This edition of Debutant Watch dives into the lower echelons of boxing’s weight divisions to feature flyweight Sammy Cantwell (pictured left), who will make his debut this Saturday night on Mickey Helliets ‘Hands of Stone – Nerves of Steel’ card at the Camden Centre, Kings Cross.
Sammy joins the world of professional boxing hoping to emulate the success achieved by his dad, Mickey Cantwell, during his spell as British flyweight champion in the 1990’s. The 25 year old lives in Bexley Heath and trains with his dad out of the TKO gym in Canning town.
What made you want to start boxing?
“I didn’t start boxing until I was 21. I used to play football at quite a good level so I just concentrated on that. My Dad never encouraged me to box but one day I asked him if I could start at the boxing gym, it took him a while to come round to the idea.”
Did you have a boxing idol when you were younger?
“My favourite boxer was Naseem Hamed. He was my absolute favourite! I was lucky enough to meet him once which was a dream come true. He was so entertaining and such a talented boxer, which I think some people forget.”
Did you do much amateur boxing?
“I only had four amateur contests at light-flyweight. There was hardly any lads in my weight class and most tournaments I entered I would get walk through’s to the later stages. Some times I was only boxing once a year, that’s no where near enough. I had to have some amateur fights just to build a foundation to bring to the pro game.”
How do you know the time is right to turn pro?
“Turning professional I will be busier and fighting more regularly which is the only way you can improve as a boxer. I know I have loads to learn but I really feel it’s all coming together now. I’m enjoying the training more and I’m learning every day in the pro gym. I have spent a good few months in the pro gym getting my body ready to fight.
“I think I’m ready and so does my Dad and he wouldn’t let me turn pro if he didn’t think the time was right.”
Do you see a difference in the pro and amateur codes?
“Yes, there is a difference. I couldn’t really get to grips with the in - out amateur style. I prefer the slower pace and the longer rounds.”
Do you work full-time alongside boxing?
“Me and my Dad have our own gym where we do boxer-cise classes and offer 1-2-1 personal training. This really suits me as I can head to the TKO in the morning and then spend the rest of the day working back home.”
What sort of fighting style do you have?
“I will have a really high work rate as a pro. I will be a push forward fighter, not so much of the counter punch style. I will also be good defensively, like getting out of the way of shots. From the sparring I have been doing I feel I’m going to be strong at my weight.”
What ambitions/expectations do you have for your pro career?
“To be honest I’m not looking past Saturday, I just want to win my debut. If I could win a British title like my Dad then I would be very happy. With the amount of fighters at my weight I don’t think that’s an un-realistic ambition. Anything beyond that would be great. I just have to be the best I can and see where it takes me. “
Pictured above (l to r): Sammy Cantwell, Oscar de la Hoya, Mickey Cantwell