By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
This Friday Sam Webb makes his second defense of the British Light Middleweight title, he won back in March last year in a ding dong battle with Anthony Small. His opponent will be Prince Arron, whose probably best known for winning the Prizefighter – Light Middleweights tournament last year.
I’ve known Sam for about a year now and for a good couple of months or so he has been promising to give me an interview. Every time we see each other, at the TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, Sam would say we’ll do that interview after I’ve finished training/sparring. Problem is that Sam would always train well past the time he expected and needed to rush off. He always apologised profusely and said we’d do it when he was next in the gym.
For the past few week, with his fight so close, I didn’t push the interview request so imagine my surprise when after his final training session Sam came over and said let’s do that interview now – so we did and here it is.
Rio – You have your second defense of your British Light Middleweight title this Friday, how have your preparations been going?
Sam – They’ve been going really well. I’ve been sparring a few big kids, Cruiserweights and Light Heavyweights and it’s been going very well.
I’ve just finished off with Bradley (Skeete), who’s a Welterweight. He’s nice and sharp and has the same size and the range as Arron so the type of sparring has been right as I think it’s only his size that may cause me a problem. Yeah, it’s gone really, really well.
Rio – You won the title by beating Anthony Small, who you fought in the amateurs a couple of times, how did it make you feel to beat him for the title.
Sam – Me and Anthony grew up and came through the amateurs together so there was always a bit of rivalry there between us both.
I beat him twice in the amateurs and that obviously stuck in his mind a bit. On that big day I think that may have stuck in his mind a little bit.
As a person I always thought Anthony was a nice person as an amateur but now as a professional and a grown up, he’s changed as a person so beating him for the title was like the icing on the cake as I can’t stand the kid to be honest.
Rio – Your last fight was against Martin Concepcion, you stopped him. Tell us about that fight.
Sam – Yep, my game plan was always to box him on the outside, obviously with him being a big puncher, so it was always a case of keeping calm and not mixing it up early. The game plan was to out box him, be sharp and don’t get involved.
In the early days of my career I could never listen to that, the red mist would have gone straight up and I would have been involved in a tear up in seconds, so it just goes to show how experience comes into play.
I just grinded him down and then clipped him in the end. It was a blinding night, faultless performance and I was over the moon with it.
Rio – We all know about your pro career, can you tell us about your amateur career?
Sam – I had about 78-80 bouts, only lost a handful to some really good kids. Boxed about 12-15 times for England, got to a few ABA finals, but never managed to win an ABA title, which was a real pain in the arse. You know, that’s the national title that you really want to win. Never won that but done really well as an England rep, went away a few times. I won a Gold, Silver and a Bronze at the three multi-nations I went to.
That was really great, but I never got an ABA national title so to win the British title as a pro is exactly what I wanted.
Rio – OK, let’s bring it up to date again, your fight against Prince Arron, how do you see that going – but don’t give away any of your game plan (-;
Sam – Yeah, well obviously I wont be saying too much about tactics, but in terms of the fight, it’s going to be a hard fight. I’ve not prepared as if I’m going in as a massive favourite, ‘cos I know how I felt going into the title fight before I won the title. I was sure I was going to be the Champion and I’m sure he has that.
But I said to everybody I’m British Champion now and I want to succeed in winning the belt outright. That’s my goal, it’s always been my dream to win the Lonsdale belt but to win it outright would just top it you know. That’s an unbelievable feeling, that’s what I want.
If I can go beyond my own expectations, which is British level, then that’s a real bonus, then I can look back when my career is over and think jesus I did all that, you know.
Rio – You touched briefly on where my next question lays, which is after you retained your title on Friday, what’s next for Sam Webb?
Sam – I’m mandatory for the European title already, so this is a dangerous fight already, you know by taking this fight. I could have just vacated the title and just sat round waiting for September or October and waited for the European title. I’d already been told by Frank (Maloney) that that could happen, but I don’t want to do that you know.
I’m willing to take the risk against Arron and box again as I feel that the experience, if the fight goes the distance or even however far the fight goes, I’ll gain more experience over that time and that any activity is better than just sparring for any fighter. I want to go for it, I’m confident in my ability and myself.
I did get offered the European title fight, but I would have had to go over to where Konecny is from. I phoned up the board and Robert Smith advised me not to take it as the chances are even if you knock him out, you wont get the decision. So that turned me against it to be honest.
From a fighters point I was itching for it and willing to take the chance, but Al (coach Al Smith) talked me out of it. He said it’s not like the amateurs, you’ve got to look at your career, get through Arron and then get through the next defense and you’ll still be in the same position but you’ve got the Lonsdale belt outright and you’ve got that fight two fights down the line anyway, so that’s the plan.
Rio – Which boxer influenced you most.
Sam – I used to look at all types of fighters, the likes of Nigel Benn. I remember watching Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan, I remember sitting down in my Mum’s front room watching that. The rivalry between Benn and Eubank was brilliant, a real buzz.
That was a peak for Britain, you had two British World Champions at the same weight and there was a genuine rivalry, it created a massive amount of interest. That was one of the things I enjoyed about watching boxing as a kid, you know.
Only yesterday me and Bradley (Skeete) were running and I said that there was something about the one on one in a ring.
I remember the first fight I watched, it was Mike Tyson and about six or eight weeks later he boxed again against Buster Douglas and he got beat and I remember crying as a kid because he got beaten. He was my favourite fighter back then and it was about then I started to get into boxing.
I didn’t actually box until I was about eleven, as soon as I walked into the gym I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I remember the first day after training me and my mate that I was training with at the time we sat down after and saying it’ll be nice being a proper boxer one day. Here we are fifteen or eighteen years down the line as a proper British Champion, it’s crazy.
In terms of boxing people I like aggressive fighters, as an amateur I set my style on the likes of Nigel Benn, Mike Tyson and them type of people. I’ve got something from all of them, If I see them do something in a fight the next day I would try it in the gym and things like that.
Now since I’ve turned pro, Al and me we’ve worked on different styles, making me more of a boxer than getting involved all the time. Al’s done wonders with me, the way I was I would never have been British Champion and that’s for sure.
Rio – Which of the current crop of domestic Light Middleweights do you rate as a true prospect.
Sam – Truthfully there’s one person and that’s Ryan Rhodes. He deserves to be exactly where he is. I take my hat of to Ryan, in terms of old fighters and new fighters, he’s the one I used to watch when I was coming through. I watched him when he won the Londsdale belt outright, and I was only a kid myself.
He was someone I always idolised and I had a picture of him on my wall. I had all his fight posters and pictures of him, one of them when he was a spice boy, he’ll probably hate me saying that. That was strange (Ed. Yeah that was strange!)
Ryan deserves to be where he is, I genuinely really mean that and send him my best wishes that he’ll go out and do the job on Alvarez.
On anybody else, Arron is one of the best kids in the division. Then again saying that does winning the Prizefighter justify boxing for a British title, you know. My last five fights have all been against top ten fighters and I’ve had to beat all top ten fighters to be where I am. Arron won a Prizefighter, you know Bradley Pryce is all shot to bits, Brett Flournoy is not that experienced as a pro and as everyone knows George Hillyard don’t live the life. Prizefighter was made for him, being disrespectful towards him or not I don’t care what he thinks, that’s my opinion and we’ll see how good he is on Friday.
I’m the best in the division bar Ryan Rhodes, there’s no one else I’d have sleepless nights over.
Rio – What fight, amateur or pro, holds the fondest memories for you.
Sam – For me, one of my best amateur fights, in terms of excitement was against Daniel Herdman we had a brilliant fight at the Goresbrook Leisure Centre in the London ABA finals. We knew Dan was a good kid, he’d just come back from winning the junior Olympics, silver medal I think he got. We knew him from Repton, we knew it was going to be a tough fight to get through. Me and him were toe to toe for four rounds. It’s probably one of the best amateur fights anyone has ever seen, it was an absolute blinder (Ed. TKO supremo Johnny Eames said the same thing to me).
In terms of professional fights, I don’t think I’ve been in too many humdingers, I’ve had a few silly little scraps that got a little bit heated and that, but nothing majorly exciting.
In terms of other professionals I watched a billion fights you know, I suppose I’d go back to Benn-McClellan or Barrera-Morales. I suppose Jamie Moore-Matthew Macklin or Jamie Moore-Ryan Rhodes are the two that particularly stick in my mind because they were for the British and European Middleweight titles, my weight division so them two fights are probably the best two.
Rio – Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today and my final question is, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans.
Sam – Yeah, thanks for watching us box and coming and supporting us. If you want an exciting fight then it’s a good fight to watch this Friday, for sure.
Sam Webb versus Prince Arron for the British Light Middleweight title will be on the Frank Maloney promoted event at the Medway Park leisure Centre in Gillingham, Kent on Friday 13th May 2011 and will be shown live and exclusive on Sky Sports.