An Interview With Unbeaten Middleweight Lewis Syrett
By Oliver McManus
Last time I spoke to Lewis Syrett he was just about to receive the news that’d he be fighting on the undercard of a world title fight – Charlie Edwards vs Angel Moreno. That was two months ago and on March 23rd he opened the show with a four-round shutout win over Danail Stoyanov. I caught up with the Sevenoaks fighter to discuss his performance.
“I started a lot quicker than normal Ollie, to be honest with you, I was keen to impress but I’d be lying if I said I was more nervous than usual. I knew going into it that I had done everything right and I’d had an extra two weeks for my camp,” Syrett was originally meant to be fighting on March 9th, “ so I was confident that I hadn’t cut any corners and, you’ve got to remember, I was training for a different opponent who I think would have been a lot harder.”
This was the sixth professional fight for the middleweight and he’s been embroiled in some tight tussles since turning pro – not least against Gabor Balogh. He explained to me, however, how this contest was able to bring about the best of his abilities,
“There’s been a couple fights where I’ve tried to get involved a bit much and play these journeymen at their own game. It’s been good to watch, don’t get me wrong, but not so good for me. I stuck to my boxing, if I’m honest, and it’s the first time I’ve won every round. I’ve gained a lot from that contest, it’s really helped my confidence because I was given the crack at fighting on such a big card and I put in the best fight of my career so far. It was almost the reverse of my previous fights in that I started off quick and then relaxed into it but I didn’t give him a chance to get comfortable. He froze. I’ve got to take that into the future and start nice and sharp in the future, then just control the fight.”
That original opponent for Syrett was Serge Ambomo, an Olympic competitor for Cameroon, who ended up facing Marcus Morrison up in Manchester. Syrett was slated to face him in a six rounder before that late change in opponent forced his contest to be downgraded to four. Frustrating, certainly, but nothing that could outweigh the occasion.
“If this was just a normal occasion then I’d have been more frustrated than I have been but because of the opportunity it didn’t really matter. I’d have done however many rounds they wanted and against any opponent they picked, it was my chance to impress so I wasn’t going to bicker about it.
To be honest with you I had originally wanted to get involved with Ultimate Boxxer – which is only three round fights – and I’d got hold of Steve to put my name in the mix for that. They only took one of from Steve’s stable (Brad Pauls) but he’s got a Southern Area fight now and he just said to me “how about a spot on the Matchroom show instead” and I couldn’t say no to that, could I!”
Being the first fight of the evening gave Syrett an unusual opportunity to sit back and relax for the rest of the night, taking in the whole experience and basking in the opportunity to watch some top-class boxing.
“That was the good thing about being first, it meant I could watch the rest of the show. The most impressive fighter was Joshua Buatsi – Liam Conroy is a very tough fighter and Josh dealt with him a lot better than I thought he would. He’s doing better and better in each fight and I’d love to see him with Anthony Yarde – it’s not going to happen, let’s be honest, but he gave me goosebumps just watching him.”
Returning in June, the 30-year-old full-time scaffolder will step up to that elusive six rounds with William Warburton looking to cause serious problems in the other corner.
“It’s long overdue getting me that six rounds, I could have done it two or three fights ago, and after that I’m looking to get as active as possible. I only had two fights last year and I didn’t like that at all so I want, probably, three or four more fights this year and then be in that Southern Area position for the early part of 2020. To be honest, even throughout my amateur fights, I’ve been getting involved in scraps, I guess you could call them, far too often and I know I’ve got it in my locker but that’s not my sort of style. I like fighting on the front foot, I’m not one of those southpaws that look to counter-punch or force their opponent into a mistake, but there’s a difference between fighting on the front foot and being a brawler.”
Having spoken to Lewis on a fair few occasions he has always been steadfast in his desire to become Southern Area champion – similar to Jeff Ofori, actually. The confidence gained from his victory against Stoyanov, performing on that big stage, has reinforced his belief that the belt is within his grasp but, as he told me, he was initially reluctant to become professional.
“I didn’t really think I was good enough, or young enough, to turn over. As I’ve been growing in confidence with each fight then it’s made me aware that I can become Southern Area title and, actually, possibly push on to the English title. I think I might have left it a little bit too late to go much further than that but I’m going to knuckle down over the next few years and just see how far I can take it.
I wish I did make the switch a bit earlier. My last two years as an amateur I was getting some bad decisions and I kept on thinking “I’ll put this right next year” but the next year it was the same all over again. They were poor decisions, though, Ollie, if I lose a fight I’ll hold my hands up but they were just bad decisions. At the end of it all it was just wasted time that had me building up frustration and, looking back, I didn’t get anything out of it whereas I could have been six, seven fights further ahead as a professional.”
The man guiding his career, as we’ve mentioned, is Steve Goodwin and the last words, rather fittingly, were full of praise for the Goodwin Boxing linchpin.
“Last time we spoke I was telling you how good a manager he is and how well he’s done for me, then 20 minutes later I’ve got a phone call from him and he’s put me on a Matchroom show. If I keep saying good things about him, I’m hoping he’ll keep pulling out the goods for me! But, in all seriousness, he is the best manager in the game and he’ll be the man to provide those opportunities where I can achieve my potential.”