By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
There’s a real buzz around the London Boxing scene at the moment thanks to the plethora of new young promoters strutting their stuff.
Whilst the young guns have been busy feeding the City’s hungry boxing fans, the big five, Frank Warren, Barry and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport, Ricky Hatton, Frank Maloney and Mick Hennessy on the other hand have seemingly ignored the Capital, instead deciding to stage their big shows in Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester and the like, or in Mick’s case across the pond.
I know, DeGale-Groves was held at the O2, Murray-El Ouazghari took place at York Hall, Matchroom presented Barker-Spada at Olympia as well as regularly hold their exciting Prizefighter series in the Capital and of course the Hennessy Sports promoted Chisora-Fury will be at Wembley on the 23rd July, but honestly is that enough boxing action, in the seven months of this year so far, for the nine million souls that populate the Capital city?
No it’s not, but luckily for us that live in the metropolis, and in need of a regular fix of pugilistic action, this fabulous new breed of promoters have been serving up a heady cocktail that more than satisfies the neediest boxing junkie – like me.
We’ve had former World Champion Graham Earl put on some stonkingly great shows earlier this year, whilst the lovely Miranda Carter seems intent to make Sunday’s her own with the Left Jab series of excellent Sunday afternoon thrillers.
We’ve even got a Father and Daughter, Steve and Olivia Goodwin, competing against each other to see who can draw the biggest crowd to their awesome thirteen and fourteen bout mega shows.
Then we have the subject of this interview, MR BOXING himself, Spencer Fearon and his wicked Hard Knocks Boxing events. If you’ve been to a Hard Knocks show I don’t need to tell you they are the bee’s knees, they are loud, they are hot and sweaty, they are electric and best of all they are crammed with genuine 50/50 fights – awesome!
Spencer is a larger than life type of character, he’s a sort of suave Don King, without the silly hair and flags, oh hang on I seem to remember him waving flags at a show recently, OK Don King without the the silly hair, he’s loud, he’s brash and he’s always immaculately turned out, in couture outfits that must have cost almost as much as his dazzling shows, but amazingly very approachable, again if you’ve been to one of his shows you’ll know what I mean.
Spencer started out as a boxer, fought under the ring name ‘The Spirit’ and chalked up a respectable 11-6 record during his six year career, during which he fought for the Southern Area title three times.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that he was a crowd pleaser that went into each fight with a belief and full intention of giving his all for the full duration. If you see his battles with Dave Walker or Gilbert Eastman – in fact any of his fights – you’ll know what I mean.
On retiring from the ring Spencer took up coaching and boy when he did it was like a duck to water and it wasn’t long before some of the best known names in the sport turned to him to get their careers firmly on track. We’re talking names like Anthony Small and Danny Williams here, serious stuff.
No surprise really that he would soon take the ultimate step and start promoting, and when he did he made the statement that his will be the best shows and would have genuine 50/50 match-ups. Most people thought it was all hot air, but true to his word that’s just what he delivered.
I covered two of Spencer’s shows this year and I can attest that they were everything promised and much, much more.
His last event ‘Summer Smash’ not only blew me away but every other scribe that covered the event, including Boxing News’ Simon Euan-Smith!!! This so called small hall event was rammed to the rafters, and the fights – well every single one was a cracker – but the headline Choi versus Jackson Asiku was the best fight seen in this country this millennium, let alone this year.
Somehow Spencer had managed to macth a two time (undefeated) World Champion, Choi, against former IBO champ Jackson Asiku, who had only just lost his World crown in his previous bout. Neither gave or expected any quarter. It was ten rounds of nonstop action. It was just…magnificent, it was pugilistic heaven.
Sorry, I’m recalling the fight in my head, now I’ve been to some of the biggest fights on both sides of the Atlantic and I can honestly say that Choi-Asiku really was one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to be ringside at. It equals my all time favourite Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham versus Tomasz Adamek at the Prudential Centre in Newark New Jersey in December 2008 (Look it up, it was a real barnstormer).
OK, back to the subject in hand, Spencer Fearon, anyway I caught up with Spencer on the very day he heard the news that his next show – nah, his next EVENT – will be broadcast live on TV, rightly so in my view, and this is what the man himself had to say.
Rio – Congratulations you’ve really made an impact with your exceptional shows, especially the last one, Summer Smash, which was probably the best British boxing event this year. What do you think is the major difference between your shows and those by other promoters, including the big five?
Spencer – Look I don’t just do the best shows in England, I do the best shows in the whole world. I mean I do the best shows in the whole world and I want people to know this.
It’s only going to get bigger, it’s only going to get better and with my energy, listen, I endear myself to the boxing fan.
Look, when I put a question on my facebook I’ll get ninety thousand comments and I’ll read everyone of those ninety thousand comments. I wont read eighty nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine, I’ll read every single comment to hear what the boxing fan wants.
I ask loads of different questions, religion, race, gender, sexual preference, everything, because when people come into my shows. How many young people do you see in my shows, loads and loads of young kids.
Why?, because I’m up and down the country speaking to the young kids on how to better themselves and the simple motto is ‘If I can, you can’ I know where I’ve come from to what I am doing now and I’ve just started.
I know when I first started in this game loads of people said ‘oh yeah see what Spencer does, he’ll be skint in a year, yeah he’ll be finished’. It’s amazing four years down and I’m still getting stronger.
You must understand when you’re getting acclaim from guys like Steve Bunce, Johnny Nelson from Sky TV, yeah he’s my friend as well, he come to the show and said ‘I Can’t believe it’, he’s looking around and saying ‘I cannot believe it”.
Clifton Mitchell is doing his thing with his Nation group, trust me you’re doing your thing, Clifton Mitchell I allow you to copy my clappers and put your logo on there, but remember that Hard Knocks did it first.
Look how I energise the crowd, look at the applause Charlie Magri got, Charlie Magri is my old trainer, he comes to the shows and says ‘Spencer it was tear jerking’ Charlie Magri saying to me he wants to cry.
I give the best shows in the whole world because I’m the only one out there that endears the fight fans, just look at my facebook, my facebook is like a phone, it gets more comments than any phone. I can cover four or five subjects and get more comments than people get on boxing websites.
Why? Because I’m personable, Why? Because I speak my mind, I’m human I can make mistakes, I can say certain things and have to come out and apologise to certain people because I’m frigging human.
Understand this I’ve not got a malicious bone in my body, I’m the only one going out and uniting the people of our great country. I’m uniting it, people say this all the time.
Our flag, which is based on the St George’s cross, which is based on the Scottish flag, has the red, white and blue in it. Do you understand the red means the blood that flows through every human being on the face of the planet, therefore our flag is telling me just one thing, that we must embrace everyone on the planet and that’s what I’m doing. People are coming to the shows and embracing it.
Rio – Your last show had York Hall absolutely rammed to the rafters. I’ve never seen the place so packed. The atmosphere was electric, it was a true occasion. How do you do it?
Spencer – It’s quite easy, because if you have a guy that was thirsty, dying for water and you give him a glass that is dirty and tell him to drink from it because he’s thirsty, he will.
Now I’m feeding thirsty people, I’m nourishing them with water, you can taste this water and it tastes sweet, that’s because they have been drinking shit for god knows how long and then all of a sudden they’re drinking something proper.
What I am doing is making people recognise the only way you can really recognise a real boxing event is to come to our shows. The only way you will really recognise that Spencer is the truth here, he’s giving us fluid, he’s giving us what we want.
Down at the Real Fight Club, where Hard Knocks has it’s office, I have corporate guys in on a daily basis, I’m around the white collar society and the white collar society are coming to my shows.
You know what, it’s beautiful, I love this place. People know I’m accessible, I’ll talk to anyone, that’s because, I’m a nice guy anyway but, I like to hear peoples opinions. So when people come in and give their opinions on how good my shows are and ask how can you top that.
I’ve already topped it by giving people what they want to see. All my fights are 50/50 because I know how to match make so when fighters go on my show they have to fight.
I say to any fighter if you want to go on my show make sure you can fight and if you ‘re good and put on a good show but lose I’ll still have you back.
Rio – Your shows are seriously well matched, genuine 50/50 fights. How come you are able to get these prospects to fight each other, and not take an easier opponent, in the first place and then get them so fired up that each fight is an all out war?
Spencer – It’s quite simple, you want a guy that can fight, yeah, I want to endear fighters so I say if you can fight, you fight him. So when they say they can’t fight him, now I’m a really good shit stirrer I’m one of the really great ones, so I say you can’t beat him, are you seriously saying you can’t beat this guy here.
Then I’d go to the guy that will be in the opponent corner and say if you beat this guy I’ll pay you more money. They say really and I say I know what I’m paying you, if you beat this guy I’ll give you twenty percent more money. So they say to me what, I’m coming already and you’re giving me more incentive to go. So they end up fighting their heart out and that’s what happens.
That’s it I’ll pay you X amount of money if you fight harder and if you fight harder and give people a good show it’ll bring in a big crowd and it’ll be incredible and that’s what I do.
Rio – OK, now I’d like to talk about one of the fights, on your last show, in particular. Choi against Jackson Asiku, which was the fight of the year so far, not just my opinion but by unanimous decision of all the boxing writers that were present and it will be a contender for that honour at the end of the year. What were your thoughts of that fight?
Spencer – Look if I was to die tomorrow I’d be happy knowing that I promoted a fight of that magnitude.
People talk about my fight with Dave Walker, but we didn’t touch nothing with that fight as you had ten rounds of a boxer versus a slugger. The slugger becoming the boxer and the boxer becoming a slugger and heart and everything.
The most beautiful thing for me was here you had the archetypal East End pugilistic fan sat there cheering on a Mongolian or cheering on a Ugandan. This is the greatest country in the world and I done that and I’ll do it again.
I’ve spoke to certain guys who match-make for Sky TV and I said can you put Choi on the show and they said no, no, no Spence, were not interested in showing foreign fighters. So what they are trying to tell me is that if Manny Pacquiao came to Oldham instead of going to Vegas would he have ended up like Choi and not got the opportunity. That’s what they are saying to me.
People say yes Spence you’re a good trainer when everything is working for you like it is with Choi, But I remember what that lot were saying when I was working with Anthony Smalls and he wasn’t doing too good, I remember what they said about me when Danny Williams lost.
I remember all of that but I have a great team around me with Ciaran Baynes. I have Steve Bunce endorsing me publicly and the Boxing News, Tris Dixon and all these guys, John Dennen they put me at number three, they should have put me at number one, but why, ‘cos two shows this year, Shamrock Showdown, Nathan Graham and Adil Anwar best fight of the year, and everyone says how can you surpass that show, then I went and done it again and you know what I’ll do it again on the next show.
The next show will be on TV, I aint going to get into it but Rio you know what the little hush is, it’s going to be on TV and I thank everyone of you guys that call my name, even if you call my name badly, call my name. The reason why, while you are sleeping I’m working out plans. While people are going out socialising I’m in my house, I’m on my computer studying this game. I study this game so much I eat, sleep and live this game and everything else has been reciprocated back to me.
Rio – OK, you covered two things I want to ask about, the first is Choi. What are your plans for him?
Spencer – Choi is going to get another World title fight this year. We are in talks with the Mongolian Embassy right now and we’re going to sort something out for him. Choi is going to fight for one of the three major belts, just fighting for it is something special even if he doesn’t win them, but he is going to win them because there is something inside that Mongolian that is different from any other human being I have been around.
I don’t know where he gets it from, he’s never been trained, everyone knows I sit down with him and watch fights all the time, we watch Roberto Duran constantly. We sit down and study these fights.
Choi is a beautiful person, when Danny Williams’ father, Augustus, was ill Choi was training for Prizefighter. Every morning I would take Augustus breakfast at St Thomas’s Hospital and Choi would come with me. He would just sit down and talk with us.
Choi is such a beautiful person. The ironic thing is Danny Williams mother, and his niece and mother in law came to the show and sat ringside with my family and they were cheering on Choi and they didn’t even know that Choi knew her husband and that was really, really touching to me.
When she did find out she asked me to thank Choi, but he had already gone back to Mongolia but when he’s back in a few months for his nex fight, which will be in September, we’ll see what we can do. That was really beautiful and very, very touching.
See Hard Knocks is a real boxing family, there’s no class system or race system, no nothing the system is boxing, you know what I mean, that’s why I love boxing so much.
Rio – Another one of your fighters I want to ask you about is Darren Hamilton. After that blatant head-butt which cost him the title what are your plans for him?
Spencer – Firstly I have to say that he done a stupid thing, which he’s apologised for. We shall make him and Dave Ryan again. Him and Dave Ryan down in London, because I like the energy his supporters bring down from Derby.
Darren needs to prove himself, Clinton Mitchell is hell bent that Dave Ryan can beat him and I just want to make a good fight and Dave Ryan wants to beat him.
I’m not going to shoot him down, Darren fought beautifully against Pete McDonagh and he has the opportunity to go and prove himself again and come back and fight this guy. He can come back and beat this guy. if he trains properly and fights properly.
I’m happy to make the fight again as the show is going to be big and it’s going to be on TV, that’s going to be excellent.
Rio – You said about Nathan Graham earlier, another excellent fighter but has lost his last two fights, against Adil Anwar and Junior Witter. How are you going to go about rebuilding his career?
Spencer – Nathan Graham against Robert Lloyd Taylor, hopefully I can get it for the Southern Area title, either way it’s going to be a fantastic fight.
Nathan has improved so much, grown so much. I have seen Robert Lloyd Taylor as few times and he wants the fight. He’s got a beautiful fan base as well, so when the fans come out and they do what they have to do then we can move onto the next one.
I just want to give the fans what they want to see. I’m bringing back Kreshnik Qato, he was a foundation guy for Hard Knocks and I don’t forget people. Everyone’s saying Ah you’re a big man, everyone’s calling your name, I don’t forget no one so I’m bringing Kreshnik back, it’s got to be for the Southern Area title.
People think he got robbed on Miranda Carter’s show, but Miranda’s my boxing sister and I love her dearly, but they did take a liberty with Kreshnik’s title though.
Rio – I understand that you have a new star waiting in the wings, word on the street is he is the real deal. Enlighten us please.
Spencer – Larry Ekundayo is one of the most talented human being that I ever have had the company of in Great Britain.
He’s got a minor immigration problem which should be resolved soon and he should be on our show in September and he will show people that he is what he is.
He’s superb, he’s a World Champion in the making, no doubt. Larry can have five fights and be British Champion and I’m not saying that to be cocky either, I’m saying that because it’s true. He’s going to be a massive star, massive World star.
Rio – OK, now lets go back to your last event Summer Smash, how are you going to top that.
Spencer – I just topped the Summer Smash just by me being alive and being able to look after my kids, just to know that my son loves me and my daughter loves me.
I said to my daughter the other day do you love daddy, she said yes and I said no you don’t and my daughter said I do because you’re my daddy. That’s it that’s me topping anything.
My children give me the emphasis to do good, you know what I mean I can look at what I can improve on. My kids give me the emphasis to be the best human being I can. So with me being the best human being in my field I have to be the best at what I’m doing.
So therefore I’m going to top Summer Smash in September. It’s going to be bigger, it’s going to be better, it’s going to be more invigorating. I’m going to have a lot of fans, Nathan Graham’s got a lot of fans, Robert Lloyd Taylor has a lot of fans. So therefore I’m going to get Nathan Graham and Robert Lloyd Taylor.
It’s all about amalgamation, amalgamation, amalgamation. I’m very fortunate that I have boxing brothers, yes I’m a promoter and have daddies that I look up to who know what I’m like, they know that I respect the dignity of the fans and I’m only going to get better.
Because I’m doing that they reciprocate. It’s only at my shows that you see the whole spectrum, there’s people from all different sectors at my shows. The racial unification is only at my shows, you know what I mean, I’ve got all of that at my shows, nobody else can do that.
You see Asians at our shows, Mongolians at our shows, Albanians at our shows, the English white guy and the English black guys at our shows, the West Indians, you go right through the whole spectrum come to our shows.
I embrace this, I go and thank everyone of them personally. I thank them genuinely for coming to our shows. I thank the fans I thank everybody.
So the reason I’m going to top this thing is for my kids, the fans and the next show is going to be bigger and I’m just happy man.
Rio – My final question is how long can you keep putting shows on at York Hall, your last show was not just sold out, it could have been sold out almost twice over as so many people wanted to be there. Do you think it’s time to find a bigger venue for your shows?
Spencer – Everybody knows it’s the mecca for British Boxing. I boxed as an amateur at the York Hall, I boxed as a pro at the York Hall, I’ve won and lost at the York Hall as a professional fighter.
So I’ll keep putting on shows at York Hall, even though it’s too small for my shows.
Watch this space, Spencer will be making an announcement in the coming weeks on his next event, the man has said he’ll top Summer Smash and you know what I believe him – and can’t wait!