THE BIG INTERVIEW - LUCIEN REID
By Richard Hubbard
“I want to impress my little boy with all the titles I get”
Lucien Reid is now counting on the expertise of a Hall of Famer to kickstart his career after his progress, for reasons unknown, stuttered and ultimately stalled under his previous promoter.
He is at something of a loss when it comes to to fathoming out why, because he did his bit, winning four out of four following his unveiling with considerable fanfare at a press conference for a bumper pay-per-view card last May.
Perhaps his face didn’t fit for Matchroom’s TV paymasters, or his weight division wasn’t deemed fashionable, as airtime was not afforded to the talented super-bantamweight in the early knockings of his venture in the professional ranks.
Eventually he was also denied dates to develop his undeniable talent, leaving him determined to seek pastures new and all roads led to Bethnal Green when it came to beginning the second chapter of his story.
The West Ham boy made his BoxNation debut 10 days ago at York Hall on the second night of a double-header broadcast to showcase the young talent from the south of England – topped off with Enzo Maccarinelli’s challenge for the EBU cruiserweight title.
His frustrations over his prolonged inactivity appeared to be taken out on his opponent Trayan Slavev, who was brutally dispatched back to his corner in less than two rounds. It was Reid’s first outing in over four months and his first as a pro at the iconic auditorium on Old Ford Road.
It would be fair to say the famous old venue made quite an impression on the 22-year-old, who has previously boxed as a pro at the 02, Grays Civic Hall and the Copper Box.
It was a steamy night in East London and the atmosphere was raucous when he opened the show for BoxNation against the Bulgarian.
“It was good, I boxed as an amateur at York Hall and it was nothing like this, I didn’t expect this sort of environment,” beamed the now 5-0 prospect. “When I walked to the ring I thought ‘woh’ and I could feel the heat straight away.
“To be honest, there were so many people in there and it is a great venue. I want to box here again many times.
“I sold quite a few tickets but people have got to remember when you haven’t boxed for five months, I had so many dates when I could have boxed, but didn’t, I was letting people down. “Obviously for my next fight, with me getting good wins and knocking people out, I am looking forward to fighting in front of more of my fans.
“I’ve boxed at the 02, but it was like at 4o’clock in the afternoon… It is a big arena but you don’t feel anything. Boxing here was totally different, I liked it and it is a good environment.
“I felt sharp and really strong. I rehydrated properly and have a strength coach on board and Peter Simms is beasting me in the gym all day, every day. I felt unreal in there, my weight was perfect, I was fit, strong – I was happy in there.”
For the former ABA champion, it is now about keeping busy and putting food on the table. The patience of this prospect was pushed to the limit and he wasn’t prepared to roll with the low punches any longer.
“I was not fighting enough, not enough dates, nothing,” explained the 5ft 5” puncher. “My contract ended in May and they had three shows in the month that they could have easily put me on, but didn’t. That is not right from the point of view that I have got a kid and I have got to provide for my son who has just turned three.
“So this fight came at the most perfect time possible and I am grateful for that.”
Reid himself thought he was in for a high profile apprenticeship when he introduced himself at the 02 last year, but now wants his career path mapped out and his ability nurtured by specialists with a track record of developing novices into champions.
“That’s exactly what I thought. In that show I knocked the kid out in the fourth round, then boxed again and went the whole four rounds, boxing really well, unbelievably sharp and looked classy.
“I think Frank Warren is perfect for prospects, he put on two shows in the space of two days (at York Hall) and nearly every single prospect from round here boxed on these shows – so that is perfect.
“I think with my ability and how I know I can fight with my amateur background, I do think I should have been boxing a lot more regularly, because if I am knocking people out within two rounds, I should box a month after I reckon.
“I train all day every day and I’m constantly fit. I do think I could be stepping it up a lot more now and I’ve got exciting things coming.
“With Frank Warren we are going to take it to the top,” he predicted, happy to have added his name to a stable of thoroughbreds learning their trade under a promoter who promotes youth.
“Massively, I can easily see that. Not being funny, but we are all prospects who boxed on these shows – apart from Enzo Maccarinelli, who is a veteran – and we are all unreal fighters like Anthony Yarde who knocked another one out.
“He is a massive prospect and I think me and him are in the same boat. We are going to keep rising and keep going to the top.”
The rise of Reid will be charted on BoxNation as he strives towards headline status, coverage that wasn’t afforded to him before. Unfortunately, any future compilation of his greatest hits will be devoid of some early footage.
“This was my fifth fight and my first live TV appearance. To be honest, I haven’t seen my debut, I haven’t seen any of that fight. I have seen some of my second, but haven’t seen any other.
“It was nice to be able to go home and actually watch myself fighting, to see what errors I have made as I hadn’t been able to watch myself as a pro up to now.”
Reid believes he should he nearer to the turn off from rookie road, even though he is mandatory already for a Southern Area title challenge.
“Massively! I could easily have had seven or eight fights. My last fight was a two-minute knockout and then I didn’t box for five months. It was a joke and it shouldn’t happen for a young fighter.
“I am 22 and I’m active all day. I’ve got a son and people don’t realise that,” he reiterated, before acknowledging his features don’t automatically suggest fatherhood.
“Exactly yeah – I look like a baby!”
Reid’s route to the ring came about through having a nature to match his then cherubic face. When trouble came knocking, he found himself lacking in fighting instinct, so his father took the initiative and signed up his boys to the local fight school, otherwise known as Repton Boxing Club.
“I was 11 when me and my brother was outside my dad’s house and got into a fight with these two kids and neither of us could fight,” he recalled with endearing honesty. “What happened was, my brother basically wasn’t throwing any punches, we didn’t know how to fight, I was scared and my dad said we needed to know how to box.
“We went to the Repton, kept going there for six years and won national titles, finals and stuff like that, before moving to West Ham and winning the ABAs and boxing there for six years. I’ve gone on to be a pro now so I am happy that sort of thing happened back then.”
Reid confesses that his brother was a more fearsome operator in the ring than himself back then and only when his sibling temporarily hung up the gloves did he really push on and start fighting his corner.
Learning the ropes wasn’t going to come easy because, he admits, aggression was not a characteristic he possessed in any great measure.
“No, nothing like that in me, my brother was the more natural fighter, whereas I had to learn. My brother gave up for four years and that is when I really improved. He came back and he still won loads of fights because he is a natural born fighter, but I had to learn.
“I wasn’t academic but was really good I PE because any sport I’ve done I take to with ease. I played district football for Hackney and had trials for Tottenham, so I was a decent footballer, but as soon as I found boxing I excelled massively. I am happy with that.
“I won the ABAs and had trials for GB two years on the trot – an untold amount of trials. I didn’t get picked, but I boxed for England a few times, so I did have international experience.”
The catalyst for switching codes came about by not being able to punch his way into Olympic contention. The rigours of attempting to win another ABAs didn’t particularly appeal as it wouldn’t have provided any guarantees so it was time to start earning a crust.
“I didn’t get on GB, as simple as that. There wasn’t much more I could do as an amateur except get on GB. I won the seniors, then what else was I supposed to do other than win it for a second year? I had to turn pro because I need to make a living,” he reasoned before outlining his objectives for the next months and years.
Belts. And lots of them.
“I am mandatory for the Southern Area title, so I want to win that – and will 100 per cent – then win the English and keep winning titles. I want to impress my little boy with all the titles I get.
“That is what boxing is about for me now, impressing my little boy. I like the traditional route, that is what I am about.”