Andreas Evangelou Interview
Anfield stars Andreas and Chris Evangelou make their debuts for new promoter Frank Warren on the big Copper Box Arena show on Saturday 30th November, headlined by European Heavyweight Champion Dereck Chisora, plus British and Commonwealth Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders, unbeaten super-middleweight star Frank Buglioni, plus Bradley Skeete v Colin Lynes for the Vacant English Welterweight title.
Tickets from £40 are available now from Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or eventim.co.uk
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Name: Andreas Evangelou
Born: North London
Family background: I’m the second eldest of four. Three boys and a younger sister. My younger brother Chris is also a pro fighter. Today, I live with him in Edmonton. I’m single and I’ve no kids.
Trade: For the past six years, I’ve worked as a youth mentor for Enfield Council as part of the Youth Offenders Service.
I work with teenage kids, mostly around 15 or 16 years old, who’ve been expelled from schools. We work on building their self-esteem back up, give anger management classes and also incorporate a bit of boxing. It’s all general well-being stuff.
Nickname: ‘The Ace’. It’s my initials….A.C .E
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? From a young age, dad always got us up in the middle of the night to watch Tyson or other big fights from the US.
What do you recall of your amateur career? Around the age of 12, my elder brother Phodis began boxing and I followed him to the Haringey ABC in my mid teens. I later got a lot of experience training and sparring at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym in Hollywood and at gyms in New York City.
I also did sparring in Europe and sparred the Japanese number one heavyweight in Japan. However, because of work commitments, I didn’t actually start competing until I joined Dad’s Edmonton Eagles gym in my mid 20s.
My main coach there was a guy called Chilas Paulo Muhongo who also trained me for my first eight pro fights.
I had 11 amateur bouts and I won nine. At club level, I represented the country twice, winning a gold medal at the Sweden BoxCup. That was my amateur highlight. There were actually four rings in the hall at the tournament. Chris boxed in his final simultaneously and also won the gold medal.
I also got to the London final but felt I was badly robbed against a good fighter called Andy Fray. In the North-West Divs I got a good win against a kid called Aaron Morgan from Islington who I now believe is part of the England set-up.
I enjoyed my amateur career but I do regret not starting earlier. Still, I feel all the quality sparring I’ve done has played a big part in helping me to learn my craft.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? At the age of 27, I knew I had to make a decision to either stay amateur for life or give the pros a shot. Chris was already pro and I was sparring a lot of good (pro) guys. None of them gave me a real tough time and I was certainly never hurt. I held my own with all of them and knew I was still learning and improving so I took the plunge.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by my father Costas and I’ve just signed a promotional deal with Frank Warren. I was previously promoted by Matchroom.
I’ve just switched trainers and now I’m coached by Don Charles at ‘My Gym’ in Finchley. In a short time period, Don has really changed my style. I always had very good footwork from Paolo but he’s got me setting myself and landing really spiteful punches. I always had punching power but, before going to Don, I’d not been shown how to use it fully.
I may add a conditioner now I’m with Don but I’m okay with my nutrition because I’m a qualified sport’s nutritionist.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I train six days a week at ‘My Gym’, taking Sunday off. I love jogging and do 20-25 miles a week and I do hill sprints plus track work.
Once a week, I do a yoga class and I also swim a couple of times a week, usually on the weekend. I’m very self-motivated. I don’t require a coach to push me to get into condition, I just need someone to teach me skills.
At the boxing gym, I work with Don, one-to-one, for about two hours a day. Regarding training, Don’s an artist and he says I’m a good canvas to paint on. The picture’s looking good!
I do all the usual stuff; skipping, shadow boxing, bag and pad work. Don puts on this very thick body bag and we’ll do six to eight rounds of pads with him. He’s a huge man who constantly walks you down so it’s very draining.
Sparring gives me a huge adrenalin rush. Fighters are addicted to fighting and that’s the closest we get in the gym. Also, because my life is so hectic, I really love jogging. It’s my only time to myself. Shadow boxing is least enjoyable. It’s a bit boring.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m a switch hitter. I move a lot for my weight. My previous coach trained me how to box back foot so I’ve got the footwork to get myself out of danger. Now Don has got me more aggressive, fighting off the front foot. I’ve got a good right hand and a good left hook.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Because I switch, my balance isn’t all that great at the moment. I’ve touched down when off balance a few times and lost 10-8 rounds as a consequence. So I certainly need to perfect that.
Recently, Don Charles has instilled a more professional style. I’m more set, more stubborn with my punches. Previously, I’d been taught only to win on points.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? I used to get tired boxing three rounds in the amateurs and would think: ‘How on earth do they fight ten, twelve rounds?’
It’s all about pacing. Inside the ring, I’m a thinker who likes to set traps. The pros certainly hit far harder and there’s no head guard to cushion the impact. You have to harden up pretty quickly.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? I’ve sparred loads of top, top fighters such as Nathan Cleverly, Ola Afolabi, Danny McIntosh, Frank Buglioni, Tony Conquest, Roberto Garcia who fought Antonio Margarito….
Nathan was the fastest. Ola had real presence and ring craft. He showed no respect when you hit him. Those two really stood out.
All time favourite fighter: Roy Jones Jnr. I loved his style. He made everything look so easy. He could do stuff no one else could and was always in great shape.
All time favourite fight: Tyson-Holyfield I. I was supporting Holyfield but no one gave him a chance and even I didn’t think he’d win. When he pulled it off, I had a real good feeling. Like me, Evander’s a Christian.
Which current match would you most like to see made? It’s probably a year too late but I’d still like to see Mayweather-Pacquiao. Pacman still has the best chance of beating him. I’m still curious as to what would happen.
What is your routine on fight day? I sleep on as long as I can, until at least 11. I’ll have porridge and banana for breakfast then lie down for a bit and watch a motivational film like ‘Braveheart’ or ‘Gladiator’. That helps relax me. Then I’ll try to take another nap to fully charge me up before I leave for the venue.
If I have to weigh-in, I’ll eat immediately after, something like brown rice and some meat and veg. I also have a few Jaffa cakes and Powerade drinks to get good energy.
In the changing room, I’m a mix of nerves and excitement. The waiting is the worst part. Once I get my kit on, I’m more relaxed. I’m always confident. I convince myself that I’ve done enough in training.
Entrance music: Previously, I’ve had scores from epic films and a rap from L’il Wayne. Next fight, I’m coming out to something from Grhymey, a UK hip hop and rap artist who went to school with me.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? Ultimately, to be a world champion. I see others who’ve made it and think: ‘Why not me?’ I’m prepared to put the necessary work in.
I’m hoping to be ready to challenge for the British title by the end of 2014, then fight for the European a year after that and the world title a year later. Sure, it’ll be tough but I don’t see why it can’t happen. I believe I’ve got what’s needed. I don’t do relationships. Boxing is my number one priority.
How do you relax? I’ve played the piano for 18 years. It relaxes me. Sometimes I play on the day of a fight. I’ve also got a German Shepherd called Clay who jogs with me and I like spending time with my niece and nephew.
Football team: I don’t watch much football. I like Newcastle. My friend supports them.
Read: I actually studied Classical Civilisation at college so I like Roman and Greek stuff, The Iliad, Odyssey…
I also like autobiographies. Recently, I’ve read Joe Calzaghe’s, Ricky Hatton’s and Arnold Schwarzenegge’s.
Music: Anything with a piano in. I also like Queen, 80s music and the odd hip hop track.
Films/TV: I like battle films, sword against shield. I loved Gladiator and also Sea Biscuit. On TV, I love The Office and enjoy cooking programmes.
Aspiration in life: I’m quite entrepreneurial. I’d like to construct an impressive business portfolio and then use the gains to put something back into the community. Make a difference. Boxing is a good way to get your name out there.
Motto: The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle!