By Danny Winterbottom
If you spend any amount of time talking to Heywood’s unbeaten Central Area lightweight champion Kieran Farrell about the art of punching for pay it soon becomes evident that his passion for the sport is unquenchable.
The no nonsense 22-year-old who once told me he would fight Manny Pacquiao for an area title if he had to is part of arguably the most exciting Prizefighter field yet assembled by Matchroom Sport boss Eddie Hearn, when the ever popular elimination tournament once again touches down in the cauldron that is the Liverpool Olympia on October 6.
This time it is the lightweights that take centre stage with a field that includes a trio of fighters with history. Recently disposed British champion Derry Mathews will have former foe Anthony Crolla chomping at the bit to take him on in the opening series of bouts, and Gary Sykes, Dewsbury’s former British champion down at 9st 4lbs, will also be in the sights of “Million Dollar” after defeating the hotly tipped Mancunian in an eliminator for the title back in 2009. They are joined by Terry Needham (6-1), Stephen Jennings (5-1), Nathan Brough (8-0) and Liam Patrick Walsh (10-1)
However Farrell intends to make a statement of his own. “I want to win it the hard way” he said in a phone call to SecondsOut.com. “I would love to beat Mathews, Sykes and then me and Crolla in the final. That would be better than beating the guys with lesser names.”
“Credit to all the other fighters but I’ve got my own goals in this sport and they include winning this tournament and moving on. It isn’t about the money for me but I know it is for some of them.”
Taking a backwards step inside a boxing ring just isn’t in the makeup of the Coldwell protégé, a style that is well suited to the crash-bang-wallop nature of boxing’s equivalent of the 100 metres, and Farrell revealed he has a long standing ambition to be a part of the tournament that has taken the sport by storm.
“I have been telling people I would love to be in a Prizefighter but I didn’t think Eddie would put one on around my weight for a while. I was talking to Dave (Coldwell) about it the other day and then I found out there was gonna be one at lightweight so I text John Breen straight away to tell him I fancied it and could he mention it to Dave. Next thing I know I’m looking on BoxRec and there is my name down. Dave told me that Matchroom thought of me straight away.”
After an impressive left hook to the body sunk the previously unbeaten Joe Elfidh back in June promoter Dave Coldwell made moves to secure an English title fight for “Vicious” against Hull’s Tommy Coyle, with a mooted date of late September. However, Steve Wood who handles affairs for Coyle withdrew from the purse bids and “Boom Boom” is set to face hard hitting former British champion Carl Johanneson in an eliminator for the Lonsdale belt at 9st 9lbs. (Dave Coldwell later confirmed to me that the BBBofC meeting had yet to take place before Steve Wood withdrew Coyle from the contest)
“When the Coyle fight fell through I didn’t want to go down the route of a Masters fight or anything like that” said Farrell.
Joining Farrell from the Manchester end of the M62 motorway and taking the final spot in the tournament is Anthony Crolla. After suffering a shock defeat at the hands of Derry Mathews last time out many people were surprised when his name was announced by Eddie Hearn but Farrell told me he finds it harder to understand the inclusion of a different contestant.
“Am I surprised he’s in it, no not really” he said of the Gallagher trained former champion.
“This is his way back after Mathews stopped him. I’m more surprised that Gary Sykes is in it. Wasn’t he fighting Broner for a world title last time?”
Although the Heywood youngster lacks the experience of the more established names in the field he feels that his freshness will be the key to victory when fighting back to back contests on one night with little rest time in between.
“I’ve got dedication to this sport like no other fighter in the field. If I could fight once a week I would. Some of them will have one eye on the £32,000 but as I said before it is about the glory of winning for me. I am very confident I will win.”
“I’m gonna put a £1,000 on myself” he stated. “That’s how confident I am. I will put it on Twitter and Facebook, I’m not messing around.”
With the tournament still three months or so away Farrell will have time to sufficiently shift a niggling back injury that he picked up during an overzealous light training session at his former amateur gym, Darnhill ABC, when an over stretched right hand saw him tweak it.
“I got a bit excited the other day and I felt a little strain in my back. I have had acupuncture on it already but the guy doing it burned me with candles he was using!” laughed Farrell.
Next week will see the Coldwell stable boxer of the year head off to Belfast and John Breen’s gym for sparring with former Gavin Rees foe Andy Murray. Farrell will then spend time living and training in Belfast under the watchful eye of Breen and his assistant Eamon Magee as he aims to be in the shape of his life come October 6.