Nicola Hopewell: “It’s good having a friend like Ebanie, because if you have someone just telling you what you want to hear you are never going to improve in anything.”

Nicola Hopewell: “It’s good having a friend like Ebanie, because if you have someone just telling you what you want to hear you are never going to improve in anything.

The Nicola Hopewell story had its latest chapter on Saturday night in Kent. The long journey down from Nottinghamshire was rewarded in many ways. Another win, another stoppage and valuable rounds in the bank. Hopewell will benefit greatly from her latest outing. The fight lasted 4 seconds shy of 6 rounds, and Hopewell told FightPost the day after the fight it was her favourite fight so far:

“I really enjoyed it, I think it was one of my best fights, certainly the one I enjoyed the most. I got 6 rounds in and I really enjoyed the fight.”

Ivette Garcia came over from Spain and left having giving her British opponent a valuable learning fight. Garcia absorbed plenty, probably more than she should have done, and nobody would have blamed her if she had retired on her stool on a night where Hopewell showed her class. The winner was certainly appreciative of her opponent’s toughness:

“She was really tough, I felt I was throwing everything at her, she was taking some really heavy shots. I thought after the 4th round she might not come back out. But she did and just kept coming which showed that she had come to win.”

Fighting for an extended period of time on Saturday allowed Hopewell the opportunity to showcase her ongoing improvements. There were small doubts in her mind about possibly having to go the distance, but those fears are now eradicated, her confidence will grow further as a result. There were times when she perhaps smothered her work a little, but she adjusted well in the closing rounds to force the stoppage. Hopewell can be extremely proud of her night’s work and the fighter herself can see the improvements and where she needs to improve further:

“I can definitely see the improvements, especially in this fight and also with my fitness. I was a little nervous about going 6 rounds, to be honest, but I was alright and I felt I could do a few more as well. My corner told me to slow down a little in the 5th round, he felt I rushed the 4th round a little and I am fighting in a few weeks time as well. Cris told me to stay back a bit more and use my jab in the 5th round and that helped in the 6th round as well.”

Hopewell came out throwing big punches from the opening seconds of the fight, and a very quick night looked on the cards. But Garcia wouldn’t be moved easily and Hopewell would have learned much from her opponent’s refusal to buckle:

“I think you learn plenty from that sort of fight. Like in the 1st round I came out really quick and Cris told me I had come out a bit too quick. So I think the main thing I learned from this fight is how to pace myself better. I also think I smothered my work a little, and when I am on the inside there are definitely a few things to work on like keeping my hands up a little more which I already knew. Ebanie (Bridges) had noticed and pointed out that I drop my hands a little too much. So I have been working on that.”

The 6th round was where we saw the best of Hopewell. Keeping the fight at range, using her jab, the impressive footwork was evident and it allowed her to find what she needed to record her fourth finish in 4 fights:

“I thought the 6th round was my best round and I thought she came out firing shots a little more as well. I was picking my shots a bit more. The punch I caught her with was my left hook which surprised me a little because the bigger shots I had caught her with were with my right hand. Coming out for the final round I didn’t think I would stop her and I actually felt a bit sorry for her with only 4 seconds left to go in the fight.”

There is no rest for Hopewell, a full schedule is planned for the rest of the year, and in just a few weeks Hopewell is back:

“I’m out again on the 4th September in Brighton for the WBL European title against Cristina Pacheco. After that I am hoping to box for the WIBA interim title and then the world title after that. After the rematch with Tasha, I told them I wanted a step up and I got that on Saturday and I have another in September. Pacheco has had a lot of fights and is decent. She has only been stopped once and has won around half of her fights.”

There is a blossoming friendship between Hopewell and the Australian Ebanie Bridges. They are very close and Bridges is never one to shy away from speaking her mind, and that honesty could be very important for her friend going forward:

“I’ve spoken to Ebanie quite a lot over the last few days. She said there are bits to improve on but overall she is really proud of me and that means the world to me. It’s good having a friend like Ebanie, because if you have someone just telling you what you want to hear you are never going to improve in anything. Ebanie is honest and real with me, if she didn’t tell me to work on something I wouldn’t work on it, I trust her opinions.”

There is no doubt that Hopewell is a real prospect and her inner circle deserves immense credit for getting her to where she is now. The Worksop fighter recently went to Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp to cheer on her Australian friend and will no doubt have thought about boxing on a similar stage herself. There is talk of leaving BIBA and going elsewhere, but if Hopewell is happy where she is that should be respected.

But equally, if there are ambitions to test her skills under a different banner then that should also be respected.

There are opportunities out there with women’s boxing on a different circuit currently in a boom period. Matchroom have pushed the sport recently, Fightzone are now featuring more and more females on their shows, other promoters also, and with Sky in the process of building a stable of female fighters there is every chance her phone will ring. If it does, then the opportunity should at the very least be explored, it would be unfair on the fighter herself for it not to be.

I understand fully that those with BIBA connections want to keep their top talent, but Hopewell has one career, one chance, the fighter and her wishes should come before any loyalty elsewhere.

But if any move is forthcoming it would hopefully be with her current training set up if the obvious politics and other issues can be resolved to make that happen. There is a bond there and it would be good to see that continue.

For the immediate future, Hopewell will return early next month looking to extend her winning streak and set up whatever comes next.

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