Johnny Fisher: “I will put it all to the test on Saturday and I will show what I can do.”
By Chandler Waller
The bull has been depicted through popular culture as a menacing creature. Whether it be the aggressive reaction to the colour red or thrashing around to eject the human riding atop them that sticks in your mind, the brute force of the hulking animal has shown that it’s nothing to be reckoned with.
Romford has it’s own bull entering the ring, except the bull is a human who also goes by the name Johnny Fisher. The 21-year-old makes his professional debut on Saturday’s Avanesyan-Kelly undercard.
“It will be brilliant. I’ve been training since August last year since I’ve been with Mark, it’s all coming to a head now. I could not have prepared any better than what I have so I’m itching to go now.” Fisher told FightPost.
“I’ve been given a chance and I’m not raving about how good I am or what I can do. I will put it all to the test on Saturday and I will show what I can do. If it’s anything like I know I can do, I’ll do really well, but you never know what can happen in heavyweight boxing – you can’t take anything for granted.”
A lot of eyes are fixated on the glorious top division, searching for the next World heavyweight champion. Knockouts are often expected from these giants, but for this 6’5 pro debutant, a win by any means necessary is the priority on Saturday night.
“What’s important is I win. That’s the bottom line, all you’ve got to do in boxing is win. If I get the stoppage, fantastic, it’s really good and I will be looking for it when the opening’s there, but I’m not forcing it.
“All I’m doing is getting behind my jab and dominating the centre of the ring, and from there whatever happens happens. If I come out and I do the full four rounds, fantastic if I looked good and I boxed well.”
It doesn’t take long to see the modest character that Fisher is, who understands that there are other more accomplished fighters than himself, but it’s the dedication and willingness to be better that stands out for the Essex man.
“There’s massive pressure on me because I’ve been given this platform. A lot of boxers are probably looking at me at the minute that have had more experience than me and they think who’s this kid who’s been given this chance.
“I have worked really hard to get here, and I’ve been in the right place at the right time, but I’ve got skills and I’ve got potential and I’m going to show it. I might get to English, British, European or World level, but whatever I do it’ll have been because I tried hard.
“I’ve had Tyson Fury shouting me out on Instagram, giving me a good luck message which was brilliant and other guys who are watching me. There’s going to be a lot of eyes on the Matchroom show so I’ve got to do my best.”
The World heavyweight championship is the most glorified title in boxing, names such as Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Joe Louis and many more associated with it. For Fisher, it’s one step at a time but he can’t help but dream of his ultimate goal.
“Everyone who is a heavyweight boxer wants to be the World heavyweight champion. That’s the dream. There’s got to be a plan for the dream, and at the minute the start of that plan is winning on Saturday night.
“Obviously I want to be a champion, but I don’t want to overlook anyone and I never will because that’s not a wise thing to do in this sport. All that matters is winning on Saturday night.”
A champion of some sort he may become, under the guidance of Mark Tibbs. The heavyweight debutant is looking to forge his own name as a fighter in a similar manner to that of Dillian Whyte.
“It’s brilliant learning from Mark, he’s been there and done it with Dillian Whyte obviously and his dad before him has countless years of experience.”
“The way Dillian Whyte improved from Joshua when Mark took him on in 2015 and where he got him to in terms of winning eleven fights out of eleven, if I can replicate even half of that I’ll be in a great position at the start of my career. That’s definitely a great blueprint to follow.”
Whyte was consistently regarded as one of the most improved heavyweights in British boxing after the Joshua defeat. Now, after a second defeat has struck Whyte’s career, Fisher is hoping those improvements lead to revenge when The Body Snatcher collides with Alexander Povetkin on March 6.
“I think Dillian Whyte boxed really well last time, I think the only thing he missed was when he knocked Povetkin down, he should’ve gone for the kill.
“I think when you see that opening as a heavyweight you’ve got to take it. If he executes a similar game plan, he’s not going to win because Povetkin, a seasoned professional, Olympic Gold medallist with acres of experience and power – you can’t take any chances against these types of guys.
“I’ve still got something in the back of my mind saying it’s going to be Povetkin again, but I really hope Whyte can pull through because he deserves a World title shot after all the hard work, I’m a big fan.”
As well as Mark Tibbs, Johnny Fisher also joined forces with boxing management company S-JAM to launch his professional career. However, the friendship with manager Sam Jones stems back before the pandemic, when a simple message on social media would take him on an unimaginable journey.
“I just asked Sam out of the blue by messaging on Instagram ‘does Joe need any sparring?’ he said ‘yeah come up’ and there was never any inkling of me turning professional with Sam Jones, I thought it was just a great achievement to go and spar Joe.
“They asked me [to fly] out to Vegas, when he was preparing for Dubois. There wasn’t even an inkling there that I was going to turn pro.”
“When we came back in the summer, he said ‘look if you wanna turn pro – you know where to come John’. I thought there’s not many better out there than Sam Jones in your corner, so I took it whilst I could.”
That once in a lifetime opportunity would however pose a potential threat to Fisher’s studies, who was at the time in the final year of his History degree at Exeter University.
“I was on track for a first, I was told if I went out there I’d sacrifice getting a 1st, but I was happy with getting a 2:1 because it gives me access to all of my career paths afterwards.
“I was writing my dissertation out there, I was doing my final specialist subject assessment out there, and I had to finish it all off when I came back here during lockdown whilst I was helping my dad with his business.
“It was quite hectic but it’s quite an achievement to get it all done and pass my degree. I could’ve just said I’m going down the boxing route and dropped the degree but I managed to still get it.”
The hard graft continued when he arrived back home and the pandemic struck, putting his dad’s business in a difficult position – one which Johnny felt like he needed to help.
“He sells cheese to other suppliers around London and the suppliers are usually restaurants. So when lockdown happened, all our customer base was wiped out – it was like 95% down.
“So we started selling meat and doing home deliveries instead, just to keep some cashflow going, we was doing that till one or two in the morning most nights. I’d come back, finish my dissertation and then train after that so, it was very stressful but, we have to do it to survive.”
Despite the stressful situation that the 6’5 giant overcame, there was a unique experience given to him. When ‘The Romford Bull’ met ‘The Juggernaut’, it was an unexpected learning curve for the Essex man.
“When you first start sparring Joe, you’re just in awe that he’s a giant man. To go in there and do rounds with him when I was only eighteen was fantastic for my confidence to start with. Watching Joe – how relaxed and laid back he is, that’s a huge part of being a professional boxer.
“If you’re on edge all the time you’re not going to last very long. That’s the main thing I’ve learned from Joyce, his general demeanour – he’s laid back, relaxed and calm.
“It’s different to amateur where you’re intense all the time and you’re trying to nip in shots here and pity patty shots there, but it’s about being controlled and calm, that’s what I’ve learned from Joe, sparring him.”
Joe Joyce landed the biggest win of his career at the end of last year with a crushing tenth round stoppage of heavyweight rival Daniel Dubois. Now the Olympic gold medallist eyes up a potential showdown with amateur foe Oleksandr Usyk. Speaking to FightPost, Fisher gave his breakdown:
“Joe is a friend now as well, so I’m backing Joyce to win this one. If I’m looking at it from an impartial perspective, I looked at their fight in the WSB and Joe looks completely different to then, he’s matured.
“Over five rounds, you could probably lean towards Usyk, but over twelve rounds I think the work rate and the shape that Joe is in now starting camp, I think it’ll be too much, a late stoppage or a points win for Joe.”
Being alongside such expert company can only benefit Fisher’s career, who admits his inexperience may come as an inconvenience. The pro debutant will learn on the job instead of opting for an extensive amateur career, a choice that is deemed popular by many boxers coming through the amateur circuit.
“When we say these people aren’t experienced because they’ve had 20 or 30 amateur fights, I’ve had four senior fights, so I’m really inexperienced.
“I am going to be taken quite slowly. It’s going to be hard on Matchroom and Sam Jones, but they understand my position. When the pandemic hit, Sam Jones offered me to turn pro in the summer, I thought there’s no point staying amateur, there’s not going to be any boxing going on for a long time so why not give it a go and see what happens.”
Only time will tell if Fisher’s hard work will pay off. It’s ironic that his trip to Vegas would see him gambling his university degree, as on Saturday night he rolls the dice on that short amateur career to start his journey in the pros.