Chad Sugden: “I Am Looking Forward To Shocking A Lot Of People Again”
By Oliver McManus
Newark’s Chad Sugden was one of few British boxers to have a big clash pencilled in prior to lockdown: a fight with Shakan Pitters for the British light-pheavyweight title at the end of March.
Pitters was initially due to face Craig Richards, that fight had been announced in December 2019, before Sugden emerged as a late replacement. When the nation went into lockdown the future of the bout was uncertain; would they try to salvage the initial contest or look for an alternative choice of opponent?
Fast forward five months and Pitters and Sugden are a few days away from having it out on August 22nd, live on Channel 5. Chad Sugden began by telling me he was pleasantly surprised to get the call up for a second time.
“It’s amazing, really, to be fighting because we were never certain the fight was going to go ahead let alone behind closed doors. When we got the phone call sort of confirming both of those things they said ‘can you be ready for August?’ and that was never even a question in my mind; I’d been keeping myself fit waiting for the phone call, just as I had even when Craig Richards was meant to be Shakan’s opponent. You’ve got to keep fit and ready to go because you don’t get many chances to challenge for the British title.”
Mick Hennessy’s show will be staged at a bespoke production studio in the Midlands and follows in the restart footsteps of Queensbury Promotions, Matchroom Boxing and MTK Global. All three promotions have notched viewing figures muched discussed but there’s nothing quite like the lure of terrestrial television: Sam Sexton vs Hughie Fury reached 2.9million viewers on Channel 5 in May 2018.
That sizeable audience isn’t lost on the 26 year old who is keen to display some fireworks for those at home.
“Hopefully people will like what they see because this is a huge opportunity to showcase my skills to a wider audience. Obviously it’s massive for my sponsors as well who have supported me from day one and throughout this pandemic. The fight in Sky has prepared me for what to expect in terms of the set up and the processes of fighting on TV but being on Channel 5 is another step up: it’s a whole different audience and obviously everyone can watch for free, too.”
The bright lights of television are no stranger to Chad Sugden who last December took on Craig Richards on Sky Sports. That particular contest was offered on around a week’s notice and was a bizarre choice for Richards given he’d already had his British title fight for the new year. Perhaps predictably the script was not adhered to and 2Slick proved almost too much for the London man.
“For sure I was looking to continue with that (momentum) from last year but there was always that frustration that it was only a draw (against Craig Richards). On Saturday I’ve got that extra bit between my teeth, it’s set me up perfectly, to go out there and make sure I get the win. I’m excited to put on a great show for the fans at home and it’s going to be a new challenge for me with what Shakan brings to the table but I’m looking forward to it.
“This fight will show a different side of me because I’m a lot more confident in my conditioning. I believe I’ll be able to start faster than beforehand and keep that pace going throughout the rounds. Obviously against Craig Richards he had the better the start and that went against me on the scorecard but we’ve corrected that and hopefully it’ll show on August 22nd.”
A lot of what Pitters “brings to the table” relates to his superior height and reach. The long and lanky (in its most positive sense) 31 year old registers some six inches taller than Sugden but the Nottinghamshire man was unsure as to whether that would be beneficial for his opponent.
“I think you can use his height as both a disadvantage and an advantage. He’s used to fighting smaller people so that’s going to be nothing new to him but he’s never fought anyone with my sort of movement. At the end of the day whatever advantage his height brings to him is going to be lost in strength when we dig deep: we’ve both got to make weight and he’s 6’6” shrinking down to 175lbs and that can’t be easy for anyone.”
As awkward as that height differential may be, Sugden believes Shakan Pitters will have his hands full trying to deal with his distinctive movement. Sugden comes from a family of fighters and was distinguished as a kickboxer: ranked #2 by Glory and a former ISKA world champion. That background was well-rooted into his boxing foundations and it came to the fore against Craig Richards who just couldn’t pin the Newark man down.
His movement could well be the difference in this fight.
“Obviously I’ve fought in a lot of different styles of kickboxing and there’s huge variations to the styles in MMA. Having competed in that for a number of years it’s had to adapt to loads of different situations. Obviously it’s becoming more appropriate for boxing since I turned professional but that doesn’t take away from that kickboxing background which is a bit like muscle memory. I have got that unconventional footwork that you can’t really teach without having spent years away from boxing so I certainly think that plays into my favour because how do you prepare for that?”
August 22nd, then, is the biggest night of Chad Sugden’s life to date who looks to establish himself in a thriving domestic scene at 175lbs. If the 26 year old can emerge with the win then countless possibilities open up for the light heavyweight. He concluded our conversation by dedicating a special thank you to those responsible for getting the fight back on track.
“I am looking forward to shocking a lot of people again. I am the underdog according to the bookies and there’s still a people looking past me which is mental after the last fight. I’ve got to say fair play to Channel 5 and Mick Hennessy for putting on the fight when they could have done anything over lockdown: find a different opponent or go a different route altogether.
“Thank you to them for letting me ruin their plans because they’ve signed up Shakan Pitters presumably wanting him to be one of the faces of boxing on Channel 5 but they’re going to have think of a plan B once I beat him.”