Interview With Esham Pickering
22.01.04 - By Gavin Macleod: For Newark Super-bantamweight Esham Pickering, the last twelve months have seen him go through somewhat of a renaissance period. A period of resurgence which was capped off in brilliant fashion last Friday night when he won the vacant European Super-bantamweight title via a tenth round stoppage of tough Italian Vincenzo Gigliotti.
Article posted on 22.01.2004
It was in the year 2000 that Esham, 27, had his career written off by many after suffering a first round knockout loss when challenging WBO bantamweight title holder Mauricio Martinez. The loss was a huge setback for Pickering, currently 25-3 (9), but he has since put the defeat down to problems making the 118lb weight limit.
Pickering came back in 2002, after a quiet 2001, and aimed to re-establish himself at Super-bantamweight. He got off to a bad start as he got robbed of a clear victory over Alejandro Monzon, but this did not dent his confidence or drive one bit, it has had quite the opposite effect in fact. After a Ďkeep busyí points win over journeyman Clive Allen at the end of 2002 Pickering was all set to take 2003 by storm.
In February 2003 the classy Pickering won the Commonwealth Super bantamweight with a 5th round stoppage over the Kenyan Duncan Karanja and followed this up by adding the vacant British crown in July by stopping the very durable Brian Carr in four. Then came a seventh round knockout of Alfred Tetteh in October, which put Esham in prime position to challenge for the European title.
This challenge took place this past Friday (the 16th of January) and Pickering proved to be a class above his opponent before blasting home a big left hook to win in the tenth round and to set Esham up for some potentially even bigger fights in 2004.
I had the pleasure of speaking to the newly crowned European champion this afternoon to gather his thoughts on his title winning effort and his future as a recognised beltholder.
GM: Firstly Esham, congratulations on winning the European title on Friday night. I expect itís been a fairly busy weekend for you?
EP: Well yeah it has been. After the fight we went to a brilliant restaurant called Anams for a meal and then we went back to the hotel and Jess Harding (Pickeringís promoter) had got a tape, so I watched the fight and then my friend drove me back to Sheffield. Got some sleep and then Iíve just been going to see everybody, all my friends and family in Newark.
Iíve been on the phone doing interviews, and radio, Iíve got some radio tonight, some TV and local stuff and thatís all Iíve been doing since the fight really.
I get back in the gym tomorrow, cause I wanna keep on top of my game and I just wanna box as soon as possible and carry on on a good run
GM: When you finally sat down and watched the fight, what did you make of your own performance?
EP: Well when I boxed Alfred Tetteh the fight before, I had a bad first round and I wanted to make sure I had a good first round this time. In the first three rounds I thought I won comfortably and outboxed him (Gigliotti), then the fourth was pretty even and the fifth and sixth I lost, I got a bit complacent I think and I chucked them rounds away. It wasnít a fact of him getting stronger I think I just chucked them rounds away. But it was good, because I was boxing within myself all the way through the fight and I had another couple of gears to step up and then I caught him in the tenth with the big left hook, it was just a reaction shot but it was a heavy shot on top of the head.
When he got up I think he knew, heís been around the block, I think he knew what was gonna happen. He knew that I was gonna really go for him and let the punches go so I think his experience there told because he knew that I was going to start letting some punches go. It was good that I boxed within myself and had another two gears but Iím not that impressed with my fight I know there is a lot more to come and like I say I got a bit complacent in the middle of the fight, but itís good because that guy was the mandatory challenger for the European title so he was a good opponent and a tough opponent so Iím pleased I got a victory.
GM: This victory was your fourth stoppage win in a row. For someone who was never really known as a big puncher do you feel that you are hitting harder now since you moved up from Bantamweight?
EP: I think Iíve always had a decent punch on me, well Iíve been told that by the bigger guys Iíve sparred with as theyíve said I can hit a bit. I think itís just down to the experiences Iíve had and now Iím a little bit more vicious and Iíve got more venom in what I do.
When I went over to Gran Canaria and boxed a guy called Alejandro Monzon (a fight which Esham lost on disgraceful decision) I took it at two days notice and went over there to box him and I stood him on his head. I won eleven of the twelve rounds and totally outboxed him but what I lacked was firepower and I didnít take it to him and I didnít have enough hunger in my belly. I think thatís one of the things that has helped me get the knockout now.
Iíve always had a decent punch and even now people will tell you that Iíve always hit hard itís just that everything has come together a bit more now and the experiences Iíve been through have helped me. Itís not all about having a hard shot itís about your timing and your accuracy and all of that has come together now.
GM: Now that you have this win and the European title, where do you go from here?
EP: Well I trust my management with John Ingle and Jess (Harding) and Iím just keeping my feet on the ground. I wanna take each fight as it comes and Iím hoping to get a European defence at the end of March or early April time, possibly in Sheffield or Bradford, against somebody in the top ten, so that is the next step.
I want to prove myself domestically as well as European wise so I would like to fight Michael Hunter if he carries on winning because I think Iím going to have to give up my British title because a date has been set for that. I have to box within a certain limit which I think is for the beginning of March and I think Michael Hunter is going to fight Roy Rutherford for that title and hopefully that will be a bigger fight with me and him (Hunter) if he comes through that and thatís what Iím looking for, a bigger domestic fight. So instead of boxing for it now it makes more sense to build it up a little.
I rate Michael Hunter and I think heís a bit of a handful and I think heís a good fighter but obviously I feel like I could do a number on him but Iíd rather it was built up to a bigger fight first. The same goes for Wayne McCullough although I donít think he needs me right now. I think I need to prove myself in a couple of fights first and hopefully before the end of the year I can box either Wayne or even Hunter and then move onto bigger things from that and move onto a world title hopefully after that, but one fight at a time.
GM: If you can accomplish all of the above would you be looking for a world title shot by the end of 2004?
EP: Well I think Iím starting to prove that Iím worthy of that (a world title shot) I just know that Iíve got a lot more to come and I want to prove myself more and I want to be in some good exciting fights and prove myself because that is important to me. I also want to make a few quid off the game as well, thatís the plan and I feel that I have the skills and the attributes to do it. Iíve got the moves, Iíve got the power and itíll all tell on the nights I need to prove myself. In the next couple of fights I think I can put myself in with a great chance of a world title fight by the end of the year or early next year.
GM: If you were to go for a world title shot then which avenue would you look to go down.
EP: I think if itís a world title fight, for good money, then any of the belts, but I think Iíll be concentrating on the WBA champion Mahyar Monshipour from France. Iíve never seen a tape of the guy, but that is the route we are going to take I think. But then again any belt I can get an opportunity for Iím willing.
The good thing is my team believe in me. We never got a tape of the last guy until five oíclock on the Saturday. He was supposed to bring a tape and we were supposed to exchange tapes, but we got the impression that heís seen a tape of me and not brought his tape so I couldnít see him. Luckily John Ingle did a great job for me and got hold of a tape and we had a look at him which put the icing on the cake for that fight.
The same thing happened with the Alfred Tetteh fight, where I got a tape but it was a terrible copy, you couldnít even see the fight. Same as Duncan Karanja, I didnít even have a tape of him, didnít know what to expect, so if Iím beating guys I know nothing about then I think when I start having a look at the opponents itís going to make it all the better for me.
GM: If there was ever the opportunity to move up for a big fight against either Michael Brodie or Scott Harrison at featherweight would you be interested?
EP: Iíve never really been one to shout out names, but if there was one name that I would shout out then it wouldnít be Wayne McCullough or Michael Hunter it would be Scott Harrison. Iíve always fancied that fight with Scott Harrison.
Iíve also sparred with Michael Brodie about four years ago (in preparation) for when he defended his British title. I had to spar southpaw and I do switch, but orthodox is my more comfortable way. To box southpaw for six to eight rounds is a bit uncomfortable but I had no trouble with him.
Like I say Iíd love to box Scott Harrison and that is my plans further down the line to move up to featherweight next year, but if the opportunity came up against Scott Harrison then I would love that fight. I really rate Scott Harrison, heís a strong fighter very fit. I think heís very big for the weight and I think heís struggling to make weight but heís got to stay at the weight cause he is champion and if he can keep winning then that is who I would be aiming for.
GM: When are you looking to fight again?
EP: A defence of the European, hopefully in Sheffield or Bradford again, it may even go to Nottingham. I just want to keep busy. I have a contract with Jess Harding for four fights in twelve months so before the end of the year Iím going to have another three fights.
Iíd be interested to hear Wayneís views on a fight with me because I know heís looking for bigger fights, but I think the fight with me would be the perfect fight for him to get back into it. When I have had another few fights I think itíll be perfect for him. Also if heís had one (warm-up fight) then I think heíll be ready.
GM: Well I know it is a fight that the public would love to see. Esham it has been a pleasure speaking to you and everyone at British Eastside wishes you all the best for the future and hopefully you can realise your world title ambitions. Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us.
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