Unbeaten light-middleweight hope Gary Corcoran has been a proper fighting man his entire life, writes Glynn Evans.
The rumbling rucker from an Irish traveller’s site in Paddington insists The Noble Art rescued him from a life of ruin.
‘If it wasn’t for boxing, I’d probably be in jail or worse,’ claims the 25 year old who squares off with Bristol banger Danny Butler in a succulent looking 10 rounder for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental belt at York Hall on Friday.
‘I just love to fight. Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve been scrapping bare knuckle on the sites and at school. I was excluded 19 times and almost every time it was for fighting. I never bothered how big or old they were. I never backed down and always came up in front. That’s why they called me ‘The Hellraiser’!’
The third eldest of 12 siblings, action man Gary has been fighting with the gloves since the age of 10 but his X rated ring style didn’t court much love with stuffy amateur officials. However, since joining the paid brigade in November 2011, he’s won 14 straight and now backs himself against any domestic rival in the 154lb weight category.
He states: ‘I’d be a fool to look past Danny Butler on Friday night but beating him will get me a world ranking with the WBO. Then, after one defence, get me (WBO king) Liam Smith. I believe I’m ready for him or (British and Commonwealth champion) Liam Williams right now, if the fight gets offered.
‘They’re good champions but very beatable, nowhere near the level of Kell Brook who I’ve been sparring, and do well against.’
Just two of the ‘Hellraiser’s’ initial dozen opponents entered with winning slates as he served his apprenticeship under Mark Tibbs at the TKO gym in Canning Town.
However, his two most recent foes – Bolton’s Rick Godding and Penrith southpaw Rick Skelton – were undefeated in 35 fights combined prior to Corcoran mauling both in 10 rounders at Wembley Arena last year.
‘I was born on a site in Wembley so it was fantastic fighting on home territory. If I challenged for a British title there I’d shift over 300 tickets easy,’ says the suffocating pressure fighter who brings a particularly brutal body attack.
‘They were two very good boys who both came with a mind set to beat me. The journeymen I’d faced before covered up like crabs and ran away but, because Godding and Skelton were throwing loads of shots at me, they left gaps and it was actually easier for me to land on them.
‘At the end of the day, I was far too strong for both of them. Light-middle suits me perfectly. I began as a pro at 10 stone but outgrew two divisions very quickly and was underperforming because I was a bit drained making the lighter weights.
‘Since switching to (Cockney coach) Peter Stanley last year, I’m less square on, I’ve improved my movement and increased the angles I can deliver my heavy punches from.’
Following six months’ dormancy, Corcoran will be frothing at the prospect of raising hell again come Friday. His bang-up with Butler was initially penned as the headline act for February’s Dublin bill which was cancelled following fatal shootings at the weigh-in.
‘My ancestry is from County Galway so I was really looking forward to debuting there but there was nothing I could do about it,’ he says.
‘Once the gun shots started, I did the same as everybody else. Scarpered! It’s not very often you see ‘The Hellraiser’ run away! Hopefully, I can return to Ireland and fulfil my ambition in the future.’
Friday’s fight – which effectively doubles as a British title eliminator – represents the start of what Team Corcoran expect will be a long and fruitful innings at championship level.
‘This is my first title fight and it’s given me a real buzz,’ he disclosed.
‘My brother Billy ‘The Kid’ Corcoran fought Carl Johanneson for the super-feather title but unfortunately came up short and another brother Eddie won eight of nine as a welterweight before jacking it. So now it’s up to me to deliver the bacon for the Corcorans.
‘I’ve had to really step up my training. It’s been difficult to peak and re-peak through all the disruptions but you just have to get on with the job.
‘I’ve been having proper wars in sparring with Kell Brook and I’ve also been doing very good against Tommy Langford and Adam Etches – far bigger men – plus Bradley Skeete and Frankie Gavin. I’ve nothing to fear from Butler.’
With his 28 year old West Country opponent – a former Young England rep – on a golden run of six straight wins (five by stoppage), fans can expect carnage from the moment the opening bell sounds…..and the ‘Hellraiser’ wouldn’t have it any other way!
‘Butler might have more experience but he’s been in a lot of hard fights and they’ll have taken a toll,’ he claims.
‘Also, he was up at middleweight for a long, long time so dropping down will surely take something out of him.
‘To be fair, Danny weren’t a bad puncher up at middleweight and does everything else average; nothing exceptional but no obvious weaknesses.
‘He certainly doesn’t worry me. I’ll need to keep my head switched on but I’m a bit younger and far fresher. I know I’ll have too much for him.
‘I always come to fight and guarantee excitement. I fancy I can stop him. That’d be a good statement.’