For this edition of Up Close and Personal I caught up with former amateur star Iain ‘The Blessed One’ Weaver, ahead of his welcome return to York Hall, where he fights on the Dave Murphy Acourtier Events NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS mega event on Friday, October 4th.
Before we get to the interview itself, as usual here’s a little scene setting and as I’ve already covered his amateur career previously, this will be just about Ian since making the decision to turn pro.
Iain is undoubtedly one of the most talented and exciting young boxers, to have made the transition from the Team GB amateur squad to the pro ranks this year.
After losing out on a London 2012 Olympic spot, due to the weight division he campaigned in being one of those dropped that year, Iain signed with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport in July, just as the games were due to begin.
At the time Eddie Hearn announced that Iain would be debuting on the undercard of Darren Barker’s comeback fight, at Alexandra Palace in September that year, however life is never that simple it seems.
If losing out on an Olympic place wasn’t bad enough, Iain then had to endure months of uncertainty, as to whether he would actually get to fight professionally – I don’t intend to go into this area as it has been well covered in the media over the past year or so.
Anyway, after months of waiting Iain did eventually make his professional debut, at York Hall back in April, and boy did he do it in some style.
For those of you that were not lucky enough to be at York Hall that night, here’s a snippet from my fight report.
“Weaver entered the arena with the largest entourage I have ever seen take part in a ring walk at York Hall, amongst the twenty strong team were Southern Area Champion Bradley Skeete as well as many of Weaver’s gym mates from Al Smith’s iGym.
Right from the opening bell Weaver determinedly stamped his authority on the fight, landing some superb sharp jabs and crisp lefts. Weaver’s amateur pedigree shined through, his movement and ring craft was nothing short of poetry in motion.
You couldn’t help but feel for Lawniczak, who responded whenever the opportunity arose – which wasn’t as often as I’m sure he would have liked. Each time the young Pole had any success, Weaver would respond in kind with double handed flurries, forcing Lawniczak to go back on the defensive.
Round two see Weaver step up the pressure, unloading a multitude of shots, to both body and head, from every conceivable angle possible. His seriously quick hands were virtually a blur as he unloaded a barrage of double handed shots.
About midway through the round, weaving changed tactics and started throwing hard right hand jabs, often followed with sharp left hooks to the body.
More of the same followed in the third, although the savvy Lawniczak used holding tactics a little more, to keep the barrage of shots reigning down on him to a minimum.
In the final stanza Weaver played to the crowd, keeping his distance to prevent the Pole from holding before stepping in and picking his shots and weaving to prevent any return shots from landing.
To describe Weaver’s performance as excellent is one of the understatements of the year, it was an awesome display from the Dorset youngster, as such it came as no surprise to anyone, when world class referee Micky Vann’s scorecard was read out, it showed a shutout 40-36 points win for young Weaver.”
Almost straight after the fight Iain flew of to America, where he not only spent time training at Freddie Roach’s famous Wild Card gym in LA, but also found the time to get some competitive action – racking up a sensational first round knockout over French Polynesian prospect Karihi Tehei (3(KO2)- 1) at the County Fairgrounds in Ventura, California on the 12th July.
Now back in the UK, Iain’s manager, Gary Hyde, wasted no time in arranging his next outing, which as previously stated will be at York Hall in London on Friday, 4th October.
Anyway, enough scene setting, now it’s time to get Up Close and Personal with Iain ‘The Blessed One’ Weaver.
Ring name:The Blessed One
Rio: Family background:
Iain: My Dad was a boxer, Grandad run his own gym, an Amateur Gym – The Lonsdale Boxing Club, so I’m from a boxing family and bought up around it and that’s why I’m in to it.
Rio: When did you first become interested in boxing and why?
Iain: I was five when I used to follow my dad to the gym and I always used to mess around at the bottom of the bags watching the training and doing little bits.
Soon as I was old enough to fight I did, that’s it.
Rio: Why did you decide to turn pro?
Iain: I was on the Olympic squad four and half years, won nine medals out fo ten tournaments.
Then they moved the weight category from 57kg to 56kg so my weight was gone so I had to move up to 60kg, so I should have been in first position to go to the Olympic qualifiers but they gave it to Sam Maxwell, who had been on the squad three months and didn’t have half my experience.
So after that I decided the amateur game wasn’t for me, as I had done everything I needed to do and instead chose to turn pro.
Rio: Who are the main ‘Team Weaver’ members?
Iain: My manager is Gary Hyde, he also manages Guillermo Rigondeaux, the best in the World at Super Bantamweight, also manages Chris van Heerden, the IBO Welterweight Champion and Isaac Dogboe.
My trainer is Al Smith, boys in our gym, the iGym are Bradley Skeete, Lewis Pettitt, Ricky Boylan, Johnny Garton, Adam Dingsdale and Lloyd Ellett, all unbeaten kids, the gym’s going really well at the minute.
Rio: What’s your training schedule?
Iain: I train in Bromley in Kent, I’ve just come back from America, training out there for three months at the Wild Card Gym, but I’m back now and training in Bromley.
I do my long runs in the morning, get to the gym about six o’clock at night, do my pads, sparring, bags, weights and everything, then go to the track together.
We train together so when we’re not in the gym, doing our weights and conditioning, we’re at the track.
Rio: What is your favourite part of training?
Iain: Favourite bit for me is getting on the scales and weighing in, because all the hard work is done.
I like doing pads, to be honest I like doing pads, because when you’re feeling sharp and fit and you’re on the pads it’s great.
I suppose the same with sparring, when you’re sparring well and you have a good sparring session it feels good.
Rio: Who have you been sparring for your upcoming fight?
Iain: While I was training at the Wild Card in America I was sparring with Chris Avalos, number one in America at Super Bantamweight, Michael Farenas, who dropped Yurorkis Gamboa, Alexander Perez, Denis Shafikov, the European Light Welterweight Champion.
I’ll be definitely sparring Billy Rumble to prepare for the October 4th fight, but not sure who else at the moment.
Rio: How would you describe your fight style?
Iain: I think I’m a slick boxer, I can stand and have a fight if I need to have a fight but usually I try to hit but not get hit, you know.
Rio: Which has been your favourite fight to date and why?
Iain: Probably my last fight, when I knocked the kid out in the first round. He was meant to be a good kid, he’d come to win, his record was three wins and a single loss.
Yeah, he was good but I did a job on him and knocked him out in the first round.
It was nice because Victor Ortiz, Brandon Rios , Michael Garcia were all there watching it and Victor Ortiz came up to me afterwards and said what a good performance it was.
Rio: Who is your all time favourite boxer and why?
Iain: At the minute it’s got to be Guillermo Rigondeaux, not just because he’s with Gary, he’s the best out there and double World Champion. He’s what Boxing is to me, he hits but doesn’t get hit.
In the past it’s got to be Pernell Whitaker.
Rio: Keeping in the same vein, all time favourite fight you have watched?
Iain: It has to be either Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti or Morales-Barrera number 1
Rio: Which current match-up would you like to see happen this season?
Iain: Well you’ve got Alvarez-Mayweather happening already, I’m looking forward to Matthysse-Garcia, which is a fight I wanted to happen, because that’s going to be one hell of a fight.
I wouldn’t mind seeing DeGale box Groves again, I think it will be a different result if they fought again with DeGale winning.
Rio: What’s your fight day routine?
Iain: I normally weigh in the night before, so I get up in the morning, bit of breakfast, make sure my kits already in the bag and ready to go.
So then all I have to do is chill out before traveling to the venue.
When I’m at the venue I have a look at the ring and that’s about it really so listen to a bit of music and chill out until I’m called to the ring.
Rio: That takes us right into the next question, what is your entrance track?
Iain: The last one was by Christina Aguilera, but I’m not sure about the next one, I might have the same one again, or get one made.
The last one had a little cut in at the start, a little bit rocky and a little inspirational stuff.
Rio: What are your ambitions as a boxer?
Iain: To be World Champion.
Rio: Outside boxing, what is your favourite sport?
Iain: I don’t mind watching football now and again, I’m not a big football supporter, I like snooker to be honest, a lot of people think it’s boring but I don’t mind it.
Rio: How do you relax outside boxing?
Iain: I do a bit of shooting, shotguns and clay pigeons, Pheasant shooting, but mainly chill with my girlfriend, going to the movies, doing a bit of shopping and just chill out after a hard week training.
It’s nice to go home at the weekend and just chill out.
Rio: Favourite book?
Iain: To be honest I’ve only ever read one book, I was on holiday in Cyprus and I bought the Sugar Ray book, I’m halfway through that, so I’ve never really read a book.
Rio: Favourite music?
Iain: R&B, I like the old stuff, Sam Cooke you know all the old stuff, Dean Martin.
Rio: Favourite film or TV show?
Iain: I like Braveheart, Troy and them sort of films and on TV I’m into ‘The Only Way Is Essex’
Rio: So fans can follow you what are your Twitter and Facebook names?
Iain Twitter is @IainWeaver and Facebook is just Iain Weaver – but remember it is Iain.
Rio: Finally is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Iain: Just please come and watch me on October the 4th at York Hall, it’ll be my first six rounder and if you need tickets message me on Facebook or Twitter.
It’ll be a really good night and I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring again.
Iain Weaver, against a yet to be named opponent, features on the Dave Murphy, Acourtier Events promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ event, which takes place at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Friday, 4th October 2013
Tickets, priced £35 (Standard Seated) and £60 (Ringside) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com – www.mariannemarston.com – www.acourtier.com – or in person from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning town – www.tkoboxinggym.com – and Ringtone Gym in Euston – www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com – or direct from Iain or any of the boxers taking part in the event, or call – 07960 850645, 07809 499896 or 07557 641597 for further information.