By Gianluca Rio Di Caro (Photos and Interview)
Back in May 2011 I interviewed former IBO Light Welterweight World Champion Colin Lynes, just as he was preparing to take part in the excellent Matchroom Sport promoted Prizefighter series. It was a real pleasure, as here was a man who during his illustrious career had done it all, won British, European and World honours, yet he seemed to genuinely enjoy discussing all aspects of the sport and his career.
Unfortunately Colin didn’t win Prizefighter, having lost to eventual competition winner Yassine El Maachi in the semifinal, by a highly dubious points decision.
Some five months later Colin was back in action, this time challenging Lee ‘Lights Out’ Purdy for his British Welterweight title. After twelve scintillating rounds Colin once again strapped the coveted Lonsdale belt around his waist.
I have to be honest and say other than republishing my fight report in it’s entirety I couldn’t possibly get across just how good that fight was, I mean it truly was ‘Fight of the Year’ material – it was a seriously great fight. OK, so you get the gist I really rated the fight, anyway back to business.
I did intend to catch up with Colin after the victory over Purdy, but somehow never quite got round to it. So with the news that this Saturday, almost a year to the day after I last interviewed him, Colin will defend the title for the first time, against former WBC World Light Welterweight World Champion Junior Witter, I felt now would be a rather good time to catch up with him again.
Rio – So Colin, you are defending your British title for the first time, against Junior Witter, and it’s a mandatory, not the usual voluntary, why is that?
Colin – Yeah, Junior Witter is the mandatory and I’m looking forward to it really.
They’re all good fighters in the top ten so, people say would you like to pick this one or pick that one, but I’m happy with whoever it is and Witter will come and make a good fight of it.
It’s a chance to get one back for me, as he beat me two years ago on a close points decision.
I’m a better fighter now, he may have improved and be a better fighter himself, so that makes me look forward to it even more and it’ll be fireworks on the night, a good defense for myself and the chance to get one back.
Rio – By rights you should have been facing Junior earlier than this, in the final of Prizefighter back last June, what are your thoughts on the rather contentious decision that sent Yassine El Maachi to the final and not yourself?
Colin – Yeah, I wont go too much on that, everyone knows what happened and that. It just didn’t happen on the night so I got over that and won the British title and I’m faced with Witter again who I should have faced in the final that night and people have got that final now.
Rio – Do you think that your performance in Prizefighter helped to get you the British Title fight?
Colin – Yes and No. I mean El Maachi won Prizefighter and I think if he had been a British national at the time he would have rightly got the shot, except he wasn’t.
Witter had been a bit out of sorts that night, he’d openly admit that and of course everyone thought I should have gone on and been in the final.
I fought Purdy at short notice, as no one else could have stepped up in the time given for the fight, so I went for it and came off the winner.
Rio – I didn’t realise it was a short notice call, mind you your trainers, Jimmy and Mark Tibbs, both say you are the consummate professional and are always ready, always fit.
Colin – That’s very true, by the same token you have to have a trainer with you that knows, because you are always in the gym ticking over, that it’s a special care that you don’t overstep the mark when you are in the gym ticking over and Jimmy and Mark are superb, they’re the men for that.
Rio – Who have you been sparring for Junior, as his style is not the easiest to replicate. I can only think of a few people with a similar style at this weight.
Colin – There’s not that many, but they are out there and thankful enough we know of them.
I’ve been doing enough sparring with some switch hitters, but we’ve also been doing plenty of sparring with our normal partners to get the rounds done.
Now we’ve bought some tricky customers in and that’s been going well and we’ve still got a little time to go with those tricky opponents.
It’s good that you don’t know them, you know of them and they know of you but they’re not out of the TRAD TKO Gym and they’re not from the same area and it’s good because they come with that bit of spite and it’s all in good stead for the fight.
Rio – I know you don’t look past any fight, BUT you win, you defend your title, will you stay on the domestic scene or will you move back to the International scene, say a shot at the European title.
Colin – I’ll never vacate a championship until I have the next fight inked in, so until that time I’ll never just vacate as I know how hard it is to work your way back, not just winning fights to earn your way back but being given the chance.
Once a set of doors shut on you, people can make it very hard, they haven’t got to take you on and then you’re on the ‘who needs him’ list because of how fit you are, so I will never vacate a Championship unless I have another title fight inked in on the contract.
Saying that of course I want to get into the European mix, you’ve got an Italian champion, who’s defending against another Italian, no matter what it stays in an Italian camp and it’s very hard to prise Italian’s out of their camp.
We all know what happened last time I went over there, so I wouldn’t be too quick to be invited over there and I don’t think I would accept an invitation to go over there to be honest, with what goes on there, so it could be a long waiting game for that.
Having said that, with Kell Brook beating Matthew Hatton I go into my fight knowing that doors have been opened, which motivates me even more.
It’s a waiting game but I am looking very much beyond British level.
Rio – I know we touched on it earlier but time to get back to ‘Lights Out’ – What a performance, I think it was clear Fight of The Year, please tell the readers your thoughts on the fight.
Colin – Yeah, it was a good performance, something I knew I was well capable of, and Jimmy and Mark trusted me, had faith in me.
It surprised some people, because as I said, rightfully so people were asking questions, has he still got it, is he over the hill, seen him before he goes so many rounds then…
I’ve always said, hand on heart, that was down to my body not coping with making the weight.
I made the weight correctly, I didn’t struggle or kill myself or gone without food or water but my body just wasn’t having it any more at the lower weight. It took perhaps one fight too many at that Light Welter level for me to decide and talk to Jimmy and Mark and step up a weight so onwards and upwards.
It may surprise people but I have put that performance behind me now, because I’ve got a new job, a new opponent, new style and it’s a different fight and I’m not dwelling on what I did to Purdy, so Witter is a new challenge and I’m going to be up for it.
Rio – You’ve already been World Champion – Is that where your looking towards again?
Colin – Yeah, I mean I don’t get carried away and with the names you’ve got in my division at the moment, I would be silly and a bit foolish to say I want to fight Mayweather or I want this one, so I’ve got to take it step by step because it’s a rebuilding campaign.
I’ve stepped up a weight and I’m doing those things, so it’s a building process but I want to get there, I believe I can get there, but I’m not one of those to shout out and call people out. I feel I have got to prove my right to be in that mix.
What is quite attractive is Kell Brook beat Matthew Hatton, he’s in the same camp, that should earn Kell Brook a World title shot and my being in the same camp and when he’s due a voluntary I think that’s a fight that can be made.
I know Kell’s flying high at the moment, he’s a step above, but he was at my last fight commentating so I had a bit of joking like banter with him afterwards, I said ‘I know you’re a step above but I’m pushing to get there and I’m going to catch you up, I’ll get there you know and then the fight’s on after.
Rio – You touched on it earlier, you were struggling at Light Welter, how are you now finding life as a Welterweight?
Colin – I’m not going to be the biggest Welter, I said that when I first moved up but it’s not about being the biggest at the weight, it’s about being right.
It’s great being at Welterweight, I’m not worrying about food, in fact I can take on more carbs, more protein and I’m really enjoying training.
The weights not an issue, I’m really enjoying training, I’m strong as an Ox and as I said it’s a fine line and the Tibbs’ are making sure I don’t overstep the line.
Rio – Thank you so much, I would say give us a prediction but I know you don’t give predictions, so may I just take this chance to wish you all the success on the twelfth.
Colin – You’re right and thank you.
Colin Lynes defends his British Welterweight title against Junior Witter at the Hennessy Sports, in association with Alma Ingle, promoted ‘Pride of Yorkshire’ event, which will e headlined by the WBC International Super Bantamweight clash between Kid Galahad and Josh Wale, at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre, Sheffield on Saturday, 12th May 2012. The event will also be broadcast live on Channel 5