Boxing Interviews: Chris Healey
By Oliver McManus
Following three extended absences from the sport – totalling 56 months – Chris Healey returned to boxing in February.
Three fights on and Stockport boxer competes in Ultimate Boxxer this Friday: a tournament that could change his career. He began by telling FightPost how relieved he was to have been given some notice – a rarity of his career.
“It’s crept up on me, to be honest, (fight week) and it’s come around quite quick. A couple weeks ago we were doing the press conference and the draw but now we are here! Just before they announced it properly I was in camp so we’ve had a long one – maybe 10 weeks – and I’m not used to that, really. I just want to get in there now and throw some punches.”
The format of 3, three minute rounds doesn’t faze Healey – despite being a professional since 2012. Boxing out of a stable with a hearty number of amateur boxers has aided his development as has sparring former Ultimate Boxxer competitors.
“We’ve been sparring with pros and amateurs. You can tell the difference straight away when you’re watching the amateur bouts with how fast and quick-paced they spar because they know it’s only three rounds. Pros have a slower pace because they go on for longer but they also have that more rounded power. I’ve done quite a lot with Damian Chambers for this camp.”
That mix of amateur and professional sparring stood, former UB winner, Derrick Osaze in good stead and Healey will hope to replicate those results. His preparation for this tournament has been distinctly about change; a change in circumstance for him, having a full camp, and a change in the way he wishes to approach the contest. The one-time cruiserweight explained why he was looking to shift the pounds.
“This has been my first real camp; I’ve been taking days off work so I can make sure I can do double the training. I’ve also been getting in a lot of strength and conditioning work which I’ve not normally done. I’ll never get down to cruiserweight again, that’s long gone, but I wanted to lose weight anyway, just for myself, but also now I’ve started boxing again. There’s a real difference between weighing in at 20 stone and 18 stone; my legs would get tired and I couldn’t keep up the pace. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be on Friday but, look, it’ll be lighter than before.”
Healey, like many of the competitors in this Ultimate Boxxer, has crossed paths with his fellow heavyweights. The 31 year old has previously boxed Nick Webb, Mark Bennett and Jon Palata. His decision losses to Bennett and Palata were close affairs whilst he was knocked out in the third round by Webb. At the time of his bout with Webb a cocktail of bad news was working against him and Healey insists things will be different this time around.
“When I took the Nick Webb fight I’d just got made redundant, and it wasn’t long after my dad died. So it was for the money. I wasn’t in the gym due to my dad and my back (injury). I literally got the phone call, they told me the money and I had about five days notice to get in the gym straight away and we sparred for the five days. I wasn’t training for it, I wasn’t fit or anything, I was just doing it for the fact that I was going to get some money and I needed it. With a camp that long, I’m actually happy about how much I’ve progressed. He probably thinks it’s still going to be an easy fight because of what happened in the last one, whereas I know it won’t be.”
Prior to his fight with Webb, his opponent for the first round on Friday, Healey had just one fight in two years. A nasty back injury put him on the sidelines and the heavyweight southpaw admitted he was unsure he’d ever have another crack at the sport.
“When I did my back I thought ‘well I’m going to be out for a bit’ and that was it. When my dad died as well, it was more of a shock than anything. My head just went completely off boxing, I didn’t even think about it. I’ve always had a feeling I’d come back to it but I never knew if I was going to. I always wanted to come back but I didn’t know if I could. But then I started training again and then relight the fire. When you’re back in the gym with everyone around you and you see the sparring, that’s when I knew I wanted to do this again.”
To have returned to the ring in December 2016 was huge for Healey in itself. In his seven fights since he’s experienced victory twice – against Dorian Darch and Omar McKayle – but those numbers tell only a fraction of the story. This opportunity to test himself, in quick fire fashion, is one that requires no additional motivation, Healey told me:
“When I was injured, you feel empty inside because all I’ve ever known is boxing and now that I can actually do it again and do it properly, and when you get an opportunity like this you just can’t turn it down. As soon as I got it, I was really happy with it so I’ve just got to fight and do what I can do. It’s a great opportunity and now I’m actually fit and ready to go. I’m happy it’s happening now that I’m in the right frame of mind as well. “
Chris Healey will face Nick Webb in the first round of Ultimate Boxxer, aired live on BT Sport and YouTube, as he looks to revitalise his career. The ever-entertaining heavyweight has been down on his luck but a win on Friday night can set up a mammoth 2020. The 31 year old knows what he has to do and, importantly, he feels he knows how to do it, too:
“I know what I’ve got to do. I know I’ve got to box and got the game plan I’ve got to stick to. It’s a bit different once you’re in there because sometimes I do like to stand there a have a bit of a trade off and a war but I know I can’t do it in three rounds so just got to keep my head on and do what I’ve got to do and box.”