An Interview With Lewis Syrett
By Oliver McManus
Among the more instantly recognisable names competing in Ultimate Boxxer this Friday, September 20th, there lies Lewis Syrett quietly peppering away under the radar.
The Goodwin Boxing fighter arrived late to the professional game having turned professional just a few months before his 30th birthday; by his own admission he feared he had left it too late.
His interest in the Ultimate Boxxer format was piqued earlier in the year, he explained as we caught up on his lunch break.
“It first got my interest when they had the middleweight tournament in May (which Derrick Osaze won) and Brad Pauls (a Goodwin Boxing stablemate) was meant to be on it and I was interested in getting on that. Steve (Goodwin) knew I was interested, he’s more involved in this edition, and he said ‘you’ve only got to drop a couple more pounds’ so it was a perfect opportunity. I think (super welterweight) could be a permanent change after this tournament because the hardest part is doing it once, if that makes sense, but I know I can make 154 and it’ll be easier to maintain going forward.”
Lunch break conversations with Lewis are somewhat of a pre-fight tradition, having followed the local southpaw’s career closely. The full-time laborer had recently undergone a substantial change to his daily routine having switched jobs, now working in the Bluewater area, and moved back to his amateur gym.
“I can get up and run in the mornings now; if I wanted to do that before it would be at quarter past five or something like that. It seems only a small thing from the outside but it’s two hours less travel each day and that’s two hours more rest – I always trained, I never cut corners on that but I was sleeping terrible, to be honest. I feel different, I feel more relaxed and just a lot happier.”
“I’m back training at my old club Sevenoaks”, he continued, “where I was as an amateur for 10 or so years, and I’m with my old sparring partner Andy Knight so this will be our first opportunity together. I told Steve I’d speak to Andy about it (entering the tournament) but it ended up more me telling him “I’ve been offered this opportunity and I’m taking it.”
Having racked up six wins on the trot since turning professional, all over a scheduled four rounds, the southpaw has long been eager to test himself at a level beyond journeymen. In an odd twist of circumstances that relative lack of ‘championship experience’ could play into his hands over this truncated format.
“The boys that have had the longer fights, really the bigger fights, are having to now condense their work into three rounds as opposed to the eight, ten, twelve that they’ve been gearing up for. I think, in a way, only having four rounders probably helps me for this format and that’s a bizarre factor that even though I’m ‘less experienced’, you could say, I’ve only had six four rounders, two finished early, and fifty amateur contests of which a lot were three x three’s so it’s what I know.”
To replicate that amateur nostalgia of fast and fleeting competition, Syrett has sought to revert back to the ‘good old days’ of his unpaid apprenticeship – consisting in excess of fifty bouts. He’s taken a leaf out of Osaze’s book and, in more distant memories, that of Johnny Garton in sparring amateur fighters in an attempt to get a feel for the format.
“I’ve been sparring a lot of amateurs because of the format and you expect a lot of people to come out all guns blazing, trying to really get a hold of the contest from the start. I’ve been trying to replicate that pace and be active from the start because there’s been a couple of fights where I’ve took a while to warm up so that’s been the real big thing for this camp. You’ve got to win the first round, that’s the way I’m looking at it, if you win the first round then it’s up to your opponent to try and force something and that’s a little pressure off your back.”
Syrett is looking to stick to the basics and not overcomplicate the process by creating separate strategies for each potential opponent. The secret, though a fairly open one, is to win the first round. No ifs, no buts.
“You don’t really want to have an absolute war in the first fight when you’ve got another two, hopefully, to come after that. I think, for me, as long as I don’t drawn into too much of a scrap to start off with then the opponent (Sean Robinson) doesn’t bother me – a fight is a fight. I’ve done a lot of sparring with Sean, actually, because when he fought Josh (Ejakpovi for the Southern Area title) he wanted a big southpaw so we’ve sparred a lot of rounds.
“I’m not going to go out there and try and end it early because I think I stop people more because of my work rate, I’ve worn those two guys out and just ground them down, as opposed to concussive punches. I think I’ve got the engine that can make a difference, I can keep a really high tempo for three rounds so I’ll back myself to out-work my opponent.”
The format is one that lends itself to any fighter willing to give it a go, instantly increasing their kudos as someone who wants to ‘get involved’. For Syrett it’s an opportunity to reignite his love for boxing and open new doors in the months ahead.
“I’m not sure what happens after this, to be honest, I want to be closer to a Southern Area but I know I need a six rounder before that but I want people to sort of know I’m done with boxing journeymen. I’ve turned 31 this year and I’ve not got time to mess around so hopefully by putting my name in the hat and seeing how far I can go in the tournament then I can skip ahead on the ladder and get more fights that excite me. This does excite me but I’ve found it hard to get excited for a couple of these – Victor Edagha was so frustrating, he saps the fun out of the occasion – so I hope it’ll open up some exciting opportunities where I can have some fun.”