Semi-final of the WBSS - Q&A
Q: Not the start to the week that you expected. Talk us through the moment you found out Brahmer was ill?
The week started off very normal - I was running late to get to the airport!
But when we were boarding - literally in the tunnel - we got the news that Brahmer was ill and a replacement fighter would need to step in. I think Joe said words to the effect "You are joking" and I didn't really know what to say, but we knew there had to be a finalist and that for each tournament fight there would be a reserve fighter on standby. The mentioned Nieky but I think they were also speaking to a few other fighters.
5 minutes later we were on the plane. I watched a couple of Nieky's clips before we set off but then it was quite good as I had a couple of hours just to let the news sink in without discussing it. By the time we landed in Germany I was mentally ready to fight whoever was put in front of me.
Q: How did you change your preparations to reflect the change in opponent?
Most of the preparations had already been done, for example, all my sparring had been done against southpaws and most of my padwork had been preparing for a southpaw. I guess it would have been more difficult had I prepared for an orthodox but got landed with a southpaw replacement!
I have a good amateur background and in the amateurs you fight different types in quick succession, one day you might be against a tall awkward orthodox, then against a short powerful southpaw. So I had to the experience to adapt.
It did mean studying new footage to work out what to expect, Joe prepared most of the footage we viewed it together. WE also had an hour or so in a local boxing gym going through some routines which we thought would work well against Nieky.
Q: There were concerns within your team about fighting in Germany, how was it for you?
The gym has been on the wrong side of some questionable decisions in Germany, Macklin against Sturm and Paul against Abraham, so it was natural for there to be some concern. I wasn't too fussed where the fight was as I believed I would beat Brahmer wherever.
When I signed up for the tournament I knew I would lose control over who I fight, when I fight and where I fight. I think this is why some teams are reluctant to put their fighters in to the tournament, but this wasn't an issue for us! We like the format and the guarantee of good fights and it gives the fans excitement about what is around the corner.
We did make the joke in the team that we got a neutral venue in the end! Even funnier is that had the fight been in amsterdamn as had been proposed as a neutral venue, Holzken would have been fighting at home.
Q: What were the main differences for you between fighting in the uk and abroad?
The downtime is very different. There is a lot of downtime during fight week - when in Liverpool I see family and friends, but that of course wasn’t possible but I had a good team around me. We went for a few walks round the city and played a few games. It was good fun actually – one that took the camp was a competition who could name the most American States in 15 minutes. Other games included ‘heads up’ and ‘Dobble’.
My brothers and dad arrived on Wednesday evening which gave a more familiar dynamic – full of banter, jokes and arguing. I just sit back, enjoy and observe. Stephen is the main one loving a good wind up – he is the joker of us!
Q: It was mentioned at the press conference that your hands were a little sore, is there anything to be concerned about?
It was only a little bruising – so nothing to worry about!
Q: What did you get up to after the fight?
We just chilled.
We spent an hour or so in the changing rooms whilst we sorted drugs tests etc. I have a sweet tooth so I had a donut – I had been craving one since we went past Dunkin Donuts earlier in the week. Most of the team had to get back to Manchester for the Matchroom show on Sunday, so they had to get a few hours sleep before getting an early flight back. The rest of us just went back to the hotel and sat around chatting and eating pizza.
Q: We know family is important to you - what family did you have watching the fight?
My brothers and dad joined the team on Wednesday. My sister Chloe also goes to all of our fights – she’s a big boxing fan – so she turned up on Saturday! My mum never watches us as she doesn’t want to see her boys fight.
My girlfriend, Kim, goes to all my fights but she cannot bring herself to watch them so she just walks round the arena until it’s over. It was great to see her in the audience at the presser as it had been a long week apart!