Kieron Conway: Looking To Put Northampton On The Boxing Map

Kieron Conway: Looking To Put Northampton On The Boxing Map

By Cameron Temple

When you think of boxing in Britain, London comes to mind, with its iconic O2 arena and Manchester with the M.E.N arena, which has hosted the likes of Mike Tyson and Ricky Hatton, or even Leeds, which always delivers an outstanding atmosphere when Josh Warrington is topping the bill.

One place in Britain that rarely, if ever, gets a mention when talking about boxing is Northampton. Young prospect, Kieron Conway, is looking to change that.

“I didn’t feel like Northampton was a big boxing town growing up,” Kieron said, “and it probably wasn’t, until recently. We’ve had quite a lot of success, with Chantelle Cameron and myself in the pro’s, and we’ve got quite a big amateur scene now. So, I think boxing’s taken off in Northampton and one day soon we’re going to be really well known and hopefully I’ll be one of the leaders of that. I’ve got a great following from Northampton, they’re good to me, but to be fair we haven’t got much else going on in sport!”

Should Kieron fulfil his lofty ambitions in the sport, I suspect he’ll very much put Northampton on the map in the boxing world, as he revealed:

“I don’t want anything, except everything. I want all of it. I want to be world champion. I want to be buying houses with the money boxing gives me and I want to be looking after who’s living underneath the roofs of those houses. I want to be a superstar in boxing. I won’t have done myself justice in my eyes if I don’t achieve that. I give it my all. I don’t do another job, I literally put everything into boxing.”

Growing up, Kieron’s first foray into martial arts was not boxing, but Karate instead:

“I did Karate for six years and I was a black belt when I was eleven or twelve. That’s as far as my dad would let me get into fighting at the time, he let me do karate because it was not as aggressive as boxing. He just didn’t think I’d be tough enough for boxing.”

However, it was not long before Kieron won his dad over and began boxing. In fact, he won his dad over to such an extent that he is now his trainer:

“My dad trains me and he does genuinely want what is best for me.” Kieron said, “But, we do argue like mad, and sometimes I wish it was him coming out the other corner when I’m fighting. So, there’s pros and cons to having your dad as your trainer, but my family always wants what’s best for me.”

Kieron spent his amateur career at King’s Heath boxing club, which he still holds in extremely high regard:

“I believe training at King’s Heath was absolutely vital for my career. They’re a very good gym and they’re well known in the amateurs now. I was taught basics to an extremely high standard, and I think I’ve carried that through my whole career. If anybody asked me what amateur gym they should go to, I would always say King’s Heath. It’s a really good place to be.”

Kieron had eighty-four amateur bouts, winning sixty-nine, before turning pro in 2017, a transition which he has made comfortably, saying:

“It’s been fairly smooth. Just before I turned professional, I started sparring in pro gyms and training with a lot of pro’s, so the transition has been quite fluid and I’ve never had to force anything. There’s still obviously a lot of improvements to make and there’s a lot of criticism of me at the moment, with people thinking that I don’t punch and I need to sit down on my shots, but that definitely won’t be a problem going forward.”

After turning over to the professional ranks, Kieron enjoyed nine straight wins before deciding to enter the Ultimate Boxxer tournament in the middleweight division:

“Nothing was really happening in my career at that point, so I decided to enter the tournament. The winning prize was about sixteen grand, and that was quite a lot of money for me when I was only in small hall shows. I thought that it looked like an easy night, but I just had the wrong attitude going it to it. It wasn’t even at my weight-class, I went up a weight to enter it.”

Kieron won his first fight comfortably, but faltered in the next round, after losing via split decision to Derrick Osaze:

“At the time it was horrible.” Kieron admitted, “I didn’t even want to go out and face anyone. I wanted to sneak out the back of the changing rooms and go back to the hotel and not see anyone, but, obviously, I didn’t do that. A couple of days later when I started having a few phone calls with my management, I realised it’s not the end of the world. I’m young and it was early in my career, so I didn’t take it too much to heart.”

Kieron made sure to bounce back quickly, as he explained:

“I asked my management company, MTK Global, to get me straight back in the ring. The following week I was fighting in my home town in a four rounder. I said ‘I don’t want paying, I’ll fight for free, I just want to fight.’ That helped me recover from the loss because a few weeks after that I got a phone call asking me if I wanted to fight for the British title, and I just replied, ‘obviously.’ So, all in all, I think it did me good. That loss was my most defining moment. It completely changed my mentality and everything that I do. That’s probably the thing that’s made the biggest impact on my life so far.”

Kieron’s fight with Ted Cheeseman for the British super welterweight title ended up resulting in a draw, as Kieron, the underdog going into the fight, put on a performance that took many onlookers by surprise:

“I wasn’t surprised with my performance, I was more surprised that I wasn’t able to get the win. It was probably down to a bit of preparation, because at the time I wasn’t preparing for anything. I was in and out of short four round fights, so that’s what I was working towards and then I suddenly had to fight a twelve rounder. I was definitely not prepared for that.”

Despite the disappointment of failing to emerge with the British title around his waist, there was a silver lining for Kieron, as he caught the eye of Matchroom boxing’s CEO, Eddie Hearn. Shortly after, Kieron signed a contract with Matchroom:

“I just need to stay with Matchroom,” Kieron said, “that’s what I want and what I aimed for when I turned pro. I told myself, ‘I’m not going anywhere until Matchroom offer me a contract that I’m happy with.’ That’s where I want to be and I need to keep winning and putting on good performances.”

Kieron joins a stacked domestic roster of super welterweights signed to Matchroom boxing, with the likes of Scott Fitzgerald, Anthony Fowler and even Kell Brook recently moving into the division. Competition is not a daunting prospect for Kieron, being someone who relishes a challenge, as he said:

“I think I can definitely be British champion in my next fight, no matter who the opponent is, whether it’s either Fowler or Fitzgerald, or even if it ends up being Cheeseman again. Definitely, in the future, I’ll be at the top of that list. I’ve got a lot more strength and power than people seem to think in the boxing world. I’m also a lot tougher than I look. I think people underestimate me all the time.”

Kieron’s work ethic will certainly not be a stumbling block on his route to the top, with him saying:

“Training with people with similar ambitions to me is really important. It annoys me when I’m around people that don’t have the same aspirations, people who are just there to go through the motions. I just totally distance myself from that now. It’s massively important to have people with a good mentality around you.”

In Kieron’s eye’s, there is only one distraction outside of boxing that threatens to cast his hard work redundant and prevent him from achieving his goals, and that comes in the slightly unorthodox form of… a pot noodle:

“When I’m not in training camps, I do like having a few pot noodles.” Kieron explained, “I honestly do think that’s the hardest thing because even when I’m not fighting, like now, I’m still training and eating healthily. But, when It gets to about 8pm at night I just really fancy pot noodles, I don’t know why. It’s not even the diet in general, it’s just pot noodles after 8pm.”

Kieron’s next fight was scheduled for the 24th of April, on the undercard of the world title fight between Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas at the Doncaster Dome. A fight card that was cancelled due to the coronavirus:

“It was frustrating,” Kieron said, “I was really looking forward to getting back, but we’re all in the same situation. My last fight was in December, so even if I fight in July that’s still six months, which is a long time to be out of the ring when I’m young and ready to go all the time, and it could even be longer than that.”

Fortunately for Kieron he has sponsors to provide a source of income while he is unable to fight, as he acknowledged:

“I have some good sponsors. to an extent I do need that boxing money, but I have sponsors who look after me really well, like S&D paving, they have been there since my fourth fight, and without them I’d still have to have some sort of job on the side. They do help out a massive amount, and a company called financial markets online, between them they keep me going through the months, without having to rely on fight money.”

Kieron also has the option of another career path to fall back, as he admitted:

“My Grandma always tells me that I could be a model!”

Going forward, Kieron wants to move quickly in terms of his boxing career, but he is also aware that age is on his side, as he said,

“This year I wanted to box for the British title at least, but I don’t know what the plans are now because this coronavirus has pushed everything back at least six months, so we’ll just have to see. I’m not in any rush, because I’ve got years left, as long as I stay healthy. But, I’m in no mindset to take my time. If that British title fight was offered again, I’d take it.

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