COLIN LYNES: ‘I’VE BEEN FOCUSING ON WHAT I CAN STILL DO, NOT SKEETE. HOPEFULLY, I SHOULD STILL HAVE TOO MUCH FOR HIM. ’
One of the great recent servants of British boxing resurfaces for what surely amounts to a final fling at recapturing former glories on the big ‘Rock the Box II’ promotion on Saturday week.
In a 15 year, 47 fight pro career, Hornchurch stylist Colin Lynes captured national titles at both light-welter and welter, plus EBU and IBO belts in the former category.
Now 35, the amiable, Essex family man risks his ring future against unbeaten Penge prospect Bradley ‘Super’ Skeete in a ten rounder for the vacant English title. It’s a battle of the ages which has hardcore fans salivating.
Remaining tickets for the Rock The Box 2 show are available from the Eventim Box Office on 0844 249 1000 or at www.eventim.co.uk
Watch the whole Copper Box show – which also features European Heavyweight Champion Dereck Chisora, the return of former world champion Nathan Cleverly, plus London stars Frank Buglioni and Bradley Skeete – live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Ahead of the crossroads clash, boxing writer Glynn Evans renewed his acquaintance with ‘Lyno,’ to reflect on his meritable ring career and ponder over his remaining ambitions.
You’ve enjoyed a fabulous career. What do you consider to be your highlight?
Possibly beating Lee Purdy to win the British welter title.
Lee was riding high at the time so it came against all the odds. Everyone thought that my best days were over. My prep from that fight was superb but it was mentally very draining. With Lee being so dangerous, I needed to have my wits about me the whole 12 rounds.
Closely behind, would be my IBO light-welter win against Pablo Sarmiento, my first meaningful title. Pablo had done such good numbers on three British challengers before (Michael Ayres, Billy Schwer and Gary Ryder) that it was a bit of a scary task going in.
I fought with a cracked jaw from round five or six and deserved my win. Even Pablo acknowledged that I pipped him. So it was very frustrating afterwards to have critics at ringside claiming he’d been robbed. That spoilt it all a bit for me.
My wins over Barry Morrison in Scotland, then the stoppage of Young Mutley just after, when I was really on a roll, are also worthy of a mention.
And what would be the low spot?
It’s actually something that should’ve been a high spot. I really shone when I defended my European title for a second time over in Turin, Italy against Gianluca Branco. At most, Branco won two or three rounds but they robbed me. Adam Smith and the guys at Sky had promised that, if I came through, they’d get right behind a world title challenge for me against Andriy Kotelnik for the WBA belt. Instead, Amir Khan got the fight.
To have come through setbacks earlier in my career, to have come so close only to be denied my shot so unjustly, was very frustrating.
You’ve contested 11 championship fights for either the IBO, British, Commonwealth or European belts. Who was the best opponent that you fought?
Paul McCloskey was probably the most skilful. I started off with three very good rounds but my engine went from struggling to make weight. Paul re-adjusted and showed good skills.
Sarmiento possibly hit me hardest with an uppercut. He was a very big boy for 10 stone and fractured my jaw. That said, the low blows that I received from (Californian IBO challenger) Juaquin ‘Killer’ Gallardo hurt me the most!
Sarmiento was also the toughest and most rugged….and he was always smiling. Soulemayne M’Baye and Gavin Rees were also strong.
You never secured that elusive shot at a major world title. What factors do you attribute that to?
It has to be that bad decision in Italy. You have to really earn the right to fight for the meaningful world titles. I’d won and successfully defended both the British and European titles but the Italians tried to gatecrash our plans.
Probably because of the controversy, and our complaints, Branco was overlooked for the world title shot which I suppose was a small consolation.
Much was made of the fact that you were a time served printer, early in your career. What are you up to these days?
I help to teach the P.E curriculum in local schools a couple of days a week and I’m becoming increasingly involved in the pastoral side of school life, mentoring kids with difficulties. That’s very enjoyable and rewarding.
My family continues to grow. Cortney’s just done very well in her GCSEs and is now in the lower sixth, then there’s Jaidon who’s five, Jessie who’s four and little Freddie who’s 15 months.
(Wife) Kelly is doing very well with her career so I’m actively involved in the school runs and park trips. Family life is basically my hobby.
Next weekend’s clash with Bradley Skeete for the English crown will be just your second start since conceding your British welter title to Junior Witter 18 months ago. How has preparation gone?
Preparation has gone fantastically well. I’ll have had eight solid weeks at the TRAD TKO gym in Canning Town with Jimmy (Tibbs, his coach) and I’m in the same fabulous shape, physically and mentally, as when I upset Lee Purdy to win the welter title two years ago.
This camp has largely been about ignoring Skeete and making sure that I’m the best Colin Lynes that I can be, 100% and firing.
In what ways have you needed to adapt your style as you’ve aged?
You’re always adjusting and learning. Specifically, I’ve needed to improve my inside fighting. Previously, I’ve always been a box-fighter, a counter puncher. Now it’s a case of getting comfortable at close range, ensuring that I’m working away and scoring points on the inside, rather than just clinching. That’s crucial when you’re fighting at title level.
Why is fighting Bradley Skeete for the vacant English title the right move for Colin Lynes at this stage of your career?
Bradley’s an up and coming fighter. Good things are being said and written about him and he’ll be thinking it’s his time to shine. It’s his cup final.
This provides me with a chance to prove that I still want big things in my boxing career and that I’m still capable of making them happen. It’s a bit of a make or break situation for me, not dissimilar to before I challenged Lee Purdy.
I’m also very much looking forward to performing at The Copper Box. I went as a spectator for the debut promotion there in September. I heard from fighters that the facilities and changing rooms are spot on so I’m looking forward to experiencing them for myself.
What do you know of co-challenger Skeete, the reigning Southern Area champion who’s unbeaten in 13?
Bradley’s a rising prospect who’s always been a few rungs behind me until now. But I’ve never been one to underestimate any opponent. I hear good things about Skeete from around the gyms and obviously he’s tall with good range and good skills. I also hear he brings a good crowd with him.
He overcame a stiff test from Peter McDonagh but he’s not really been pushed yet. He’s always fought out of the home corner so far and been well looked after.
Defeat will leave you with few options and could even signal the end of your career. Why are you confident you can beat Skeete and prolong your involvement?
I’m confident of victory before every contest. I’m in great shape, physically and mentally, and I’m ready to fight. Bradley has youth on his side and that counts for a lot. I’ve recently been watching some of my old tapes before I got to title level, how I used to come flying out the blocks, the desire I had. Bradley will bring all that.
But this is all about what I can do and whether Skeete can cope with it. Hopefully, I should still have too much.
For me, boxing isn’t about the financial. It’s about getting back into British title contention and fulfilling my dream of winning a Lonsdale Belt outright. Boxing’s too hard a sport if you haven’t got goals. To me, it’s still a passion.