Old-school Sonny Upton – “I should have had the title a long time ago”

Sonny Upton [12(5)-2(1)] bids to become the third of the three boxing brothers to claim a national title on Friday night – and he sees the opportunity as being a long time coming.

So much so, the middle brother has no qualms about jumping into a relatively short-notice fight, on away turf, without a warm-up bout, in what will be his first contest under new trainers.

On Friday Upton challenges for the vacant English light middleweight title, taking on local lad Matthew Ryan [12(2)-1(0)] at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester.

The three brothers left long-time trainer Ricky Hatton last Summer, eventually ending up at the West Ham Boxing Academy under Barry Smith and Harry Andrews. This month saw brothers Anto, former English light welter champ, and Pauly, current Irish light middleweight champion, have their first fights with the new set-up – both boxing in straight-forward, rust-shaking, getting-to-know-you contests.

Sonny however is going straight into a big fight, and he told Irish-Boxing.com that “it’s no big deal, it doesn’t phase me.”

“They [Black Flash, Ryan’s promoter] had previously sent over for our Pauly, but he was looking to ease his way in after being out for so long.”

“Before my management sent this back, I told them that I was ready, get me the fight. It was only three weeks ago, but I was already for training for a date last week [the inaugural MTK London show in which Pauly scored a knockout win].”

“Even when I didn’t have a trainer I was still up for fighting for the title.”

“These opportunities don’t come around all the time, I have to take them.”

Indeed Upton, who defeated Ryan Toms in an eliminator in 2015 and was set to face Ben Hall for a prolonged period, noted how “I should have had the title a long time ago.”

It will be the 27 year old’s first fight under Andrews and Smith, but he explained that there haven’t been drastic changes made to his style.

“It’s all hard graft,” said Upton. “The lads have slightly different methods, and the padwork is slightly different, plus it’s a benefit having two different trainers.”

Travelling into Ryan’s backyard is no issue for Upton – who has spent some time sparring the Middleton man.

He described how “it doesn’t matter, that’s all just mind games. His fans can’t help him, and I’ll have quite a few fans too.”

“I fought Ryan Toms in his hometown after he stopped Lloyd Ellett, and had sold lots of tickets, and I dominated. I travelled to Belarus and fought their guy [Vadzim Astapuk] in front of all his fans and I knocked him out.”

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie