ESB Exclusive Interview With Pat Barrett, Former British and European Light welterweight Champ

24.07.06 - By James Slater: Pat Barrett is one of Britainís most talented boxers never to have won a world title. He was fast, skilful and had a hurtful punch. He turned pro in 1987 and, after only two years in the professional ranks, won the British light welterweight title. The following year he went one better and annexed the European title. This win was achieved, very impressively, by way of a fourth round KO over Efrem Calamati, in the defending championís home country of Italy.. The KO Pat inflicted on him marked the very first time Calamati was stopped in his career. Naturally, a world title fight was next for Barrett. Unfortunately, boxing up at welterweight, his chance came against one of boxingís worst spoilers. Manning Galloway, who was actually nicknamed ďThe SpoilerĒ, was a vastly experienced fighter, with over fifty bouts on his record going into the match with Pat. He won a close decision and retained his WBO welterweight belt. And despite winning plenty more fights - in Countries such as Belgium, America and, once again, Italy - Pat was, unfortunately, destined to be remembered as one of Britainís finest never to have managed to win a world title. As with Herol Graham, Pat Barrett was a talented boxer who was extremely unfortunate not to have ascended to the very top. He retired, on a two fight winning streak, in 1994. His overall record is a more than respectable 37 - 4 - 1 (28).

At a recent fight card, held in his hometown of Manchester, England, Pat very kindly gave me the telephone number of his gym so that I could conduct an interview with him at a later date. The following text recounts this interview.

James Slater. How old were you when you put boxing gloves on for the very first time?

Pat Barrett. I was seventeen years old.

J.S. What amateur experience did you have?

P.B. Not too much actually. I only had twenty-six amateur fights. I won about twenty-three or twenty-four of them.

J.S. You made your pro debut in 1987, with a stoppage win over Gary Barron. Any memories?

P.B. Yeah, I fought in Peterborough, I think it was. Believe it or not, when I first started boxing I wasnít set on becoming a champion at all. If Iíd started earlier it would have been a different story. But I was taking chances boxing, Iíd let openings develop and then knock the guy out. Back then, you only earned about £200 per fight - about £200 to £600, thatís all. I needed the money. Thankfully, Brian, my manager, was really good with me. He let me keep almost all of what I earned. Heís passed away now, God rest his soul, but Tommy Miller also handled me. All the big names worked withhim when they had up and coming fighters.

J.S. Then you realised you were good, of course. But you were beaten on points later that year by Paul Burke. What are you recollections of that fight?

P.B. I was devastated. But it made me a better fighter. I lost on points, I was never KOíd in my entire career. I was basically a lightweight when I fought Burke, at light welterweight.

J.S. You then went unbeaten in your next thirty-one bouts. And one of your finest moments came when you won the European Light welter title by KOíing Efrem Calamati in Italy. Do you agree with those who call this one of your best performances?

P.B. Yeah, I think that was my best ever display. Iíd also won the British title, less than a year before. There was talk of a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez at this time. I was at my absolute peak. I was knocking guys out in sparring. But it never happened. He fought someone else instead. I was fed up with defending my European title by now. I wanted a world title.

J.S. You fought in quite a lot of different countries. How did it feel boxing so far from home so often?

P.B. It was great experience. Thatís what Brian did with us as amateurs. He took us to America to fight, to get experience. I didnít care where I fought. It seemed natural being abroad. If you can fight, you can fight anywhere.

J.S. Then came your world title fight. Unfortunately, you had to fight Manning Galloway - a guy who was known as ďThe SpoilerĒ. How do you remember the fight?

P.B. I was demoralised before that fight. It was off, then on, then off again. It kept getting postponed. My belief in the fight happening was going. One time, it was postponed right at the press conference. I had another fight instead - it should have been a world title fight but it wasnít. It was a ten rounder instead. I was fed up.

J.S. As for the Galloway fight. Two judges had it close. Do you think you actually won it?

P.B. Yeah, I won. But I deserved to lose as well. They all told me after that I should have won. But I deserved to lose. I didnít box as good as I could have.

J.S. Then you moved up to light middleweight, were you comfortable at the new weight?

P.B. Well, you know what? I fought for another world title (the WBF belt) in Belgium, against a guy called Patrick Vungbo. I was definitely robbed in that fight. But at the weigh-in, no-one knew, but I weighed in with weights in the pockets of my tracksuit. I was only about ten stone five pounds really. But it was a definite home town decision. No doubt. And in my fight with Del Bryan, for the British welterweight title, I shouldíve won that fight as well. I had him KOíd in the eleventh round, but I didnít jump on him. I let him off the hook.

J.S. You then won your last two fights, but retired. You were only twenty-seven. Why so young?

P.B. Yeah, I made a comeback. I was training with Lennox Lewisí trainer John Davenport. But then I had some problems and went to prison. I wanted to make
a comeback after, but my manager told me not to. He said he could tell when a fighter doesnít have it anymore. The timing goes. I wanted to fight again, but didnít.

J.S. You are a trainer now, when did you start?

P.B. Since I retired from boxing. Brian asked me to become a trainer. I refused at first, but then I started helping him in the gym. I am a knowledgeable trainer. You have to give one hundred and fifty percent. My fighters donít realise the stuff I can do with them. Like pull-ups and other things. I keep in shape, and Iím sharp. I get them ready.

J.S. Are there any name fighters you are working with?

P.B. Yeah, weíve got Robin Reid in the gym, now that heís coming back. And Michael Jennings. Heís fighting Takaloo soon. Any time you want to come down to the gym and interview any of the fighters or anything, itís not a problem. (at this point, being delighted to have been given such an invite, I was absolutely thrilled. I certainly plan to take Pat up on his generous offer).

J.S. Thank you very much, Pat. That would be great. Can I ask you about Ricky Hatton? What do you think of him?

P.B. I think Ricky Hatton is a remarkable fighter. The only thing I would say about him, is he has no head movement. If I were training him, Iíd work on his defence. His offence is no problem, but for a fast fighter, he has nowhere near enough head movement.

J.S. Do you think he should be fighting at welterweight, or should he go back down to light welter?

P.B. He should definitely go back down. I told him so when I spoke to him. He doesnít have the advantages he had against the light welterweights. The guy he struggled with at welter, he would have destroyed at light welter.

J.S. I agree, Pat. He should move back down. But if he fought Floyd Mayweather, would he have a good chance?

P.B. You can never write Hatton off. He always has a chance with any fighter.

J.S. Would he have been the type of opponent youíd have liked to have fought? Heís in your weight class.

P.B. Itís styles. Me and Hatton are actually quite similar. Both boxer-punchers. Actually, he said he learnt his body punching from me. We sparred together, just before he turned pro. I wanted to train him, before he went with Billy Graham. When I say he learnt from me, I mean it complimentary. Itís a compliment to me. I have the clipping of the article where he said he learnt his body punching from me. Iím not being arrogant., or judgmental. But yes, he needs to learn defence. If you look at me, I havenít got a mark on my face. None of my fighters have a mark on their face. Thatís why, itís all about defence. I could do it defensively, and with my fists.

J.S. You certainly could, Pat. You knew how to handle yourself, as your more than respectable record shows. And of course, you were never knocked out.

P.B. Not once.

J.S. Pat, I want to thank you for your time. Itís been a pleasure and a privilege talking to you. Thanks a lot.

P.B. It hasnít been a problem, same to you.

Article posted on 24.07.2006

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