOT HEART LIKE ME!
John Harding Jr is aiming to win the English Middleweight Title at the second time of asking when he clashes with Luton’s undefeated Linus Udofia in the opening bout of tomorrow night’s show at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.
‘Pester Superstar’ (8-1-1, 2 KOs) turned his life around after being released from prison for a third time in 2015 – and he says his journey is only just beginning with Heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte in his corner.
The Brixton fighter fell short in his first attempt at winning the English Title in August 2019 when he was stopped in eight rounds by Little Lever’s Jack Cullen at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool after taking the fight at short notice.
Harding Jr has been training alongside his manager Whyte in Portugal as ‘The Body Snatcher’ prepares for his huge rematch with Alexander Povetkin on Saturday November 21, and with a longer camp behind him, the 36-year-old is predicting he will become the first man to defeat Udofia.
“My heart separates us,” said Harding Jr. “He ain’t got heart like me. He ain’t fearsome like me. He hasn’t been through what I’ve been through. He might have more experience than me in the ring, but there’s things that have happened outside of the ring that have given me so much experience.
“My heart is too big. I’m not going to back down. I’m a real champion. I know there’s going to be an opportunity for me to land, and when I do land cleanly, he’ll go down. I visualise myself stopping him and the ref waving it off.
“I go into this fight with no fear in me, I know what I have to do to win and I will. I am going to stop him, maximum violence! Linus Udofia is tailor-made for me. He has a bag of tricks but nothing that concerns me, he has cherry-picked his opponents on his way to winning the title which is also why he is still unbeaten. This time he has picked the wrong opponent.
“With Linus we know he’s going to come and box. He’s going to be tight on the back foot, move and do his little fake Lomachenko thing. I know what to expect from him, but he doesn’t know what to expect from me. I’m expecting war because I’m bringing the war. Hopefully he expects that because I’m going to leave it all in the ring. This is going to be fight of the night.”
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