Big things are being predicted for Romford welter Sam McNess who embarks on his pro debut on Friday 17th July at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.
Remaining tickets are available from Ticketmaster on www.ticketmaster.co.uk
As an amateur, the 23 year old won five national junior titles and was ranked as England’s senior number one at 69KG.
Born in Whitechapel and sponsored by East End legend Charlie Magri, the former WBC flyweight champion, slick Sam will be looking to extend the proud tradition of Cockney crowd pleasers.
Recently, he opened up to boxing writer Glynn Evans.
I understand you’ve got boxing in your blood.
That’s right. My dad (Steve) won a few national (junior) titles and was an England rep at every level. He then turned pro with Mickey Duff and Terry Lawless and once held future British welterweight champion Harry Dhami to a draw. Unfortunately his career was ruined by cuts (five stoppage losses) before he really got up to title level.
So I was brought up around boxing gyms. When I was probably just three years old, I remember one of the Bowers’ brothers rollicking me for swinging on the bags at the Peacock Gym when dad was training.
My younger brother Scott also boxed for England. He won the Junior ABAs and made it to the national schoolboys final but he’s not boxing at the minute.
When did you become actively involved yourself?
Funnily enough, dad weren’t keen on me boxing and it was actually me mum who took me to the Repton gym for the first month or so. I’d have been about nine at the time.
Apart from one fight for West Ham (ABC) when I was 17, I spent my entire amateur career at the Repton coached by Tony Burns; a very misunderstood man. Meeting him first time, you might think him rude but he’s actually really nice. He helped me every way he could, in boxing and other areas.
What were the highlights of your amateur career?
I probably had just under 90 bouts and won well over 70. I won two national schools titles, the CYPs, a Four Nations gold medal as a schoolboy, plus a GB gold. I also got to three ABA finals – two as a junior – but always got edged out.
In 2013, Jeff Saunders – brother of Bradley – beat me up at Sunderland in the Senior final. I was just drained after a really hard campaign. I’d had seven fights, Saunders just three. Still, good experience.
I spent four years on the GB Development Squad up in Sheffield and that really brought me on. I sparred regularly with the likes of Anthony Fowler, Tom Stalker, Luke Campbell, Fred Evans and Callum Smith. They were among the best amateurs in the world at the time.
I must have fought internationally at least 20 times all around the globe. I got food poisoning in China and lost to the world champion Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan in his home country. He was the best I ever fought. I also boxed in Nigeria with the Repton.
In 2014 you were the number one ranked amateur in England. Weren’t you tempted to hang around for the Rio Olympics?
I was favourite for the slot to represent England for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but lost a dodgy split decision to a kid from Hoddeston (Chris Webb) in the ABA quarters.
In my last two amateur years, I started training with Tony Sims and gradually became more interested in the pros. Once I turned 23 I decided I had enough maturity and experience to ‘turn over’. I didn’t have the time to wait for the next Olympics. My dream was always to be a pro world champion.
What measures have you taken to help acclimatize to the profession, ahead of your debut?
I’ve been training with Mark Tibbs at the West Ham Boys Club gym in Plaistow. Mark’s a great trainer who can also tap into his dad (Jimmy)’s knowledge and experience. We’ve a great relationship and I trust him with my career.
During my time with Tony Sims, I moved around with guys like Kevin Mitchell, Darren Barker and John Ryder. I used to spar with Gary Corcoran before he moved on and lately I’ve done a lot with (English light-welter champion) Tommy Martin. I used to get easily frustrated but I’m gradually starting to relax more and stay calm.
Style wise, what can pro fans – who’ve not seen you box – expect?
I’m basically an orthodox box-fighter. My heroes were guys like Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya, guys who could box and fight, who had great hand speed.
At 5ft 10in, I’m quite tall for a welter and, like all Repton lads, I can box if I need to. But I always boxed in a pro style. I’ve always preferred to get close and throw the hooks and uppercuts. I like to excite. I stopped quite a few as a junior but many of my senior fights were internationals and the gloves are far more padded in the amateurs.
How do you pass your time away from boxing?
I like to listen to old school 80s music and I enjoy a game of golf. I go over West Ham (FC) when I can but it was always difficult when I was up in Sheffield with the GB team. Hopefully, I’ll see ‘em more now I’m back in the south.
After a few hiccups, you finally kick start your career in a four rounder at the York Hall on Friday (17th July). What would represent a good night’s work?
I’ve not boxed in London for over two years now so it’ll be great to perform before all my family and friends again. I just want to look good, no silly predictions.
Ultimately, I want to be respected by the boxing world. I’ll let my fists do the talking.
Trainer Mark Tibbs adds: ‘I wish all the amateurs sent to me were as mature as Sam McNess is. He’s very easy to train, carries out instructions instantaneously and works very hard at improving his game.
To start with, Sam was a bit upright, mechanical and robotic and we needed to add a bit of variety. But he’s developing into a smart, sharp counter puncher. Like all the GB squad, he’s a very good athlete and, at 23, he’s already very strong physically.
He just needs a bit of tweaking. Once Sam starts to relax and gets his head moving, it won’t be long before he’s up at championship level.’