QUEENSBERRY MIDDLEWEIGHT NEWCOMER Nathan Heaney is reconciled to performing without his raucous band of followers from his home city of Stoke for the first time when he goes up against Ryan Oliver at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday night, live on BT Sport.
‘Hitman’ Heaney, 10-0, is serenaded by his loyal support to the strains of “Delilah” when he struts out for his ring entrance, more often than not at his local atmospheric Kings Hall. Clips of his prolonged walk to the ring have gone viral and it is no understatement to say the 31-year-old is inspired by his fans.
He will have to take care of business on his own in London this weekend and his supporters will be able to sing along from home because he insists the song stays!
“It is a bit weird now it is finally happening, but I am at last getting the chance to do what I have always wanted to do since the age of 17 when I started boxing properly,” said Heaney on being introduced as a Queensberry signing. “I have been boxing all my life, but from 17 I wanted to be signed by Frank Warren and now I get to be a Queensberry Promotions fighter and I am really looking forward to it.
“It is a bit annoying with the scenario we are in at the moment. I have said before that we would take the arena over, me and my Stoke lot. Now I am part of it I think it will get even bigger when we can have crowds back.
“There would have been a lot coming for this fight but, it is what it is, and they will be watching from home so I will be putting a show on.”
Heaney was an interested television observer a couple of weeks back when Josh Warrington experienced fighting without the backdrop of his equally riotous Leeds support. The former world champion went through the usual motions during his entrance, but his customary salutes were lost in an empty arena.
The rest is now history and the Leeds favourite is no longer an unbeaten fighter.
“People know me for my ring walk too and he just looked awkward doing it,” considered Heaney, who is more of a natural showman than Warrington. “I’ve got to think about how I will do mine and I have got a rough idea in my head.
“He looked very uncomfortable and you have got to be a bit of an extrovert in those circumstances. What makes his work is the crowd itself and he doesn’t play a big part in it really, whereas I interact with my guys so it will be weird without having them there.
“I’ll be fine on the night because I am a fighter – an entertainer as well – and we know what we need to do.
“As long as “Delilah” is playing I will be fine. Once it kicks in it just clicks for me and it doesn’t matter if there is nobody or a thousand people there. I would prefer a thousand, but I will be ready and I will be fine.”
Not that Heaney is underestimating the job in front of him presented by the 26-year-old Oliver.
“From what I have seen of him he looks a very good boxer, very well schooled. I saw an interview where he said he had no real amateur experience and it shocked me because, technically, I think he looks very, very good.
“He works well behind a nice jab and I think he is strong, stronger than his record suggests and he keeps the range right. Our styles are similar in that we both work behind jabs, both keep it long and it will be interesting to see how it goes.
“They have taken the fight for one reason and it isn’t that they think they will lose. It is going to be good, he will want to make a statement and this is his opportunity on the big stage to cause an upset.
“And, they’ve got the benefit of thinking to themselves ‘he hasn’t got that crowd, so now is the time to get him’. My support does play a role, but I will be the same fighter on the night regardless.”
Heaney vs Oliver is live this Saturday night on BT Sport 1 HD at 7.30pm as part of a packed card headlined by British super featherweight champion Anthony Cacace defending his belt against Lyon Woodstock..
Also on the bill Kaisy Khademi (8-0) bids to double his belt tally by adding the vacant IBF European Super-Flyweight crown to his WBO European title against Birmingham’s Ijaz Ahmed (7-2).
In a special attraction Light-Heavyweight puncher Tommy Fury (4-0) is back in action and thrilling Lightweight prospect Sam Noakes (4-0) goes in against the unbeaten Delmar Thomas (5-0).
Three professional debuts complete the card, with ABA champion Masood Abdulah in action at Super-Featherweight along with Super-Lightweight Amaar Akbar and Adan Mohamed who will box at Super-Bantamweight.