Q: Things have come full circle and, on Saturday, Scott will feature on your undercard. Now that he too is campaigning at lightweight, there’ll naturally be a clamour to match the pair of you if you both keep winning. Would that be something that would interest you?
RB: I’ve never been one to pick and choose who I fight. I leave that entirely to my promoter Frank Warren and my manager Alex Morrison and I’d like to think my track record shows that I’ve never ducked anybody.
RB: For a start, I’m not about to look past Kevin Mitchell. Also, because Scott has been away so long, we’ll not really know what he’s got left until he steps up his level of opposition in a few fights time. I wish Scott all the best. We did spar once quite a while ago and, let’s say, I did alright.
Q: Given that all the intense and strenuous training has now been completed, the final week must be a real chore. How do you retain your focus and sanity?
RB: With difficulty. Every boxer is the same. They can’t wait to get the weigh-in over. All the hard graft is in the bag, and in the last few days we’ll just tick over with light and fast stuff. But this is when we have to cut down on our food intake and you can get a bit ‘snappy’. This camp has especially dragged because I began sparring at the very start, 12 weeks ago, to help Bradley Saunders get ready for his fight on the Haye-Chisora card.
Q: Would it be fair to say that Kevin Mitchell at his best – and every report indicates that indeed he is, both physically and mentally – provides you with the stiffest challenge of your career, so far?
RB: Maybe. Since the fight was announced, the boxing forums on the internet have been full of stuff about how Kevin blows hot and cold, but we know this is potentially an extremely tough fight. We can’t control what Kevin Mitchell turns up, we can only fully prepare to get everything right from our end. And I can assure you, that’s what we’ve done.
Q: The popular consensus was that John Murray would be too strong for Kevin because he was coming off a stoppage to Michael Katsidis, had been out for a while, and Murray was flying at the time. But, having sparred Kevin in the build up to that fight, I told everybody he’d have too much.
RB: Everybody knows Kevin can punch and he’d shown when he beat Breidis Prescott how good he could also be when he goes back foot. I knew he’d beat Murray but, even then, though everybody thought he looked very impressive, Kevin got dragged in once or twice when he really didn’t need to.
In his tune up with (Felix) Lora, he fought the right fight, in and out. Kevin’s got lots of tools but, the way we train, whether he decides to box or brawl, we’ll be ready.
Q: Much has been made of the ‘spar’ you had, in the formative stages of Mitchell’s preparation for the John Murray fight last summer (2011). Even Kevin admits that you got the better of proceedings, but claims you were in far better shape. It must be difficult not to get complacent, knowing you had his number?
RB: No, no. Sparring’s sparring; totally different. On fight night, neither of us will have headguards or fat 16oz gloves on. I can’t speak for Kevin but it’s no secret that I treat my spars like a fight and always give my all. The only thing I would like to point out is that it was only about five or six weeks before the Murray fight so Kevin must’ve had reasonable fitness himself. People are also making a big thing that I beat Michael Katsidis quite comfortably and Katsidis stopped Kevin but, likewise, that will have no bearing. Styles make fights. I read nothing into that.
Q; Does the England-Scotland dimension add a bit of spice for you?
RB: Not personally, but some of the fans will no doubt make a big thing of it. For me, it’s just my job. Once the bell goes, it’s never about where the opponent is from, it’s solely about getting the victory.
Q: The bookmakers have it mighty close. What type of fight are you expecting and what do you have, that Mitchell doesn’t, that’ll see you victorious?
RB: I’m not really fussed what type of fight Kevin brings. If I can win by boxing back foot without taking any shots then that’s what I’ll do.
But I think there’ll almost certainly be times in this fight when we’ll have to trade and I absolutely guarantee that I’ll not be the one backing off first. I’ve been sparring with a big local middleweight called David Brophy and also (ex British light-welter champion) Ashley Theophane has been down. I’ve been working on backing them all up. I couldn’t be happier with how my sparring has gone.
After my camp, I feel so physically strong and intend stamping some authority in the first few rounds. I’ve never claimed to be a one punch knockout artist but I certainly hit hard enough to prevent opponents from rushing in, charging through me. Apparently, you can get 6-1 on my winning by stoppage at any time. That’s got to be worth a few quid of anybody’s money!
September 21, 2012