Rhys Evans Interview
Blackwood lightweight talent Rhys Evans will be keen to emulate the rave reviews that elder brother Craig has been receiving, when he crashes the professional code this Saturday.
A multiple British junior champion and captain of Wales, 20 year old Rhys begins the pilgrimage which he hopes will lead to major titles in a four rounder against Tamworth’s experienced Matt Seawright.
Boxing writer Glynn Evans caught up with him last Saturday.
Remaining tickets are available from the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena Box Office on 02920 224 488 or Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or www.eventim.co.uk
Watch the whole ‘Red Mist’ event – headlined by the unmissable WBO World Light-Heavyweight collision between Nathan Cleverly and unbeaten Russian KO king Sergey Kovalev, plus Gary Buckland’s British Super-Featherweight title defence against Stephen Smith and Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight Champion Ovill McKenzie’s rematch against Enzo Maccarinelli – live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546) from 7pm. Join at www.boxnation.com
Name: Rhys Evans
Family background: I’m the youngest of three boys and still live with my parents by Blackwood (in Gwent). My eldest brother Christian had 17 amateur bouts and won a Welsh (junior) title and my other brother Craig, also a lightweight, is unbeaten in nine as a pro.
Craig also won a bronze at the European schoolboys plus the Welsh and British senior titles whilst still a teenager. He boxed the double Olympic champion (Vasyl) Lomachenko from the Ukraine at the World Seniors in Milan.
Trade: I’m a qualified plasterer but I quit my job to focus on the boxing.
Nickname: I’m just Rhys Evans Junior.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? My granddad had a few amateur fights that he used to talk about and my dad was friends with Joe Calzaghe when I was a youngster. I guess I was about eight when I first started to show an interest.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I started out at the Fleur De Lys club where I was looked after by Roy Agland (the deceased 1947 British ABA middleweight champion). When I was about 14 or 15 I moved on to the Pontypool ABC where I was coached by Mark James.
I had 43 amateur bouts and lost just three. An Irish kid beat me in the British juniors, I lost once in the NABCs and was robbed blind against a Russian at the Tammer tournament over in Finland.
I actually won all of my first 19 bouts and was Welsh champion every year I entered, six or seven times. I won British schoolboy and junior titles plus silver at that Tammer tournament. I was captain of Wales and must have won about 20 vests and was selected to go to Team GB up in Sheffield. However, I got a really bad hand injury which put me out for a while and, when it recovered, I decided to go pro instead.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I enjoyed the amateur game but, after returning from the injury, I started going to Tony Borg’s pro gym in Newport to spar with (British professional champions) Lee Selby and Garry Buckland. Tony said the slower pace of the pros suited my style better.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by Frank Warren, promoted by Frank Warren Promotions and coached by Tony Borg at the St Joseph’s gym in Newport.
I’ve worked with a lot of trainers but Tony is definitely one of the best. For a start, he’s very strict and gets you super fit. If you don’t listen, you’re out the door, no matter how talented you are. And if you’re ever late, you really suffer the consequences.
Right now, Tony takes care of all of my training requirements but, as I climb up the ladder, I might get a strength and conditioning coach to help specifically with that.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? For my debut, I’ve been training solid for ten weeks. Often I’ll run twice a day, depending what my weight is like. I’ll have one seven or eight mile run, then one shorter one later.
I train at St Jo’s from Monday to Friday and also on Sunday mornings. I turn up at 11 o’clock and start out with 20 minutes on the running machine. Next, I’ll shadow box for two-three minute rounds before doing four hard rounds on the heavy bag.
After that, it’s usually four on the pads, two on the (speed) ball, then two eight minute circuits which involve holding the plank, star jumps, burpees, press ups, tuck jumps, squat thrusts, sit ups….
I’ll shake off with a bit of shadow boxing then a sauna and a shower. All told, I’ll train for almost two hours.
My favourite part is pads because I get to show off my skills. The worst bit is running up and down the stairs, doing press ups at the bottom. The plank’s not much fun either.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m exactly the same as Floyd Mayweather; a classy counter puncher who likes to pick his shots. I’m mostly orthodox but I can switch. I like to throw lots of combinations. Left hook to the body is probably my best shot. I stopped quite a few in the amateurs.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? My defence. Any one can throw punches but defence is far harder to master. You never stop learning defence. I like to practise dropping and rolling; throwing shots with my hands down.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The pace. It‘s much slower in the pros. That said, I do a lot of sparring with Gary Buckland and that’s always at an extremely high pace!
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Joe Calzaghe. He used to chase me around the ring, messing about, when I was a youngster. He had the best defence and this constant movement which he told me was just natural. No one ever taught him.
All time favourite fighter: Floyd Mayweather. He’s the best, the King!
All time favourite fight: Barrera-Morales I. A war from start to finish.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Floyd Mayweather against Adrien Broner but it’ll never happen. If not that, Mayweather-Pacquaio to finish off all the talking. Mayweather beats him easy.
What is your routine on fight day? I try to get a good night’s sleep in the evening before. I’ll eat loads of protein throughout the day but I basically like to be on my own, listening to my earphones, just chilling.
I’m pretty relaxed through the day. Then, when I get to the arena, I’m ‘on it’. In the changing rooms, I like to get my shorts on early and do some pads a few minutes before I’m called out. Then it’s off to work.
This is a great bill for my debut and I expect I’ll be on early. I don’t suffer too badly with nerves because mentally I always know I’m going to win. If anyone ever knocked me down, I know it’d just make me more feisty!
Entrance music: ‘Audio’ by Egyptian
What are your ambitions as a boxer? I intend going all the way and I believe I’ve the potential to do it. I didn’t quit my job for no reason!
How do you relax? I like to get the missus to run around for me! I like to take her out but I only drink water. Plenty of time for the booze after I’ve retired. I’m totally committed to my boxing career.
I’ve also just bought eight chickens and I eat all the eggs they lay every day.
Football team: Like Craig, I’m a huge Cardiff City fan. Last season I only missed about 10 away games. My debut coincides with our return to the Premiership, away to West Ham. I’m having a gold bluebird (old club emblem) on my bright pink ring shorts.
Read: I don’t really read anything.
Music: I like Usher
Films/TV: Twin Town is my favourite film. On TV I’ll watch anything bar the soaps. I particularly like Home Alone.
Aspiration in life: To live a chilled life …..forever!
Motto: Train hard, fight easy.