English middleweight king Joe Mullender is a fighting man to the core and you sense that having eight ounce gloves tied to his flailing fists is viewed as something of a soft imposition.
‘Even today, if I see two fighters trying to nick a decision off the back foot, I’ll switch the TV off,’ claims ‘Smokin’ Joe, who looks to add the vacant IBF East/West European belt to his collection at London’s Copper Box Arena this Saturday by taming Welsh warlord Lee Churcher in a scheduled 12 rounder.
‘From my early teens I’d stay up to watch the Hatton and Tyson fights from the States; my kind of fighters. I favour the brawlers over the classy boxers. The only style I struggle with is the runners.’
The 31 year old father of two sons concedes that his earliest spats took place outside the prize ring.
‘As a young kid, I was pretty quiet but when I was 15, I chinned someone on a building site and, after that, I never looked back, never let anyone take the mick out of me again,’ confessed the Haroldwood-born rucker who is managed by Andy Ayling and coached by Jamie Williams at the Legends Gym in Dagenham.
‘Around 17, 18, I was fighting nonstop. I never started them but always seemed to come out on top.’
At 23, he opted to pursue a legal avenue for his violent cravings.
He recalls: ‘I joined the Five Star ABC and won 13 of 15 – avenging one of those losses – and stopping seven. I was London Novice champion and basically just had a ‘tear-up’. You never saw Ricky Hatton go back foot.
‘I didn’t turn pro until I was 25 but my style takes a lot out of ya and, had I been boxing since I was 15, I might be washed up now.
Despite my age, I feel very strong and fit. All I do is train. I’m in the gym twice a day and I don’t drink or smoke.’
‘Smoky’s’ wild ways have seen his hand raised after 10 of his 12 pro fights, since debuting back in May 2012.
‘Ability wise, I’ll never set the world alight but if I can draw the other kid into a fight, I’ll back my natural strength, my biggest attribute,’ says the qualified personal trainer.
‘I’m from a family of manual labourers and I’ve been landscaping with my dad since I was 11 years old. From 15, I was carrying the hod and doing block paving.
‘I showed that I’ve some boxing skills in my English title win over Lee Markham last June but I never look to win a fight on points. Having a ‘fight’ is where I’m most comfy. I feel I put myself more at risk when I’m on the back foot.
‘I apply relentless pressure. I look to drain opponents, make them work when I’m resting. Drag them into a war from round one.’
Mullender’s X rated ring manner has made him a huge box-office draw in his native Essex, accelerating his progression to the major promotions. Expect his ring walk to be greeted with an almighty din on Saturday.
‘I’m very lucky in that I can put a lot of bums on seats,’ he says.
‘I shifted around 400 tickets when I fought Markham at the O2 and I’ve already sold almost 30 grand’s worth of tickets for Saturday.
‘The goal is to keep winning in paid fights on the tele. But I’m interested in moving quick. I box predominantly for money so I can set the family up and my kids have the best life I can give them.
‘I’ll go wherever the money is. I believe I’ve enough to walk away with a British title but I’d happily box ‘Triple G’ for a couple of million pounds!’