Bec Connolly: “I Feel I Am In a Win-Win Situation.”
In many ways, it has been a year to forget for Bec Connolly. Long-standing personal problems, financial woes, the pandemic has left its mark. But the voice on the other end of the phone isn’t one of self-pity or one that has lost all hope, the bubbly engaging personality still very much intact.
A few days before our interview the phone had rung, finally, it was news of a much-needed-fight, and a much-needed payday. Connolly returns this weekend for another tough assignment, the unbeaten house fighter Ramla Ali awaits, the latest in a seemingly never-ending line of battles against the odds.
“I got a phone call on Thursday asking if I was interested and asking what weight I could get down to. I said 128-130lbs, if I pushed it I could do 127. Then I thought they are not going to take it, that’s still too heavy, then I got the phone call on Sunday to say they would take the fight at 127.”
The late call means no proper training camp, the odds even further raised against her. But in typical Connolly fashion, there are no complaints, just an acceptance of where she is and what needs to be done:
“I love my fitness, I train all year round, but I have not been doing any boxing or sparring because I have been working flat out. But I have sparred the last 3 days which is a bit weird on fight week but it is what it is.”
In an ideal world and in normal times these types of fights would be best avoided for career purposes and progress. An upset seems unlikely, odds of 1/50 for Ali to win, indicate the fight is a mere formality. But Connolly sees the fight with Ali as an opportunity:
“It’s a bit too late in the day to start turning down fights and you won’t then get the TV slots. I can’t wait to fight in front of my own fans in Swindon and pick my opponent, but equally, I don’t want to go back to small hall boxing. I want to keep doing this now and the only way to do that is to keep testing yourself and take these types of fights.”
Connolly is under no illusions about the size of the task she faces at Wembley, but equally, she sees it as a fight where she will lose very little. Expectations are low, but there is also no pressure. Entering a fight as the opponent, the away fighter, you are normally picked for a reason. But Connolly has been here before, taking fights at the wrong time, for different reasons. Her record of 3-8 hides plenty, some of those eight defeats are to elite fighters, and the likes of Ellie Scotney, who most recently beat her, are destined for world titles down the line. Connolly still has ambitions, Saturday night might be about other things, a required necessity to pay the bills, to put food on the table for her four children, but the fire still burns:
“People keep saying I am crazy taking this fight, no proper training camp and losing all that weight. But I feel I am in a win-win situation. I have got a payday, so I am earning. Even if I lose and lose badly, I have taken this fight on 6 days notice, a 3-day training camp, people will know the reasons for it. I also get to do what I love doing. If I do win, then it sets up the year for me, so I can’t really lose.”
Connolly is a born fighter inside and outside of the ring. Recent problems have been highlighted elsewhere. There have been money woes, like many, the pandemic has hit harder than any opponent inside a boxing ring could. With no fights on the horizon, Connolly took to finding work wherever she could. Periods of industrial cleaning and scaffolding, a sign of the times, a sign of what Connolly is about. She could have crumbled, she chose to fight:
“After the last fight against Ellie Scotney in October my life just dissolved into chaos with the problems I was dealing with at the time, that was really traumatic. Then the personal training and nutrition business completely shut down because of the lockdown and because I am self-employed I had no furlough, nothing. I needed clients to keep ticking over and they are now completely gone. With the Army, we are also on shutdown because of Covid, so that income went as well. Then around Christmas time, I decided to move house to sort some issues out at home. But that took me by surprise how much money that would cost me, but I thought things will be back to normal soon, and then we went into an even harder lockdown. I thought we are in a really bad place now, so I took whatever work I could get.”
The money from the fight on Saturday will buy Connolly time, before the grind begins again and the wait for the phone to ring with fight news once again. It is very hard not to gravitate to Connolly and her struggles. People can inspire you in many different ways, Connolly ticks a lot of boxes.
The odds are firmly stacked against her, Ramla Ali is expected to win, but in these crazy unpredictable times nothing seems impossible. A win would change many things in her life, few would begrudge Connolly her moment if the unexpected happens.