Navid Mansouri: “I’m Over The Moon To Have This Opportunity”
By Cameron Temple
Over the previous few weeks of Matchroom’s hugely successful Fight Camp there have been some noteworthy bouts in the exciting domestic super-welterweight division.
On week one, Sam Eggington and Ted Cheeseman headlined the show, with the latter winning by unanimous decision to rectify a three-fight winless streak and put himself back in contention for the coveted Lonsdale belt.
On week two, Anthony Fowler outclassed Adam Harper in a one-sided affair that saw Fowler dispatch his opponent in the seventh round and move one step closer to a sought-after rematch with Scott Fitzgerald.
This week, Kieron Conway and Navid Mansouri provide the entertainment in the super welterweight division, with Conway looking to score himself a rematch with Ted Cheeseman and Navid hoping to reintroduce himself to the British fans in style.
This will be Navid’s first fight on his home soil since July 2017, when he beat Jordan Grannum on points in Sheffield.
“I’m over the moon to have this opportunity,” Navid said, “I really am, and what a show to come back to as well on Sky Sports. I didn’t know when boxing would be back on, so I’d have to class myself as lucky to get on a show and I’m really happy with it.”
Over the years, having turned over to the professional ranks in 2009, Navid has gained a wealth of experience in his fights and also at the gym.
“I have a lot of experience, not only just in the ring fighting wise, but I’ve sparred everybody. All of the world champions, European champions, British, Commonwealth, English and even area title holders.
“I’m on my game for this fight,” Navid continued, “a lot of the time you can be physically right, but not mentally, and the difference has been for this fight, that I’m mentally there as well, not just physically. I’m ready for a world title, not just a fight, so I’m in the best form and shape I could possibly be, mentally and physically.”
Despite Navid’s confidence in his own abilities he is not getting ahead of himself and overlooking the dangerous Kieron Conway.
“Kieron’s got skills,” Navid admitted, “it’s a fight that’s put fire in my belly and I want to train really hard, but I’m not going to predict a knockout or anything. knockouts just come if they come as a bonus, I’m not going to try and bomb him out or anything.”
“I’m there to box and I want a good hard ten rounds and that’s what I’m prepared for. I wish it was twelve rounds, but it’s ten and I’m prepared to go to the tenth round.”
As has been the case throughout Fight Camp, this card will take place behind closed doors, but that is not a concern for Navid, “when you get in that ring, your focus is on your job and you just switch. I’m one of them who could be all over the show, but as soon as I’m in that ring and the bell goes, I’m different.”
The card will be live on Sky Sports from 7pm and with televised bouts often playing into the nerves of fighters it would be fair to assume Navid was feeling the pressure, but once again he brushed the issue aside.
“I never really feel any pressure and if anything, I just perform better under pressure. It makes you sharper, more alert and you do things right without making mistakes. So, it will only work in my favour, not against me.”
In 2015, Navid achieved what he described as the highlight of his career, winning the English title, but shortly after came his lowest moment as he ruptured his Achilles tendon, which caused him to miss out on a British title shot with Liam Williams, and Navid would not return to the ring for two years.
“At that time, a lot of people said that to me that I needed to get a job and earn some money, but I always had it in the back of my head that boxing was the one for me. I had the same hunger all the time and I knew I would come back.”
“People told me to call it a day,” Navid continued, “they said it was pointless to carry on and it would take a lot of time to get back into it after getting out of shape, but god willing, I’ve been blessed and I’m back stronger than ever.”
After taking some time out, moving to Marbella and starting a family, Navid has found a new drive and motivation for boxing, a lot of which can be attributed to his son, Leon.
“My drive is my family,” Navid revealed, “especially my son Leon, the little lion Leon. So, I have to make sure I’m a champ for him.”
Another contributor to Navid’s renewed passion for boxing has been his trainer, Kevin Lilley, “We clicked straight away. He was out in Marbella once and we got on with each other immediately and it was the right fit. When the opportunity came, he said, ‘I’m here if you need me and I’ve got sparring and everything,’ so it’s been bang on and this is the best I’ve ever felt in a camp, conditioning wise.”
Nowadays, Navid, whose record stands at 20-3-2, sees those hard times as experience gained, and with his family and new team behind him, he is more ready than ever to push on.
“I look at it as if it’s a blessing. At the time, I was so gutted, but everything happens for a reason and I needed the losses to have this opportunity to fight Kieron Conway, because they would’ve looked passed me if I didn’t have those losses.”
“So, those defeats put me in this position where I could be seen as an opponent, which I’m not, but it’s my choice now, my opportunity to show them why I’m not an opponent.”
In terms of progression, Navid wants to maintain his new drive and take advantage of this second chance he has been given in boxing.
“I want to get the victory and afterwards look to fight as soon as possible,” Navid said, “I’d like to keep active now while I’ve got a great team around me and my conditioning side has been wicked. I’ve never had such a good camp in terms of making weight and feeling fit, so I want to stay in these kinds of camps and stay active as much as possible, so I’m game to take whichever fight comes.”
“I’m still fresh and I want to go all the way. I want to be in exciting, meaningful fights and especially title fights. The sky is the limit!”
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing