With a victory over reigning Olympic champion Luke Campbell already gracing his CV, Scouse scrapper Ryan Farrag has little to fear as he attempts to bulldoze his way to domestic title contention.
The all-action crowdpleaser made it to the ABA final in 2010 and his only reverse in 11 paid outings was a three round loss to future European champion Lee Haskins.
The 25-year-old from the thriving Everton Red Triangle stable is in an almighty hurry to bludgeon his way to a British title shot in 2014, now that he has inked a promotional agreement with Queensberry Promotions.
Farrag makes his debut for his new promoter on Saturday 1st March at the world famous Aintree Racecourse, headlined by Paul Butler’s WBO/WBA Intercontinental Super-Flyweight title against Diego Liriano, plus Kevin Satchell’s Commonwealth Flyweight title defence against Issac Quaye, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
Tickets, from £40, are available from Eventim on 0844 842 5005 or www.eventim.co.uk
Watch live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Name: Ryan Farrag
Family background: I’ve two sisters and I’m in the middle. I live by Everton. I’ve no kids myself yet.
Trade: I used to be a plasterer but now I’m a full time pro.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? From a very young age I was always interested in fighting, even though I’ve always been very small for my age. I had a few (knuckle) fights in school.
Then at about the age of 14, me mate suggested we start to go the boxing.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I’ve only ever boxed at the Everton Red Triangle gym, amateur and pro.
Funnily enough, the first kid that I sparred was (reigning British and Commonwealth flyweight boss) Kevin Satchell. We had a great ‘tear up’ when we were 14 and we’ve had plenty more since.
The coaches there were Paul and Mick Stevenson who continue to coach me today.
I didn’t actually have a bout until I was 17 or 18 so all of my amateur career was as a senior. I ended up having 27 amateur fights and I lost just five. I didn’t win any national titles but I got to the 2010 ABA final. I lost to Martin J Ward who’s now unbeaten as a pro at 57KG. He was very tricky, more awkward than any fighter I’ve met. Martin won fair enough but the score was something ridiculously one sided like 15-3. That’s definitely not how the fight went.
Previously, I’d got to the national semis of the novice competition for under 20s, losing to Blain Younis.
I never boxed for England – the Isle of Man with the Merseyside and Cheshire squad was furthest I got – but I had some good wins. I twice beat John Quigley from the famous Liverpool boxing family and probably my highlight was beating (2012 Olympic champion) Luke Campbell in the ABA semis.
That was a great day because Luke was the reigning European champion and I was a big underdog. I got a huge spread in the (Liverpool) Echo for that. A fortnight before, my coach Paul set up a brilliant plan for me to practise and it paid off. Luke’s a counter puncher and the plan was basically to counter punch him.
I loved the amateurs but it was just one stage of my boxing career. I was always going to be a pro. Obviously, I wish I’d won the ABA title. I was the first from our gym to get to the final for 10 years so to fall short at the end was devastating.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I’d actually contemplated going before the ABAs. But at 22, I was the right age, still young. The higher I got in the amateurs, the more I had to change my style. I was always more of an inside fighter but, at top level, you had to pinch points. You couldn’t just steam in.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m now managed by Neil Marsh after three years with Steve Wood. I’ve just signed a three fight deal with Frank Warren and I’m hoping to impress. I’ll be out next at Aintree on March 1st.
I’m still coached by Mick and Paul, my amateur trainers. We’ve a real strong pro squad. In addition to meself, there’s Satchell, Jazza Dickens, Thomas Stalker, Courtney Fry, Nathan Brough and Steven Lewis.
Paul and Mick aspire to brilliance. They’ll get us to repeat techniques 50 times over until we get it right. They’ve so much knowledge and both are brilliant motivators, though calm in the corner. They’re like family and they’ve really built my confidence up. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Before turning pro I did a personal trainer’s course which covered nutrition so I’m quite on the ball with regard to making weight and staying strong.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I train at the Everton Red Triangle gym five mornings a week, Monday to Friday, then run around the parks afterwards.
The routine is different every day but a normal session would be something like starting with shadow boxing. Paul always looks over you, ensuring everything is done ‘spot on’. Then we’ll either go on the pads – Mick and Paul are brilliant at that – or do sparring. I do a lot with Kev (Satchell), Jazza plus technical stuff with Tom Stalker who’s a bit heavier.
On the bags, we do a lot of combination work and Paul and Mick expect every shot to be hard and fast. After that, I’ll do a bit of skipping and we’ll finish off with a circuit.
Sparring is the bmost enjoyable, for me. I just love fighting. Least favourite part is dieting but I’ve been good this year. I walk around about 9.5. Last Christmas I hit ten stone and I didn’t look great!
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m an aggressive counter puncher who can also set up my own attacks. I like to fight inside….I just like to fight. I like to win fights rather than steal them.
I stopped just under half in the amateurs – straight right hand or right hook were my best shots – but fighting journeymen has been very frustrating. This year I’m really looking forward to stepping up the competition and facing opponents who come to fight, come to win.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I’m presently working on my speed and combinations. British fighters tend to just throw twos and threes but the best Mexicans throw sixes and sevens. That’s what I aspire to.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? I went from fighting the best kids in the country as an amateur to basically fighting journeymen who didn’t want to fight! I found that hard. My style is made for those who come to fight, not those who come to survive.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? In a fight it would probably be Martin J. Ward but, if you include sparring, it’s Jazza Dickens. The first time we did a bit, I just couldn’t catch him. Jazza doesn’t like getting hit! His timing is impeccable. Every time you miss, he lands and it’s a different combo every time. He’s got such a range of punches.
All time favourite fighter: Mike Tyson. He really dominated the heavyweight division. There’s been no one like him. A beast! He’d make openings to set opponents up then, when he landed, it was devastating.
All time favourite fight: Satchell stopping Paul Edwards to win the Commonwealth flyweight title at Aintree. I’d done a lot of sparring with both, being from the same area. I knew Kev would beat him.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Jazza Dickens against Kid Galahad again. Last time, Jazza expended too much energy in the early rounds but he’s more experienced now and won’t make the same mistake again.
What is your routine on fight day? I can’t sleep the night before. I’m like a kid at Christmas! When I get up, I go straight to the gym to chill and have a bit of banter with the lads. I’m excited but relaxed. For food, I’ll eat pasta, carbs, and take in loads of liquids. In the afternoon, I’ll do as little as possible, might even try and catch a nap.
Nothing more can be done on the day: ‘What will be, will be’ so I don’t worry too much until it’s time for me to start my warm up at the arena. I’ll try and keep as cool a head as possible but the nerves kick in once you begin that walk to the ring.
Entrance music: I have different every time. ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ by Guns ‘n’ Rose is my favourite.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? I’d love to be a world champion. It’s all about the pride. The money is just a bonus.
How do you relax? We go out for food together – I enjoy a good Nando’s – and I also like swimming. I play FIFA and Fight Night a lot on my Xbox. I love sports but Paul doesn’t let us play anything else in case we get injured. I live next door to me sister so I spend a lot of time there.
Football team: I’m Red (Liverpool). I try to get to Anfield as much as I can.
Read: Not much. Just the Boxing News at the gym.
Films/TV: My all-time favourite film is ‘Shawshank Redemption’. I’m not a big watcher of the tele. I just put on Netflix.
Aspiration in life: To be a world champion. Boxing is the only thing I think about. Perhaps if I keep winning, I’ll get a chance against (IBF king) Stuey Hall.
Motto: Train hard, fight easy. You don’t become world champion by just ‘ticking over’ in the gym.