The latest in our weekly fighting talk feature on what’s said and done inside – and outside – the ropes
Hooks & Jabs
By Richard Hubbard
SUCH IS THE fine margin between success and setback at the highest level, it is little wonder that competitors are always seeking an edge and striving for even the tiniest advantage.
For dedicated athletes – and boxers in particular – training to the max is a given and you will rarely come across a fighter who concedes to having a below-par camp anyway.
Young super featherweight Archie Sharp went straight for the head in his quest for a training gain and the ‘Sharpshooter’ has certainly been finding the target in his last four fights, with four straight KOs resulting in the 22-year-old’s name now being mentioned in championship circles.
For Archie, the drilling of his mind is as vital as that of his jab.
“It is a form of hypnotherapy and it is basically drumming positive messages and the future into your unconscious mind,” he explained on his employment of a mind coach. “It is like a big filing cabinet, you are grabbing things and storing them, so it becomes like riding a bike.
“There is a lot of visualisation. You jump on the bike and you know what you are doing automatically without thinking about it. It comes naturally once you learn it and it becomes second nature.
“It is the same thing here with the mind coaching I’m doing. I’m using my programmes that are drummed into my head and I can visualise a fight and I know there is another stoppage coming.
“I have just got to be physically fit and go in there and do it. I already know what is going to happen.
“Some of the opponents I’ve had were not meant to be stopped and were supposed to go the distance. I have continually visualised stopping them and I have been doing what has been on my mind.”
The 10-0 Archie took up the therapy after a hugely successful amateur career fizzled out a bit towards the end due to a drop in motivation and not feeling challenged.
He sought the assistance of psychotherapist Linda Keen, a previous associate of Tony Quinn, who famously worked the mind of Steve Collins before his epic encounters with Chris Eubank in the mid-90s.
An upturn in fortunes swiftly followed and the services of Keen were called upon again once his professional journey was up and running.
“I don’t get nervous as much as before, I can control things and I am enjoying the sport,” added Archie.
“I have a session a couple of times a week and, if I am out on a run, I plug in my earphones and listen to my programmes.
“I do things in training that I don’t think any of my opponents will be doing and I definitely don’t think they will be doing this.
“Some people turn up their nose to it, but it works for me and the mind is so powerful. If you put your mind to something you can do it.”
Archie has been winning by a head, you could say.
PATTERSON EYES TITLE PICTURE
AFTER EMERGING FROM the pit of despair he plummeted into following the injury-enforced withdrawal from a tilt at the British title in December of last year, Ahmet Patterson has the fire back in his belly now his feet are once again treading the canvas at the Peacock Gym.
The victim of a street attack, where the damage from a brick used as a weapon resulted in nerve damage close to his eye, Patterson had been laying low as he came to terms with the threat to his career prospects.
Now rejuvenated, he still has his eyes firmly on the prize and takes strength from what was a harrowing experience.
“I’ve still got that drive and that fire burning inside of me,” revealed the 29-year-old. “I still believe I can do a lot and I know that, in life, there are always going to be hurdles and doors slammed in your face.
“I believe you’ve got to kick them down and the mind is powerful in that. I’m not saying I am now glad it happened, but I now feel mentally stronger and I am stronger within myself.
“I don’t want to be thinking ‘what if’ ten or so years down the line. I want to know that I gave it my all and get something out of it.
“I believe I have got something, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
Despite nine or so months of complete inactivity on the boxing front, Patterson insists he has lost none of the fitness and finesse he was previously renowned for and it won’t be a case of attempting to squeeze the genie back in the bottle.
“The genie has never left – he has always been there man. I thank God for my work ethic and I just keep on going. I have always been questioned even since my amateur days because they used to think I was on something. I just keep going and don’t get tired.
“I believe, in life, everyone is chasing a feeling. Everything we do in life is to feel good. I just want to do what makes me feel good and being in the ring, the training, fighting in front of a crowd – those are the things that make me feel good.
“So why would I not do it?”
With his 17-0 card, Patterson knows he is probably just one good win from being back in the thick of it chasing fights with the leading lights Liam Smith and Liam Williams.
“These fights will happen and people are going to meet regardless. Before I was even in the picture at light middleweight I was calling out Smith – I wanted to fight him for a good year.
“Eventually I was fighting Williams and now he is fighting Smith again.
“Worlds are going to clash eventually.
“This is the fight game and nothing has moved away, we are all still here. I don’t know where the future lies, I have to focus on myself and all I can do is give my all.
“I’ve got to get my medicals done and get back in. I am off the missing persons list and I apologise to everyone for me being so stop and start with getting back.
“I believe things happen for a reason and I am focusing on the journey rather than the end goal, nonstop learning and I am enjoying it again.”
ANOTHER CLAIM TO FAME FOR FRANK
CONGRATULATIONS TO PROMOTER Frank Warren, who last Sunday was honoured at the third annual British Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony in Hastings.
“It was a lovely afternoon,” said Frank of his induction, which makes it a double alongside his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
“I saw John Conteh down there and lots of old fighters I have been involved with like Frank Bruno, Prince Rodney, Tony Sibson and Steve Robinson.
“For me it was a privilege to be there.”