BoxNation’s hit series BoxAcademy opens it new season this Friday (7th September) at the home of London boxing the York Hall, Bethnal Green, with an exciting line-up headed by Romford cruiserweight Tony Conquest and Dublin’s Ian Tims challenging for the Vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) International title.
Also on the card, unbeaten young talent Lewis Pettitt tackles Ian Bailey for the Vacant Southern Area Super-Bantamweight championship, plus up-and-coming talents Anthony Cacace, Ricky Boylan, Charlie Hoy, Darryll Williams and Tom Baker.
BoxAcademy is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) this Friday night from 7.30pm. Join at www.boxnation.com
Name: Lewis Pettitt
Record: Eight wins, no losses, three stoppages.
Born: Sidcup, Kent
Family background: I’m the second eldest of five; four boys, one girl. We’re a real boxing family. My dad Tony boxed amateur but packed up to go into coaching when he was just 18 and later he opened up the Nemesis club in 2000. My elder brother Danny won a National Senior Novice title and my two little brothers, Luke (15) and Jake (14) both box as amateurs.
I’ve no kids myself yet but I’ve just moved into a flat in Belvedere with my girlfriend.
Trade: I’m a quantity surveyor
Nickname: ‘Bad Breed’. It’s after a clothing company which sponsors me.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? When I was about eight or nine I was quite a tubby kid and went to a Thai Boxing gym to lose a bit of weight. From there, Dad decided to set up a boxing session and it started from that.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I boxed at the Nemesis, coached by my dad, all the way through the amateurs. Dad weren’t that pushy and, at the start, I just messed about. Believe it or not, I lost my first ten amateur bouts!
Gradually, however, I started to get good at it and went on to win titles and box international. I had 88 bouts with 65 wins which weren’t bad given I lost the first ten in a row. I bagged two Junior ABA titles, two (junior) Four Nations gold medals, a GB gold and a multi-nations gold medal at a round-robin tournament in Ireland. Winning the first junior ABA crown, against a kid called Bradley something from the Steel City gym in Sheffield was probably the highlight of my time in the amateurs.
I also got to an NABC final and the semi finals of the Senior ABAs at featherweight in 2009. I beat (rising FWP pro prospect) Billy Morgan to win the London final but Iain Weaver, a seasoned England international who’s just joined our gym, beat me on points in a close one.
I boxed 18 times for England and only lost three times; the first one and the last two. I boxed in Boston (USA) and all over western Europe but always missed out on the big tournaments, like the European and World championships.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? It got to a point where I wasn’t boxing very often, just championships and internationals. I couldn’t get motivated in the gym and stopped training so hard so thought I needed a fresh challenge.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by Dean Powell and coached by Al Smith and Eddie Lamm who looks like ‘Pacman’! The gym’s buzzing with good lads. There’s loads of banter and we often socialise together.
Al’s very precise about what he wants and takes no sh**. Plenty of times, he’s stopped sparring and slung us out the ring if we’re not listening to what he wants. He really cares about us and you know he ain’t in the game for the money.
Two days a week we go to a strength and conditioning coach called Bob McDonald who’s made a huge difference. He’s got all the lads at our gym so strong.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? My work sponsors me which is really handy cos they allow me three hour lunch breaks to go off sparring when I need to.
Usually, I’ll be up at six to go for a run – typically about five miles – then, after work, I’ll be back in the gym at about 5.30. I’ll skip for 20 minutes, do about eight rounds of shadow boxing, then either eight on the bags or eight on the pads depending what day it is. We’ll finish off the punching with two rounds of what we call ‘tap’, where you just do non stop bursts.
After that, we’ve got this mad Versaclimber where we compete to see who can do most steps in 10 minutes. We’ll finish off with our groundwork, all the sit-ups and press-ups.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays we go to Bob’s to do our core work plus strength and conditioning. Everyone dreads going because you never know what he’s going to do or how long it will last. He gets us running with sledges, flipping huge tyres and there’s good competition between all of us.
I most enjoy sparring because it’s most like a fight and gets you sweating most. I least like the fast running sessions, the track work.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m a box-fighter. I’m only 5ft 5in so I like to get involved but Al’s getting me to box more, stresses it’ll prolong my career. I’m very, very strong – that’s probably my biggest asset – and I work the body well. I stopped a lot with body shots towards the end of my time in the amateurs, including about five in international bouts.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I still need to improve all round. Every fight is a new learning curve.
I really need to get some quality rounds in against guys who are my own size rather than these heavier, defensive journeymen. I’m fighting Ian Bailey for the Southern Area next and I’m hoping I’ll get 10 hard rounds.
Also, sometimes I can get too involved for my own good. I need to learn when to fight and when not too.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The pace of the pros is far slower and I much prefer that. Also you’ve far more time to train. In the amateurs you’d be cramming everything into an hour and a half slot. Now we do set things on set days; longer runs, sparring three days a week, strength and conditioning other days.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? I sparred with Cuban amateur international Alexei Acosta but it would be either (British champion) Scott Quigg or (Commonwealth champion) Carl Frampton. They’ve very different styles.
I went up to spar with Scott for three or four weekends when he was preparing for the Jason Booth fight and he looked after me tremendously well.
Quigg’s deceptively strong and a bit busier whereas Frampton is probably a heavier hitter with just one punch.
All time favourite fighter: Oscar De La Hoya; loved his style.
All time favourite fight: The first Corrales-Castillo fight.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Scott Quigg v Carl Frampton. That would be a great fight. Having sparred both, I’m very intrigued to know who would win.
What is your routine on fight day? Once I wake up, I’m straight out of bed, usually around 9ish. I’ll eat some porridge, and just ‘chill out’, maybe watch a bit of TV or have a walk till Al comes to pick me up.
I don’t really suffer with nerves, even when I’m at the venue. There’ll be a lot of friends and gymmates around, we’ll put the music on and there’ll be plenty of banter flying around. Then I’ll have a nice pad warm up. I’m just really excited. Fight night’s always the best part.
Entrance music: ‘Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problem’ by Diana Ross and Fast Eddie.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? Being so young still, I set no timescales but I definitely want to win a British title at least and hopefully progress to European and World level. If I didn’t think I could get that far, I’d not waste my time. Boxing’s too hard.
How do you relax? I go the football, go fishing and go shopping.
Football team: I follow West Ham. I had a season ticket the last time they were in the Premiership but, as Saturday is my only day off, I can’t commit to every time now. I still get there now and again.
Read: Only Boxing News and a gossip paper on the weekends.
Music: Everything but classical. I listen to anything from Phil Collins to Jay Z.
Films/TV: Films, I like anything with Denzil Washington in. American Gangster is a big favourite. I don’t watch much tele other than boxing and films.
Aspiration in life: No regrets. I don’t want to be a ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ type. I intend doing all my sacrificing now so I can be as successful as I can be.
Motto: The will to succeed, will feed the hunger!