Swaby gunning for Hobson revenge

24.05.04 - By Ben Carey: Lee Swaby will be aiming to complete a remarkable career metamorphosis from luckless journeyman to unlikely double champion when he challenges Mark Hobson for the British and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles at the Huddersfield Sports Centre this Thursday.

The Lincoln southpaw will be hoping to go one better than last time when he conceded a wafer thin 96-95 decision to Hobson in a official eliminator for the British title at this same venue two years ago. After a nip-and-tuck opening, Swaby seized the initiative in the fourth sending Hobson tumbling to the canvas not once but twice in front of his stunned home crowd. Bleeding from the nose and mouth, the local favourite managed to weather the crisis to work his way back into the fight as Swaby took his foot off the gas. The battle was delicately poised until an accidental clash of heads in the seventh resulted in Swaby receiving a nasty gash on his forehead just above the bridge of his nose. With the pendulum having swung back in Hobson’s favour, he was able to take advantage to box his way to a narrow but vital victory on referee Mickey Vann’s card. But for his unfortunate injury, Swaby maintains it is he who would have prevailed.

“If it wasn’t for the cut last time then I think it was pretty much in the bag. When they managed to stem the bleeding for the last round I turned it round on him again and he was having all sorts of problems. It was just that middle period where I couldn’t see anything and he saw light at the end of the tunnel and charged forward,” Swaby told British Eastside. “The first couple of rounds were too and fro, I got my range in the third, hammered it home in the fourth – down he went (twice). He managed to get up. I got through quite a bit of work in the fourth so I thought I’d take a breather in the fifth. I started to turn up the heat again in the sixth but in the seventh we clashed heads and it went downhill from there.”

Now Swaby has his chance for revenge with the prize for the winner being far greater than it was two years ago. Former British champion Bruce Scott’s astonishingly defenceless 27-month reign from March 2001 to June 2003 (he was finally stripped due to injury and inactivity) epitomised a division that few, if any, seemed to care about. But the arrival of explosive young guns David Haye and Enzo Maccaranelli, coupled with the return of the wildly exciting veteran Carl Thompson, has left fans drooling over the possibility of witnessing some thrilling domestic duels. If Hobson and Swaby are to enhance both their bank balances and their reputations it is essential they win on Thursday. Both camps are already dreaming of what could lie in wait.

“I’ve read a few comments from Chris Aston (Hobson’s trainer) that made me laugh. He said this fight is an un-official eliminator for Carl Thompson. In one breath he’s saying Mark’s the one (who should be allowed to face Thompson) but then contradicts himself by saying it’s an unofficial eliminator. It’s as if he sees me as being on a level par with Hobson even though he’s been saying how much Mark has come on. I don’t know how close a fight with Thompson is for either of us but it’s certainly something that interests me and obviously it interests Hobson. It will be a little easier for me to make the match because we’re under the same promoter (Fight Academy),” said Swaby.
Since losing to Hobson, Swaby has won 6 in a row over modest opposition. The former kick-boxer’s patchy 35-fight ledger, 19-13-2 (9), fails to do justice to his range of skills and underestimated power. Four years ago Swaby flattened the then 3-0 Enzo Maccarinelli with one punch in the Welshman’s Swansea backyard. It remains the current WBU champion’s only defeat. Unsurprisingly, a rematch is still to take place. More recently in April, the Lincoln man needed only 25 seconds to see off Pudsey heavyweight Lee Mountford, a solitary right cross inflicting the damage. Content in the knowledge that he almost stopped Hobson before, Swaby isn’t planning on leaving it to the referee’s scorecard this time.

“I’m a lot more accurate than I was then. I know the guy I fought last time (Lee Mountford) wasn’t particularly anything to talk about, but nevertheless my accuracy was right on the button. Straight on top of the temple and down he went which is why his legs were twitching all over the place. I’d never seen anything like that before (Mounford’s legs were twitching violently and the giant could barely support his own weight as his trainer had to assist him in gingerly exiting the ring). I know I’ve got the power as well as the sharpness and the accuracy so he (Hobson) is going to have to be careful otherwise I’m going to turn his world upside down,” Swaby warned.

Swaby jumped to the head of the queue for Hobson after a proposed fight with touted cruiserweight golden boy David Haye mysteriously failed to materialise in what was scheduled as a final eliminator. So who was kidding who?

“It was made, the contracts were signed, simple as that. Then all of a sudden they wanted to move it back by around 4 weeks. I was a bit annoyed because it messed up my social plans and various things but nevertheless I was prepared to do it. But then they came back and said that they were pulling out. This was the decision of his people and not David himself at the time, so I heard. They said that the English title (that Haye was supposed to be putting on the line against Swaby) was not a reputable enough title for the fight to be made for. That was their excuse, if you can call it an excuse to be fair,” revealed Swaby.

“The whole point was that the fight was supposed to be an eliminator (for the British title) with the winner getting Hobson. They’ve shot themselves in the foot by doing that because he (Haye) still hasn’t been tested and that was the main reason as to why The Board picked me over him (for the right to challenge Mark Hobson),” he added.

Instead of entertaining Swaby, Haye took what many considered to be a significant step up in class when electing to face former IBF world champion “King” Arthur Williams in Reading earlier this month. Fears that the former world amateur silver medallist had taken an unnecessary gamble subsided after the Bermondsey quicksilver pounded the 39-year-old Williams to force a stoppage after three one-sided rounds. In doing so the 10-fight Haye had made a statement to every leading cruiserweight in Britain. Or so he thought. Swaby wasn’t impressed.

“I wasn’t at all (laughs). I actually went down to Reading for the fight and I wish I hadn’t, it was a complete waste of time. To be fair I’d never even heard of this guy (Arthur Williams) and he walked out wearing the biggest tracksuit ever. I thought he might have been ripped up underneath and looking good but you could tell in his face that he was battling old father time. But when he took his tracksuit off and he exposed his midriff it looked like he hadn’t done a sit up in the last 6 years let alone the last 6 weeks,” reflected Swaby, who was similarly unimpressed when the action got under way.

“At the end of the first round I thought ‘Why don’t I just go home now?’ because I could see exactly how this fight was going. In fact, I thought Haye was going to do an Audley Harrison and hold him up but he would have gotten ridiculed if he had as it was so obvious what the guy (Williams) was in there for. There was no competition for Haye on the day at all.

The annoying thing is that it’s not doing him (Haye), Boxing or the BBC any good. It’s a false economy. Yes, he’s got a marvellous record and he’s stopped everyone who’s been in there with him, but what have we learned from him? We’ve learned nothing and neither has he because he’s never been put under the cosh. He had one little downfall when he fought Mock and he climbed off the floor which was fair play to him. But apart from that he’s gone out there and smashed up everyone as quick as he can and because of the level of opponents he’s been put in with that’s what he’s been able to do. So, it’s a complete false economy for him and in the end I hope it doesn’t cost him too much when he does step up to face someone worthy of challenging him.”

Whatever the true merits of Haye’s win over Williams, an impressive victory over a former world champion was always going to bring wider acclaim than the prospect would have received had he managed to get by Swaby. Though the southpaw’s modest record has resulted in opponents possibly underestimating him in the past, on this occasion it arguably cost him a big fight. Upon attempting to tip-toe around this subject, Swaby stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Lets not beat around the bush. My record’s garbage but there’s a reason for it. If I’d have had the BBC and others backing me from the word go then I’m sure I’d have a 10-0 record with 10 stoppages. I’m now being promoted by somebody who cares. It’s as simple as that. In the early days I touted around for a manager but some people didn’t want to know. We went to Brendan Ingle and a few other places and they were all like, ‘Kick-boxers can’t box. Forget that. We don’t what to know. Sorry mate.’ Anyway, we went through Nat Basso in the end but he was at a point where he was just doing it for the fun of it as such. He got me a few fights and a few wins and then we stepped up in class a bit.”

Speaking of his defeats that include points reversals against Mark Hobson, Rob Norton, Kelly Oliver, Crawford Ashley, Gary Delaney as well as fringe heavyweight contenders Owen Beck and Steffen Nielsen, Swaby said: “That was my fault as I was on the learning curve of boxing. Then, bless him, Nat Basso passed away and I was left to my own devices and I became something of a journeyman. I was somebody who would go in there and wouldn’t get hurt. I got a decent bit of coin for it against pretty much the whole of the top 10 in British boxing (in the cruiserweight division). Not one of them hurt me by any degree but I learnt my school compared to Haye who hasn’t learnt to get through all this. He’s hardly been in the deep end and I’ve schooled myself by getting in there and going for it and I’ve come out relatively intact apart from my record, and some of the decisions there were quite questionable.”

Beating Mark Hobson will ensure that Swaby has climbed to the top of one mountain. But the straight-talking Lincoln man is determined to find another in his ultimate quest towards winning a world title. “It’s a Steve Robinson type thing,” he explained. “He had a poor record and all of a sudden he went bosh, bosh, bosh and turned it around and next day he’s world champion.”

Article posted on 24.05.2004

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