Tony Dodson Comes Out Firing Ahead Of June Clash

24.05.04 - By Elliot Worsell: Proud as punch British super middleweight champion Tony Dodson is a man out to prove the doubters wrong when he locks horns with the much-hyped former world amateur starlet Carl Froch on June 2nd in front of a prospective sell out Nottingham crowd. The 23-year-old former England amateur representative, has been straining at the leash in recent years to unearth the Ďrealí Tony Dodson, a figure only seen at itís full potential on sporadic occasions. Against respected US contender Brian Barbosa, the hard-hitting Scouser dazzled from the first round to the finale. One fight later he struggled to a narrow points victory over the awkward and knowledgeable Belgian Mike Algoet. Chuck in some disappointing and unfortunate reversals to eastern European tough man Andrey Davtyan, Polish unbeaten Albert Rybacki and a cuts loss to Frenchman Pierre Moreno, and you have a real boxing enigma in pursuit of some answers.

What Dodson lacks in luck and consistency he makes up for in heart, grit and determination. Last time out in November against Allan Foster, the night he won his coveted title, the John Rice trained fighter duked it out with his Scottish based opponent for ten hard fought rounds, before taking over in the 11th and disposing of his opponent with a classy selection of punches. The Ďrealí Tony Dodson seemed to rear its head in the penultimate session, much to the displeasure of his co-challenger.

On June 2nd, against an accomplished amateur and reigning commonwealth titleholder in Carl Froch, Dodson is only too aware that unless he brings it all out and performs to the potential he has only teased fight fans with in the past, he faces the prospect of adding a fourth loss to his 16-3-1 (10 KOís) career ledger. Not that defeat has ever deterred a strong willed individual such as Tony Dodson in the past.

"Iíve been beaten in the past, and Iíve been put down in the past, I know what itís like." Dodson explained. "Carl doesnít. Heís being built up by the BBC for one almighty fall. In my opinion Froch is as good now as heís ever going to be. Heís pretty much the same fighter now as he was in the amateurs, itís just that heís a bit more mature and has got a bit more strength behind his shots. Iíve always had lights out power, whereas heís still trying to develop it. Over half of my amateur fights ended with the other kid flat on their back, and as a pro I have a 50% KO record against decent opposition. I put people to sleep when I stop them."

Two decent amateurs will be marking their territory on June 2nd, and Dodson, a man who turned pro at the freakishly young age of 19, believes he is now beginning to settle down into the professional ranks and is reaping the rewards of a newly discovered maturity.

"When I turned pro I was a young kid who thought he could take on the world and do whatever the hell I liked. I had to face a few setbacks early in my career and had to grow up real fast or risk having a decent pro career. Just look at Martin Power, who fought last Thursday at the York Hall. That lad was in the same class as me at the schoolboy championships, and look how our careers have played out. Heís looked at as a young up ní comer who has got all the time in the world. Iím the same age, but mentally and physically I am a big, strong man."

Dodsonís opponent for the hugely anticipated rumble in Nottingham, Carl Froch, is a man who, following a glittering amateur pedigree, turned professional and has been leading his dance to the backing track of the BBC, a network that have invested a lot of money into the progression of the self proclaimed ĎCobraí. With interest, comes pressure and expectancy, so says the reigning British kingpin.

"I donít think Carlís handling the pressure very well at all. Heís coming across as really arrogant, and all the people Iíve spoken to, not just in Liverpool, but all around the boxing world, do not like his attitude or the way he carries himself. If all this hype and little adverts are supposed to be appealing to a new set of fans, I donít think itís working. He looked really nervous the other night at the Haye fight, and was stuttering his way through the lines he was supposed to say. To me it looked as if he was lacking confidence, and needs to be built up into something heís not to believe in himself. Get me in front of a camera and Iíll show you a calm, confident person who doesnít need cheerleaders to build my self esteem up."

"Heís had the same kind of problem as an amateur too. Problems getting up for fights, and not fancying the job. Having to be dragged out of the changing room into the ring by other people because he didnít want to fight. Iíd fight anyone on the planet, because Iíve got bottle, and you canít buy heart, determination and bottle, no matter how many BBC adverts get made about you."

Thereís no doubting the influence the BBC have had on this intriguing pairing. Making sure they hype and promote the fight at every opportunity possible, the only factor that infuriates Tony Dodson, is the angle at which the contest is being publicised. Dodson may be a frustrating enigma inside the ring, but heís certainly not an invisible one.

"Itís all been a bit annoying for me really. Itís all been him, him, him, but why? Iím the champion, heís the challenger. The BBC boys can argue all day along about that fact, but thatís exactly what it is, a fact. The British title is the belt on the line on June 2nd, and I have it in my possession, and still will do after the fight. Why should I have to put up with seeing his ugly mug on TV every time I switch on to watch the boxing? Iím made up that the posters will be getting altered, at last, thatís great news and fair play to Mick Hennessy, but Iíll tell you now, all the doubters, Carl Froch will pay on June 2nd at whatever cost."

In Frochís last contest he warranted the respect of most in the boxing trade as he fought tooth and nail with rugged commonwealth champion Charles Adamu, claiming a unanimous decision at the fightís conclusion. Froch was tagged repeatedly by the buoyant championís right hand, but nevertheless showed impressive fighting spirit to reach the finishing line with a respected title wrapped around his waist.

"Froch did what he had to do that night, and fair enough he won his first professional title against a decent opponent. I didnít pay too much attention to the fight, but could see just by watching a few rounds that Adamu was an underrated fighter and that Carl was slightly disappointed at not fighting me, and that affected his performance slightly. Carlís the same fighter he is now as he was back in the amateurs anyway, every time I watch him itís the same old Carl Froch in there, with the same old strengths and the same old weaknesses."

With so much verbal ping-pong being exchanged pre-fight, this fight has enough sizzle to it to whet the appetite of even the most ardent fight critic. Froch, the young, brash up ní comer with a big reputation to live up to, pitted against Dodson, the livewire champion with points to prove and a title to grasp on to. Hitchcock couldnít have written it any better. With all great narratives, naturally some form of conflict arises. This bout on June 2nd is no different. As far as the champion is concerned, thereís serious bad blood involved.

"Heís made it that way. He never comes across as a nice person and has absolutely no manners whatsoever. One thing my mother and father taught me was that manners cost nothing, and that you should have respect for everyone and that in turn they will respect you. I havenít seen any evidence of this from Carl. He was extremely unfair to David Haye the other night, and Iím good friends with David and know he was not best pleased. Heís over stepped the mark many times, by saying Iíll be an easy fight and that heís an odds on world champion. Iíll teach him what respect is all about on the night when heís looking up at me in the ring."

Dodsonís father, Eric, can often be seen scurrying around frantically in the corner when Tony fights. A role that Dodson himself cannot appreciate enough. Along with trusted trainer John Rice, Dodsonís career has been carved by two men he shares a great deal of respect for.

"Simply put, my Dad has made me what I am. Without my Dad there would be no fights, no fighter, and not very much money on the table. I owe him absolutely everything, and he knows this. John Rice has been with me since I was eleven years old and knows me better than anyone. Heís a great trainer to have around and treats me exactly the same as everyone else in the gym. Along with John Naylor I have two down to earth characters who are always keeping my feet on the ground and teaching me to appreciate what I have."

Dodsonís preparations for this June 2nd clash took a slight setback when the British Boxing Board of Control rejected the Liverpudlianís proposal for a tune up fight on May 1st in Cardiff. Dodson had planned to fight on that particular date weeks in advance, yet the Board seemingly had other ideas. As it stands, it will now have been some six months since Dodson threw a punch in a competitive title fight situation.

"That really pissed me off to be honest, because Iím a fighter and all I want to do is get in there and fight. The layoff doesnít bother me at all though really. Iíve done it before, been out of the ring ages then come back and feel class on the night. This fight means so much to me, and you could keep me away from the ring for years and Iíd still want to get in there and do the business on Froch. I personally donít think this fight will come down to whoís the better boxer or who hits the hardest, though I maintain that I do, I think it will come down to who wants it most, who has the biggest heart and who is prepared to give their all and go out on their shield."

Which moves us on nicely to the chief protagonist in this fight. The unfathomable British champion, part Jekyll, part Hyde, part Bill Murray in ĎGroundhog Dayí, is a fighter that requires substantial dosages of intense preparation, focused mental state and a pinch of luck to bring out the best in this mysterious mask of intrigue. So often class, so often infuriating, and more than often falling short of his potential, Dodson is well aware that thereís no room for his supporting character, alter ego on June 2nd.

"Iím always in shape for my fights and always carry great game plans into them, but sometimes the styles just donít gel or I fail to feel any sort of spark in the ring. Thatís just boxing I suppose. I was young and would go through the emotions a lot. Iíve changed a great deal since then and am beginning to feel like a mature, responsible adult rather than an immature, eager to please young boy."

"I was a light heavyweight as an amateur and I really have to be dedicated to my boxing to get myself down to the super middleweight limit. Today I walked out of the gym at 12 stone 1lb, what does that tell you? Iím in brilliant shape and will be as fit in the first round as I will be in the last. I know Carl struggles to make the weight, and I also know how hard that can be when you have a hard, long fight up against a big man such as myself."

At 23 years of age, and with a body still in the stages of maturing, Dodson knows that should he upset the formbooks and defeat Carl Froch in front of his hometown fans, the world will be well and truly at his feet. A down to earth, likeable family man with a supportive girlfriend and young child to look out for, Dodson has had to grow up fast, and now looks to reap some rewards for his many sacrifices.

"Obviously when I beat Carl, there will be a lot of people talking about me, but to be honest I donít want to be shot into the big league yet. I am simply not experienced enough at the moment to jump up and tango with the big boys. I am a realist and am man enough to admit that fact unlike Carl, who is dreaming of bigger things at the moment without actually appreciating the smaller picture. This fight with Froch will restore the praise I had when I demolished Brian Barbosa, and it will repay the faith Barry Hearn has had in me throughout my career."

The issue of Barry Hearnís Ringside/Matchroom stable, and whether Dodson, should he win in June, will still be tied down to defend his title on Sky TV is an interesting situation. The BBC are naturally looking to build the reputation of Carl Froch because the Nottingham fighter has penned a long term deal with Hennessy Sports, and fights frequently on their network. On the other hand, Dodson doesn't.

"No one has approached me at all at the moment. I havenít even spoken to anyone from the BBC. I was watching my mate Courtney Fry in Bristol the other week on a BBC show, and I was completely ignored. If the BBC had any wits about them they would have pulled me over and got me to say a few things on TV to build the interest in this fight. Iím not too bothered though; the talking can be done after the fight. The BBC are so far up Carlís backside to even dream about me beating him that theyíve totally ignored me. I can tell you now; there will be a lot of surprised people when that fight with Froch is finished. Iím going to beat him and thatís a promise. If the BBC want me to then defend on their network thatís their problem. When the time comes, in the words of Jerry Maguire, Ďshow me the moneyí."

Article posted on 24.05.2004

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