James Moorcroft: “I’ve Never Been As Ready For A Fight.”
By Will Lott
Wigan welterweight hopeful James Moorcroft came to the sport later than most and took a more unorthodox route into the professional ranks than most.
Having trained in boxing before as a teenager, he returned to train again at 20 and this time stuck with it.
“I started off in an MMA gym and trained for about four months. I met my old boxing coach there and one thing led to another and I started boxing again. With my old coach we went down the unlicensed route and I had twelve fights before I ended up turning pro.”
Having played and watched sports all his life, from football to rugby, it was MMA which turned James’ head, having watched fights during the era of Ronda Rousey’s dominance.
“It was when she was in training camps with Nick Diaz and I’d always liked Nick Diaz. It all came together and I just thought I’ll go and try MMA.”
The life of a professional boxer is intense with many fighters calling it a lonely sport. However, the change in lifestyle wasn’t too much for James.
“During the unlicensed fights, I put myself through it. I thought if I’m doing this I’m doing it properly. You don’t have to give up everything but you have to say to yourself, I can’t be socialising, drinking and staying out late. I have to give it everything because this is no game. I still haven’t got a life.”
One issue many fighters can have is the need to sell tickets. Fighters on small hall shows need to be able to draw a support base to continue being given opportunities.
“I’ve had fantastic sponsors from the start and I’ve got a lot of friends around my area so everyone has helped out in a massive way. My dad sells tickets in a pub called the Elsmere Pub and we all go there before the fights. For my next fight I’m begging for more tickets because they’re only allowing 700. Everyone has been amazing. Everyone around me buys tickets and comes to support me.”
As with many fighters James started off fighting as many as four times a year against the journeymen style of opposition which are so crucial to the progress of an up and coming fighter.
“They were fantastic learning fights for me. They were never the same so I was always learning and processing new information. You have to be on your game or these guys can turn you over. They know how to win and without them you wouldn’t have any prospects.”
As with many fighters, James has had to deal with the impact of lockdown. He has only been able to get out once in 16 months when he suffered a defeat to Martin Harkin.
“We took the fight and I believe I can beat Martin Harkin. I got beat by the better man on the night but I believe I’m ready for him if he ever wants it again. A few things didn’t go right.”
Two months later and the country was put into lockdown as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
“I had a fight booked in for the 10th March because I wanted to put things back right but unfortunately it never happened. I believe in the defeat to Harkin that was probably 30% of me and I wanted to fix that.”
Since then James has teamed up with former WBA lightweight champion Anthony Crolla and believes he has learned from the mistakes of the last fight. Discussing his new trainer, James mentioned possible mental benefits to the new regime.
“When you get beat you obviously have doubts in your mind about why you got beat and Ant has told me where I went wrong whereas I wasn’t getting told what was going wrong before. If a world champion who fought Lomachenko (a three weight world champion) believes in me, it is massive for me. To have a champion telling me I’m going to win this fight is huge.”
Many fighters rely on boxing as their main source of income but luckily for James his sponsors have come through.
“My sponsors are the best thing that have happened to me in boxing. They’ve been supporting me even through these uncertain times and have pulled it out the bag for me and I can’t thank them enough for that. Without them I couldn’t be a full time boxer especially through a pandemic. My family have helped me out in places too so I have a good backing and I’m just glad to get a big fight on a big platform.”
James’ next fight will be against the unbeaten Anthony Tomlinson in his opponent’s home city of Sheffield.
“I believe I’m on that level with him and I know I have everything to beat him on the night. I’ve never been as ready for a fight. I’m going to show people I’m on the level and I’m ready to push on now. I just have to take everything in my stride. I’m just happy to be there and to get the win.”
James takes on Anthony Tomlimson on a Dennis Hobson promoted show on May 21st in Sheffield.