By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
With seriously big names, such as former World Champs Junior Witter and Colin Lynes and former British Champion Kevin McIntyre, grabbing all the headlines in the build up to the highly anticipated Matchroom Sports promoted Prizefighter – Welterweights II, which takes place at York Hall on Tuesday 7th June, I decided to buck the trend a bit, well my last interview was with Colin Lynes, and make a concerted effort to catch up with some of the lesser well known names taking part.
As luck would have it earlier this week I was at the TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town photographing Big John McDermott sparring with Ali Adams. Across the ring I spotted the familiar figure of John Wayne Hibbert chatting with Kevin Mitchell.
For those that don’t know him, yet, John has a crowd pleasing style and brings a large posse of highly vocal supporters with him. He lives up to his “John Wayne” moniker by donning a stetson into the ring.
The first time I see John in action was back in April last year, when he fought Matt Scriven, at the excellent Steve Goodwin promoted ‘Night of Rising Stars’ event. John impressed me with his performance, and his vociferous following who never let up their deafening support for their hero throughout.
That was John’s sixth bout and I have to be honest I was quite disappointed not to have seen any of his earlier fights and had made a mental note marking him down as one to watch.
I next got to see him in action the following December, at the superb Judgement Day event, where again he put on another excellent performance – as my fight report attests
“The assembled crowd at York Hall were on their feet and in full voice the moment they see the stetson wearing John Wayne Hibbert appear and didn’t abate throughout their heroes six round encounter with William Warburton.
Hibbert ensured that by putting on one of his trademark attacking displays. About the only time the decibel levels dropped was after Hibbert received a cut above the left eye in third round. Hibbert seemed unfazed by the cut as he kept on pressuring Warburton to secure a tidy 59-55 points victory.”
These may have been the only times I personally see John in action, but they are far from his only successes.
John was a successful amateur winning National titles at both schoolboy and Senior level, including representing England in international competitions.
John made his debut on Miranda Carter’s Left Jab promotions 2009 Father’s Day show, where he stopped Damien Jeffries in the first round.
Three months later John was back in action, this time his victim was Andrew Patterson, who he stopped in the second round.
Less than a month later John returned to York Hall, where he convincingly out pointed Kevin McCauley.
Next up just two months later was another second round stoppage victory, this time over Bheki Moyo.
It wasn’t until March 2010 that his legion of fans got to see him in action again, against Rick Boulter. As in three of his previous four outings this one also didn’t get to go the distance, as Boulter’s manager, Carl Greaves, pulled him out at the end of the second to save him further punishment, or worse being knocked out.
Which nicely brings us back to the fights I see him in, so without further ado here is John Wayne Hibbert talking about Prizefighter and his possible opponents on June 7th.
Rio – Thank you for talking with me today – first of all please tell me your thoughts on Prizefighter.
John – I think it’s a great idea for prospects and everyone that’s in it. It’s a great idea.
Rio – What do you think your chances are of winning Prizefighter?
John – I wouldn’t be in it it I didn’t think I could win it, I believe I can do well and nick it.
Rio – Now to the other fighters in the tournament – What are your thoughts on Junior Witter?
John – Can’t knock him can you. He’s been a World Champion, I’ve got all respect for him. He’s getting on a bit now, so I’m still young so I don’t see any problems there really.
Rio – OK, We’ll move on to Colin Lynes
John – Damn good fighter, another ex-World Champion. I’m not going to disrespect him. He’s got a brilliant jab. Take away his jab though, I reckon I can get underneath it and take it away and do the job though.
Rio – Next up is Kevin McIntyre
John – Don’t know too much about Kevin McIntyre so I’ll have to watch up on him.
Rio – OK, your thoughts on Yassine El Maachi
John – Dangerous fighter, very elusive. You’ve got to get close to him, take all his grin away. Yeah I reckon I can beat him.
Rio – Next is Peter McDonagh
John – Don’t know too much about him either. Going to have to look up on him, I aint seen too much of him.
Rio – Bobby Gladman’s next on the list.
John – Aint seen too much of him either, I know he’s quite a good upright boxer. I aint too fussed.
Rio – Last but not least Nathan Graham
John – I don’t know nothing about Nathan Graham. All I’ve seen is his record, I’ll have to watch him.
Rio – How do you think being on Prizefighter will affect your career?
John – When I go and win it I’ll go straight up the rankings, so it’ll be all good for me when I win it.
Obviously if I get a title shot because of it that’ll be brilliant, there’s a lot of good fighters at that weight. But I’m going to take this one step at a time and concentrate on Prizefighter, I’m not thinking about anything else yet. Just concentrating on that Prizefighter.
Rio – Talking about concentrating on Prizefighter, who have you been sparring to prepare for June 7th?
John – I’ve been sparring former Prizefighter champion Michael Lomax, Kris Agyia-Dua. I’ve been sparring all different people because I’ll be fighting all different people in Prizefighter. I’ve been sparring amateurs, all different people really.
Rio – Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today and good luck on June 7th.
John – No problem, thanks.
Prizefighter – Welterweights II, featuring John Wayne Hibbert, Colin Lynes, Junior Witter, Yassine El Maachi, Kevin McIntyre, Nathan Graham, Peter McDonagh and Bobby Gladman, takes place at York Hall, Bethnal Green in London on Tuesday 7th June 2011.
Tickets, priced £35 (Unreserved), £60 (Ringside), and £100 (VIP) are available now at www.tkoboxoffice.com or in person at the TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA or call 07960 850645