ANTHONY FARNELL: ‘WHEN HE’S UP AGAINST IT, YOU’LL SEE THE BEST OF MATTY FAGAN’
Ellesmere Port lightweight prospect Matty Fagan is hoping to tail his former amateur gym mate Paul Butler to British and Commonwealth titles, then beyond.
A former four time national junior champion (and seven time finalist), the 26 year old ex England amateur rep joined the pro ranks two years after Butler due to a spat of hand injuries. Nevertheless, he has already strolled to four wins and a reputation as one of the biggest ticket sellers in the nation.
This Saturday Fagan makes his first start of 2014, when he features in a six rounder on the big ‘Thoroughbreds’ promotion at Aintree Racecourse and BoxNation subscribers can watch the whole card live and exclusive in the UK by tuning into the Channel of Champions on Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch.546. Join at www.boxnation.com
Remaining tickets are available from Eventim on 0844 842 5005 or www.eventim.co.uk
In search of the inside track on what makes Fagan one of the brightest and most popular acts in the 135lb division, boxing writer Glynn Evans caught up with Anthony ‘Arnie’ Farnell, the former WBU light-middleweight champion, who has coached the Wirral lad for all four pro fights thus far.
Arnie says: “Matty Fagan was at the same amateur gym (Vauxhall Motors) as Paul Butler and it was Paul who encouraged him to come to me. I invited him along to see how we gelled – not every fighter suits every trainer – but Matty loved it here straight away.
And like Butler and all the other lads from Ellesmere Port who come to train or watch at our gym, Matty’s a really nice, level headed lad with no edge to him. Recently, I took him to train over in Marbella and people he’d just met, he’d be able to talk to all day. He gets along with everybody really. He’s very, very funny and very popular.
Given his amateur pedigree, I was expecting to find a nice, slick boxer but what instantly stood out was his size and strength. Matty’s not the tallest lightweight but he’s got massive calves and a massive chest. He absolutely storms through all the strength tests we do at the gym; the dips and pull-ups.
And on top of that, he’s a very skilful, fleet footed boxer. He had the amateur computer scoring off to a tee and beat a lot of top lads in the amateurs but I knew straight away that, with time, he’d develop into a good pro.
He’s got many of the attributes that Frankie Gavin has got plus he’s got more natural strength. Like Frankie, his timing and judgement of distance are fantastic and he’s capable of making good fighters miss by an inch then making them pay. He’s got a good jab, a good right hand but probably his best attribute is his brain. He’s class and a lot of the credit for that should go to his amateur coach Peter Phelan.
If anything, Matty adapted to the pros too quickly, changed his style too drastically. He thought he’d have to have a fight and, for his pro debut, he just stood and traded. He can stand and ‘have it’ with any lightweight in the country but I’ve stressed there’s no need for him to do that. Fans and the media aren’t as obsessed with stoppages as they used to be. As long as you box well and are easy on the eye, they’re generally satisfied.
In his most recent fights, Matty’s relaxed a lot more. He fights ‘in the pocket’ really well. I’m encouraging him to stick with getting his jab out and firing the right hand. Previously, he liked to get his hooks off too soon. But he’s more than capable of picking opponents apart, using his boxing ability and making things easier for himself.
What gives me the confidence that he’s heading for the major titles is the manner in which he handles top lads, heavier lads, in sparring. I’ve put him in with the likes of Matty Hall, Mark Thompson, Ronnie Heffron, Dean Byrne and, recently, John Murray. Matty’s handled himself really well on every occasion.
On Saturday night at Aintree, I’m hoping to see him stick behind the jab, get his combinations off, then get away! I don’t want him standing around for the opponent to hit him back. I want to see him stepping to the side, always finishing off on the jab.
Now he needs the right fights at the right time and Frank Warren is the man to deliver that for us, just as he’s delivered it for Paul Butler. Personally, I’d like to see Matty Fagan operating at eight and ten round level sooner rather than later. Young prospects can rush at four and six round level, especially if they go a round down early on.
He spars eight rounds straight off with top lads, heavier lads, easily and he’s had a lot of quality amateur experience, remember. After perhaps two more fights, I’d like to see him in an Area title fight or something similar.
When he’s up against it big, you’ll see the best of Matty Fagan. At the level he now operates at, he’s happy just to make opponents miss. Against better kids, he’ll make ‘em pay. Eighteen months from now we’ll be ready to win the British title, then go from there. Everything after is a bonus.”