I’m sure that anyone that watched Prizefighter – International Heavyweights – back in June 2012, will remember 25 year old Tom Little from Hatfield, Hertfordshire, not because he won or anything like that, but for the surprising way he exited the competition in the quarter-final against Tom Dallas.
I say surprising as Tom seemed to be cruising to victory, but after two sensation rounds dominated by the Hatfield man he ran out of steam mid-third round.
Doghouse Boxing’s Iain Dolan, who was ringside on the night, wrote in his report:
“Fight of the night was the 4th quarter final between Hatfield’s Tom Little (18st 3lbs) and Tom Dallas. The flabby Little, in only his 4th paid bout showed surprising hand speed and a big heart as he threw the kitchen sink at Dallas from the off.
Finding success with jabs and hooks both upstairs and down, Little looked to be on course for an unlikely victory as Dallas neglected defense in order to meet fire with fire.
Little started the 2nd round with similar ambition but, from quite early on, was looking up at the big screen to see how long was left in the round. Little continued to throw leather and give Dallas problems although he was clearly gassed by the end of the round.
In the 3rd it all fell apart for Little as he had just completely run out of steam. Dallas landed some good shots but it was 90% exhaustion that caused Little to crash to the canvas.
He managed to get to his feet but could barely stand so the fight was waved off.
If Little can find the discipline to spend more time in the gym and less time in KFC, he has plenty offer on the domestic heavyweight scene.”
That final comment may just have been the catalyst for the ‘rebuilding’ of Tom Little that has been taking place at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town over the past couple of months.
That may sound a little dramatic, but believe me I have seen the transformation, both physical and mental, that has taken place.
I first met Tom when he was preparing for his pro debut, against Rolandas Cesna in July 2011. I was invited by Graham Earl to come to Luton to interview his fighters that were to take part in an event promoted by him at the Liquid Night Club in Luton.
To describe the difference between the Tom I met then and the one I spoke with earlier today is unreal. Back then Tom was yet another flabby heavyweight.
He’s biggest selling point was his hand speed, ridiculously fast for a Light Heavy, let alone a Heavyweight, but his stamina was very, very poor, he was running out of steam after just a couple of rounds on the heavy bag.
Today Tom is almost a lean, mean fighting machine. Whilst yes he is still carrying a bit of excess weight, he really is beginning to look much more ‘fighty’
I watched as Barry Smith put him through the paces, six rounds on the heavy bag, followed by another six on the pads – oh and I don’t mean pitter-pattering I mean full on ‘fight level’ stuff.
The change is so extreme that I for one am looking forward to watching him in action, at Johnny Eames’ TKO Events promoted ‘Two Tribes’ event at York Hall in London on Saturday June 1st.
If he performs at the level he did in the training sessions Tom Little may just be the breath of fresh air the Heavyweight division needs to ignite the fans interest once more.
As I said before I was amazed at his extraordinary hand speed, as well as the ease he is able to open up his opposition with both hands, so am sure he will become a serious crowd pleaser.
OK, enough of my praising the youngster, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Following the grueling regime Barry Smith, young Tom took some time out to talk about his career to date, his disappointing loss to Tom Dallas and of course the transformation since his move to the TRAD TKO.
Rio: So you’re fighting Luke Martin at York Hall on the 1st June, what do you know about Luke and how do you see the fight going?
Tom: Luke Martin, well I don’t know a thing about him, don’t care all I know is I’m going to flatten him.
Training’s been really good, the sharpness is there and everything is coming together just right.
I’ve got a week of sparring to go, I’m really looking forward to that, then I’m ready to go, so Luke Martin watch out.
Rio: This will be your fifth professional outing, how has your pro career been to date?
Tom: I’ve had four fights, this will be my fifth, won three of them and my only loss was against Tom Dallas in Prizefighter.
I’m not going to make excuses, anyone that see it see that knows I didn’t get beat by the better man.
I was in a very bad place in my life at that time, I shouldn’t have been in a boxing ring, to be quite honest with you I shouldn’t have been around people full stop, I should have been locked away, because of the things going on in my head at the time.
That’s all behind me now though, I’m moving forward and I’ve got a good team behind me at last, in manager Johnny Eames and trainer Barry Smith as well as having a great camp at the TRAD TKO gym in Canning Town.
Rio: So you were lucky to get the three wins you have then?
I’ve been lucky, I fought the very capable Hastings Rasani in my second fight, funnily enough I was up here two days before my fight, Graham got Barry to give me some pads and he blew me out in two rounds, so you can tell what sort of fitness I was at.
It’s all changed now though, I’ve been at the TRAD TKO about fifteen weeks now, come down from about twenty stone and now weigh seventeen stone five. I’ve never boxed below eighteen stone before, ever.
For Prizefighter I only ever done roadwork and bag work and no other training for two weeks, so I’m confident now that I’m getting into good condition.
Rio: So you’re now in a ‘Good Place’ mentally and physically, so what can the fans expect to see of Tom Little in the future.
Tom: I know that people spout their mouth and say whatever, but I know there’s not a heavyweight in Britain that I can’t beat when I’m fit and believe me I am going to be in the condition of my life thanks to Barry.
This is literally a new start for me and I’m real pleased that Johnny and Barry have given me the opportunity to have this new start.
That loss to Dallas, a lot of people wouldn’t have given me a second chance, thankfully Johnny see something he liked and was happy to work with me.
Barry’s always liked the way that fight and he’d seen the things that needed changing. Everyone’s been working together and I’m confident that we really are going to shock everyone when they see me in action on June 1st.
Rio: Changing tack slightly, could you tell the readers a little about your early amateur career please?
Tom: I was amateur from the age of twelve, up to seventeen. I had twenty two fights won eighteen of them, done real well as an amateur.
The last time I boxed as an amateur was as a Middleweight, then I went away and done my own thing.
Rio: So you walked away from boxing whilst an amateur, what changed for you to come back straight in and campaign in the pro ranks?
Tom: Funnily enough I went back into the gym to help me give up smoking and met Graham Earl.
Graham then offered me the chance to turnover, it all happened really fast, I got my head down, had three fights, which I won, under Graham Earl whilst I was training out of Luton.
Never did feel myself that I was fit, always felt there was something missing, someone was missing something out of the camp.
It really did open my eyes up when I went in Prizefighter under short notice and was literally left to train myself.
My current trainer Barry was there on the night, he noticed but obviously couldn’t say anything because I wasn’t his fighter at the time.
It really showed, I went in against someone I wasn’t expected to get anywhere with and gave him the hiding of his life for two rounds, but in doing this literally collapsed with exhaustion.
This really opened my eyes, so I went away to think things over. I then left my manager, left everything and come up to the TRAD TKO, where I was welcomed with open arms.
Rio: Has this change of management and coaching made that much of a difference then?
Tom: Barry Smith has really turned things around for me, before I couldn’t do two rounds in sparring for any of my other fights because I just didn’t have it in the tank, now I can spar up to ten rounds.
It makes so much difference being here, I’ve always got a coach, everyone puts in the best work to help, but the biggest thing is there is always sparring here, not just sparring but quality sparring against great opposition.
There’s a couple of good heavyweights up here, plus fighter friends of the gym. I had some sparring with Dereck Chisora and that, so the TRAD TKO has done a lot for me, in the short time since I’ve been up here, I’m very grateful to them.
Rio: I know you are focused on the fight with Luke Martin right now, but after that is there any fight you really want Johnny to make happen for you?
Tom: I’m really eager to get the rematch against Tom Dallas, I want to prove to everyone that the better man didn’t win on the night.
If he wants to hide behind his manager so be it, they say he doesn’t want it yet, but he can’t hide for ever and I’ll be there in his way wherever he wants to get to.
This will be my first fight under the TRAD TKO banner and I know that it’s the start of bigger things for me, including hopefully the rematch with Tom Dallas, I’ll go to Kent and drag him out if I have to.
Rio: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today, finally is there anything you would like to say to the fans out there?
Tom: To all the fans out there, come to York Hall on the 1st June and see the real me, see what they were missing out on before because I didn’t have proper training before, they’ll see what I can do now that I have a serious people behind me and I’m in a good place.
Tom Little, against Luke Martin, is a supporting bout on the Colin Lynes versus Beka Sutidze headlines the BBBofC sanctioned Johnny Eames promoted ‘Two Tribes Go To War’ event at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Saturday 1st June 2013.
Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on line at www.tkoboxoffice.com or in person at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town or direct from Tom Little or any of the fighters taking part.