Anthony Fowler: Looking To Move Past Fitzgerald Onto Bigger & Better Things

Anthony Fowler: Looking To Move Past Fitzgerald Onto Bigger & Better Things

By Cameron Temple

“My career doesn’t revolve around Scott Fitzgerald. It would be nice to fight him again, but if I don’t, I won’t lose any sleep over it.”

Such is the attitude of Liverpool’s Anthony Fowler on a potential rematch with Preston based rival Fitzgerald.

His rival has had well documented personal problems of late, which could hinder a potential rematch between the two former GB team mates, and deprive Fowler of the chance to redeem his only career loss.

“I got told I would be fighting Scott in July,” said Fowler, “but obviously he’s had those problems, so I don’t know what will happen now. It’s really frustrating not being able to fight, but there’s a lot worse going on in the world, so I can’t really complain.”

Fowler originally fell to defeat against Fitzgerald by way of split decision in a hard-fought contest at the Echo arena in Liverpool, just over a year ago:

“It was horrible and I got really upset.” Admitted Fowler, “I went on holiday, but I couldn’t really enjoy my holiday because I was feeling down. It wasn’t nice, because I wasn’t prepared for it at all. I was one hundred percent confident I was going to win, so it was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but I always regroup and come back strong. I’ve done that my whole life. I’ve lost fights and I’ve always come back. I’m just hoping I get the rematch with Scott and I can put it right because I know I’m a better fighter than Scott is, I know I am, and no one can tell me any different.”

Fowler believes his attitude going into the bout cost him the victory:

“There’s confidence, and then there’s arrogance. I was a bit arrogant in the lead up to that fight. I just didn’t think for a second that I could’ve lost and I dismissed Scott as a fighter. I just thought he wasn’t dedicated, because as a pro he’s always been missing fights and coming in overweight, so I didn’t really take him seriously.

“I was borderline arrogant and I got humbled on the night, but it’s done me good. I’ve learned from it and next time we fight I’ll be expecting the best possible version of Scott Fitzgerald, not the one I thought I was going to box, who’s not really that disciplined, not really dedicated. It’ll be different next time, believe me.”

Fowler also believes the intense war of words that built up prior to the fight had an adverse effect on his performance on the night:

“It was half my fault because I made a few comments to get a rise out of him and to get under his skin and wind him up. Someone told me to, so I did it. It made a bit of bad blood. I never had a problem with Scott and on the GB squad we were friends and we were cool. I just tried to play a few mind games, and tried to get in his head, but I think it worked against me. I’ve got no bad blood with the kid to this day.

“Obviously, he still takes the piss now and again on social media, just playing up to his fans, but I genuinely don’t wish him any harm. I was happy when he beat Ted Cheeseman and hopefully, we get a rematch for that British title.”

Since the setback, Fowler has bounced back in impressive fashion recording three victories in a row. The Liverpudlian considers the first of these fights, against the experienced Brian Rose, to be particularly special:

“One of my career highlights was beating Brian Rose, because I was main event on Sky Sports, top of the bill. It was a bit of a childhood dream of mine, to be main event in Liverpool in a big fight. So, that’s probably been my most enjoyable night.”

Moving forward, Fowler’s ambitions go much further than Scott Fitzgerald:

“I’ve always wanted to be a world champion since I was a kid and I’ve always believed that I’m capable. I know I’ve had that slip up at domestic level, but I’ve used that as a lesson, and I’ve really learned a lot. I’ve got world class attributes, so I know I can get there. I just need the right guidance and the right fights at the right time. I’ll put my one hundred percent effort in for the rest of my career so I can achieve my dream.”

In the immediate future, Fowler has his sights set on the British title:

“As far as I’m aware, Scott was getting mandated to fight James Metcalf for the British title. So, if he can’t fight Metcalf, I’m hoping they give me the fight with Metcalf. Then I can beat him, win the British title and defend it against Scott.”

When Fowler first entered a boxing gym at the age of eleven, the idea of British and world titles had not even entered his mind. Instead his only ambition was to become schoolboy champion:

“I needed a bit of direction in my life, because I didn’t have any purpose. I had nothing to look forward to, no goals. When I started fighting, I just wanted to be schoolboy champion, and I achieved that within 18 months. Then I wanted to box for England, and then I wanted to be the best in the country, and it just got more and more addictive, the more success I had, the more I got hooked.”

“I was born and raised in Lodge lane, and then I moved to Park Road. It’s a bit of a poor, run down area. There are not many opportunities growing up and living around there. There’s no money and no jobs, so I just found my way into boxing, and I really wanted to make it as a boxer, so I put all my effort into the sport and I still do to this day. That’s what makes me happy and gives me a bit of a purpose in life.”

Being from Liverpool, Fowler benefits from the passionate group of fans the city has to offer, support which Fowler values greatly:

“Liverpool’s a very tightknit city, everyone supports each other. You get a few people who are negative, as you do everywhere, but as a whole it’s good. Even people who don’t buy tickets off me specifically, still support me. So, it’s really nice, and I get a great reception in Liverpool.”

Given the lack of opportunities in his area, it’s important to Fowler that he acts as a role model for those in a similar situation to that which he found himself:

“If I hadn’t fallen into boxing who knows where I’d be, I could be a drug dealer, I could be a crook, I could be in jail. Luckily boxing got me away from all the shit in Liverpool that was around me and it kept me on the straight and narrow. So, I’d like to try and show young kids who have no money, no opportunities, no goals, not necessarily to be boxing, but as long as they work hard at whatever they do and if they work towards a goal every single day, they can achieve what they want. I’m living proof, because no one ever gave me a chance, people laughed at me when I said I wanted to be a boxer as a kid, so I know it can be done if you put the effort in.”

Fowler had an extremely decorated amateur career, fighting in over two-hundred bouts and winning a bronze medal at the World Championships, a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and qualifying for the Olympics in 2016, an achievement that Fowler is immensely proud to this day:

“It was amazing. I was really proud to be at the Olympics representing my city, myself and my family. I’m still really proud to be able to call myself an Olympian. Not many kids from Liverpool can say that.”

Although, unfortunately for Fowler, his dream of medalling at the Olympics did not quite come to fruition:

“The year before I was ranked number one in Europe and I was in a really strong position. Then I had a bad nose injury in 2015 and I couldn’t train or spar because I had a blood clot in my nose. I missed the European and World championships and I had no fights, so I lost all my ranking points, which set me back a lot.

“I never quite recovered from that and I never reached the level I was at, which was disappointing, but it happens, I’ve had bad luck with injuries. I also had a tough draw, because I boxed a world champion in my first fight. But I’ve had a lot of luck to get me to where I am today, so you have to take everything with a pinch of salt.”

Despite not being able to realise his own Olympic aspirations, Fowler holds out hope for those going to the Olympics with team GB in 2021:

“I think Peter McGrail has a good chance of winning a medal. He’s a better amateur boxer than I was. He’s been really successful as an amateur and he’s got the right style to medal in Tokyo, which I really hope he does because he’s a great lad. We’ve also got Pat McCormack who is one of the best amateurs we’ve ever had. If Pat McCormack wins a medal at the Olympics, in my opinion, he’s the best amateur boxer GB’s ever produced.”

In 2017 Fowler turned over to the professional ranks under the tutelage of Dave Coldwell and enjoyed a smooth transition, breezing past his first nine opponents with ease:

“I had a good experienced coach in Dave Coldwell. He worked a lot on my inside game that needed sharpening at the time and he improved my body shots. So, I adapted quite comfortably, but it was a bit too easy. I won all of my first nine fights easily. I never broke a sweat and I never had to dig in. I think that’s where I went wrong. I got a bit complacent when I boxed Scott because I thought it was just another easy fight. So that would be my advice for younger boxers coming through. I wouldn’t get matched so easily because you do get a bit complacent without even realising it’s happening.”

Fowler has since made a change, moving to Shane McGuigan’s gym, alongside the likes of world title contenders Luke Campbell and Lawrence Okolie:

“I’ve always admired Shane.” Fowler confessed, “I thought he was a great coach and he’s had a lot of success for a young guy. I like his training methods and the way he speaks. I’ve always respected the guy, so I thought I’d try Shane out first and straight away we clicked. I was happy with him so I thought there was no point looking around when I’ve found someone who I’m already happy with.”

Despite having worked with some world-renowned coaches, Fowler claims the biggest influence on his career has been his uncle, Robbie Fowler:

“When I was a young kid, he really pushed me. He gave me that competitive edge, because he was all about winning. Even though he’s died now, I still think of him a lot in training and he’s given me that mental edge to be able to push through the pain.”

Fowler hopes to make his return to the ring and give his fans something to look forward to as soon as the current situation with the coronavirus calms down:

“I’d like to have a fight in July and maybe three more fights before the end of the year if I’m lucky. I’ll fight whenever, I’d be happy to box everyday if I was allowed but I just need to get the fights.”

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