An Interview With Paul Greenidge
By Oliver McManus
At the age of 21 Paul Greenidge, a promising young footballer, was thrust into the boxing world following a cruel twist of fate for his brother – himself a footballer for Tottenham, he had torn his cruciate and in the spiral afterwards ended up in jail. Paul picked up the gloves in an effort to inspire his brother but found himself to have a natural knack for the sport.
“He was in there for six years”, Paul began to explain, “and did it for a little bit after he got out but his temper didn’t help. It was okay to start off with but once you lose your temper in a fight you’re very easy to beat so he put it to the side and now he’s married with kids. I didn’t even watch boxing before everything happened with my brother so it was 100% an accident.
“I didn’t have my first amateur contest until 2011 and I was with Watford A.B.C for about two years before I fought someone out of Finchley and Shaun Murphy (one of the coaches at Finchley) asked me after the fight if I could come down and join them.
“The difference between Watford and Finchley was crazy: in three years at Watford I had three fights and in my first year at Finchley I had 12 fights in six different countries.”
After teaming up with Finchley, perhaps more synonymous with heavyweight bruisers, opportunities aplenty came about for Greenidge with fights from Bethnal Green to Las Vegas but it was a trip to Munich that stands out in his mind.
“I really enjoyed fighting in Cork but Munich was the best in terms of experience, I went out there to box for England and I boxed one of the home favourites, the son of a local hero, and a he battered me for the whole fight until I stopped him in the last ten seconds. That was probably my biggest personal achievement because I was such a big underdog and the crowd were against me so to come away with the win sort of told me that I could do it.”
Despite being labelled a ‘late-bloomer’ there is very little in way of regret from the super middleweight and, really, no hint that his late start has held him back as a professional.
“If I’d have started at Finchley then I feel as though I could have won the ABA’s but, as it was, I reached the final twice and just came up short (to Jamal Akay, now 1-0 as a professional, and Julius Amoah). In terms of achieving things as an amateur then that’s the only area I think starting late has held me back but I feel fresh, fresher than most 29 year old’s, because my body hasn’t taken that wear and tear as a lot of other people have.”
After 36 amateur fights, with 24 wins and nine knockouts, it was another turn of luck that led to the plumber opting to turn professional.
“I’d broken my hand and by the time I got back to Finchley they had left AIBA, the amateur governing body, but if you were classed as an “elite” there were restrictions on the tournaments you could compete in so to further my career I would have had to leave Finchley. That was the last thing I wanted to do so I had a couple of discussions and that’s when we made the decision to turn professional.”
Trained by Terry Steward out of Buckhurst Hill, the 29 year old shares a gym with Linus Udofia and Brad Pauls, to drop just two names, and he made his debut in September 2017 against, rugged Bulgarian, Borislav Zankov. Going into the pro game without fully knowing what to expect resulted in a somewhat breezier debut than Greenidge had anticipated.
“I found it (his debut) a lot easier than I thought it was going to be but I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. I thought I’d be a lot more tired than I was, I could punch a lot harder than I thought because of the gloves and the atmosphere was just incredible so that actually made it easier, as well. (The production levels of Goodwin Boxing show’s) help an awful lot and I’ve gone to a few other promoters shows and the boxers just walk down the side, have the fight and get out. With Steve it’s like the Eddie Hearn of small-hall because it’s all very slick and professional: it makes you feel professional, you don’t feel amateur, when you look back at the big screen and see your name up there.”
Having come through that opening exercise unscathed and with a 40-37 victory in the back pocket there was a real desire to push on but, as you can guess by now, fate had other plans.
“I had a bit of a mare, I was due to fight in April and I ended up getting meningitis and I had five blood clots on my nose so I was in hospital for nearly six months. It was literally freak of luck, nothing boxing related, and it absolutely killed me because I was in such a bad way for a long time getting woken up for injections and getting things shoved up my nose.
“I went down to the equivalent of welterweight because I couldn’t eat and I wasn’t sleeping; I must have gone down about 16 kilos, putting it back on wasn’t too bad but it was obviously getting that fitness back and making sure it was muscle I was putting on and not just fat.”
With all of that left firmly in the background, touch wood, Greenidge made his return to the ring some fifty weeks after his debut with two wins to close out 2018 – four rounders against Callum Ide and Lewis van Poetsch – before sharing the ring with Zankov, once again, earlier in the year. A less than perfect set of circumstances but one that provided a handy yardstick for his development.
“My first opponent pulled out and my second had fought the week before and got stopped so he obviously had his license suspended. It was either cancel the fight or get Boris Zankov back and whilst it wasn’t ideal I could see my progression through those fights. My self confidence and trusting that, actually, I do have the ability to loosen up and let things flow naturally has probably been the biggest thing I’ve noticed (from his first fight with Zankov to their second encounter).”
The Hertfordshire-based fighter finds himself next out on July 6th against Geraint Goodridge (2-9-3) in his first six rounder and it’s an opportunity that Greenidge is seeking to impress in with an eye firmly on the path to titles.
“I cannot wait to get more rounds because I’ve always found myself just warming up as the fight finishes – it was the same when I was an amateur. Geraint is a good step up in opponent (having been set to fight for the Welsh Area against Daniel Barton in October) and it’s over six rounds so it’s a healthy test for me. I think he’ll have a fairly similar sort of style to me so that could be interesting and we’re expecting him to come to win. I’ve had a few words with Steve (Goodwin) and we’re looking to be in title contention by next year – it’s my turn to bring home a belt given how well Brad and Linus are doing!”