PLOTTING THE NEXT MOVE
Fighter Diary by Harvey Horn
After being denied his Olympic dream it was time for Harvey Horn to ponder his next step. In his next exclusive Fighter Diary, the new pro – who begins his journey at the Copper Box on December 9 – takes up the story on making his break from Team GB…
AFTER I WAS denied a ticket to the Rio Games it would be true to say my head went. I didn’t want anything to do with, not just GB, but with boxing.
Because it was such a strong possibility for me to go, it made me sick to think about it. Everywhere I looked I was seeing Rio, if I was watching the telly there was an advert about it – Instagram, Twitter, the whole lot. It was in my face.
It is hard to get over something when it is there the whole time.
I actually went to Brazil to help them prepare and was supposed to be there for two weeks, but I had to leave after one. I said to (Rob) McCracken, who was running it, that my head was not in the right place and I wanted to leave.
The other boys who didn’t make it were disappointed in other ways, but they didn’t have the rug pulled from beneath them like I felt I did.
I remember the meeting we had when they said I wasn’t going to the qualifiers. When I came out the boys thought I was messing about when I said I wasn’t going.
A lot of people said they were in shock because before this I was travelling everywhere with the Olympic team over a two-year period.
I was originally planning on staying on for another four-year Olympic cycle, to be honest, because I thought at 24-25 I would have a lot more experience and a real chance of winning.
But I felt that by staying on I wasn’t going to get the opportunities I was having before Galal (Yafai) got put on the team. Four years is a long, long time to invest though and I spoke to Rob about maybe staying until the Commonwealth Games, but it was clear that it was four years or nothing.
I was still upset over the Rio decision and had it all spinning round my head when I decided to leave, which I thought would be best for me.
I didn’t really want to be so young when I turned over, but now I feel I am playing the hand I’ve been dealt and this is the right thing for me.
Now it is all done with I don’t look back at my time on GB with any anger and I couldn’t be happier over having my time there, which was like an apprenticeship.
I had three years fighting the world’s best and it has prepared me for anything these professionals can throw at me – certainly at this stage in my career.
Certainly for my first ten fights – and even up to domestic level – there is nobody I can see who has been boxing at the same level as me.
My last fight was in April of this year when I got sent to the European Under-22s and I wasn’t completely switched on for it. I was half and half, but I felt that I needed to make a statement to try and push myself back to the No.1 spot.
So I boxed in Romania in what was a big tournament and I won gold out there, which turned out to be a good way to finish, but I was sure with another Europeans coming up that I would be going to that too.
Then I was told I wouldn’t be going to that one either and it was my tipping point. Maybe they could see I wasn’t right and it was perhaps an easier decision than the Olympics for them.
I left in May even though they were keen to keep me on. I would have been keen to stay had all the stuff not happened before but I felt it was time for a new chapter and to have a go at the pro game.
I did a bit of research, had a look at who was about in the pros and I couldn’t see anyone who is a real threat or that I didn’t have the capability of handling.
So now, with my trainer Mark Tibbs, I have been transitioning towards the professionals, but I don’t think I will ever completely lose all the habits because I’ve always had an amateur style.
I have now got so much knowledge around me with Mark – and with Jimmy Tibbs also around – and that, combined with my amateur pedigree will serve me well.
I learn quickly and every time I step in the gym I am learning something new. It is taking a while and I believe it will take me a few fights to really unleash my potential.
Mark is happy with me, I am happy with myself and I think I will be quite dangerous.