INTRODUCING BILLY LONG: “FIGHT NIGHT IS WHAT I LIVE FOR!”
Rising Chelmsford super-middle Billy ‘The Bomb’ Long’s pro CV might list just three fights but already the popular 27 year old Essex boy is proving a champion when it comes to flogging tickets.
Thus far, he all action crowd pleaser has shifted close to 300 briefs for each public airing.
‘My fans are blinding. Fight nights are what I live for,’ disclosed the chirpy personal trainer who claims he is the ‘daddy’ regarding both looks and banter at the Legends gym in Dagenham.
‘My parents have been publicans for many years and also run a wine bar in Chelmsford town centre. Mum’s one of nine, Dad’s one of three, I’m one of five. We know a lot of people.’
Dubbed ‘The Bomb’, crowd pleasing Billy detonated onto the pro circuit with three standout wins before fanatical support in 2015.
‘There used to be an old East End gangster called Billy ‘The Bomb’. My gym mate Scott Douglas insisted I use it for my pro career. I used to be Billy ‘The Kid’, just like every other boxer called Billy!’ he explains.
Chelmsford born and bred, Spurs fan Billy concedes he didn’t lace a boxing glove until after his 19th birthday had passed.
He recalls: ‘When I first went into a boxing gym it was because I wanted to become the local hard man, not a boxer.
‘Growing up I had a hell of a lot of (street) fights. I used to drink heavily and wanted to be the big person in the bar. I also had loads of scraps on the football field. But boxing really humbled me. Early doors, I took loads of hidings in sparring from kids I’d have fancied my chances against on the street.
‘I actually started out with five unlicensed fights – all wins – then had 11 amateur bouts at the Hoddesden club in which I lost just two. I also had a cage fight which I won.
‘I reached the senior ABA quarter finals in 2014 but had to withdraw after James DeGale broke my nose in a spar over at Jimmy Mac’s gym. My amateur highlight was winning the King of the Ring tournament in Sweden. I had an England trial up in Leeds but the amateur coaches weren’t fussed on the way I boxed, steaming forward, chucking big shots.’
However, since vaulting to the pros last March, Long has profited from a style makeover courtesy of rising trainer Jamie Williams.
‘Jamie is very underrated. He went out with Kevin Mitchell’s sister for nine years and started ‘Kev’ out as a young amateur,’ says ‘The Bomb’.
‘Today, I’m basically a defensive fighter though if I feel I’m losing, I can have a war to get myself out of jail.
‘Against the negative journeymen, you’re forced to chase but you’ll see more of my class as a step up the quality of my opposition. In addition to ‘Chunky’ (Degale), I’ve also sparred the likes of George Groves and John Ryder recently. I perform better against quality guys like them.’
The father of three sons opted to punch for pounds full-time after struggling to hold down a regular job. Thus far, he has dominated all placed before him.
He says: ‘First up I fought (Brighton’s) Iain Jackson a tough, tough dangerous guy. But I managed to push him back and win on points. Second time, I shut out a Spaniard (Christian Hoskin Gomez) who went unbeaten in his next three after me, so was decent. Last fight, I finally got a stoppage against a Croatian (Gordan Glisic) who usually lasts to points.’
On Friday week, expect Long’s Essex platoon to ram into the York Hall, Bethnal Green for his fourth gig, a lively looking dust-up with teak tough Telford warlord Kieron ‘Slammer’ Gray.
‘Kieron’s a tough, game journeyman so it certainly won’t be easy. Hopefully I can send all my fans home happy,’ says bustling Billy.
‘Now I’m managed by Andy Ayling who has unbelievable knowledge and contacts. I know he can take me to places far beyond my talent.
‘I’ve only been at the boxing properly for four years so you need to start off realistic. I’ve always wanted a Southern Area title. That’s my goal right now. Every boxer needs a photo with a belt around their belly! ’