Nicola Hopewell: Looking To Shine In Her Hometown
By Hannah Lucas
Come Halloween, Nicola Hopewell will return to the ring eyeing yet another win and aiming to put the fear into her opponent.
But, this fight will be a particularly special one.
For the first time, the 30-year-old Worksop prospect will box in her home town. The sold out homecoming show will be the first time those closest to her will get to witness her as a master of the craft and she’s aiming to impress.
She said: “I’m excited, it’s first time I’ve boxed near home. This is my sixth fight and all my fights have been behind closed doors, or they’ve been three or four hours away. So, it’s the first time that a lot of my family and my close friends have been able to come to watch me.”
Throughout her time in boxing, Hopewell has put on plenty of stellar performances and experienced unique shows – including one which fell on her 30th birthday. The experience of turning 30 in the ring is one that she remembers well.
“I turned 30 on my last fight, that was quite funny. Because I boxed quite late, I was second to last on and I got in the ring at 29 and came out at 30. When I got out the ring it was 12.30am and after they’d said well done and stuff they just burst out into happy birthday,” she laughed.
But, with all focus on Sunday’s upcoming mission, with another title, comes another challenge. Hopewell is set to face a tough opponent in Sunday‘s showdown – Mary Aina Abbey from Nigeria, who she has described as a ‘puncher.’
Similarly to Hopewell, Abbey has a sterling record composed solely of wins by stoppage.
“I’ve had a quick look at her on YouTube. I’ve seen on her Boxrec that she’s had two fights and two stoppages. Then, I saw on Facebook or Instagram that she had a fight at the weekend and she won that by stoppage, which makes her 3-0 now and all stoppages as well, which is quite similar to my record. But, my last fight was the only fight that had gone the distance. So up until then, I’d had four fights and four KOs, but now I’ve had five fights and four KOs.
“It sounds like she’s a bit of a puncher but yeah, I’m excited,” Hopewell said.
However, not only is her latest opponent a hard hitter, she’s also southpaw, which brings another test for Hurricane Hopewell. Despite facing southpaw boxers earlier in her professional career, she’s had to once again turn her attention to learning how to dominate fighters of the stance in the ring.
“The previous camps I’ve done have gone quite well with the amount of strength and conditioning we’ve been doing and the pad work, the bag work and sparring, so the only difference with this one is she’s a southpaw.
My first two fighters were southpaw as well so, I’ve just been trying to get more southpaw sparring for this one and pad work where my coach is southpaw. We’ve just been going back to my first fight when I prepared for that one – just making sure I’m in the right place leading her strong hand and things like that.
“So that’s probably the main thing I’ve done for this one, because it’s not been that long since I was in camp for my last fight anyway. So, fitness wise I’ve just carried on from the last camp, so it’s just more the technique really.”
With the WBL European belt already in her possession and if she snatches the PBC Commonwealth super-flyweight Title on Sunday, the next stop for Hopewell will be a shot at the WIBA Interim flyweight World Title in Brighton on December 11.
The Sheffield United fan has already been branded a world champion in the making and it’s that title she has her sights set on as her career in the sport develops.
When asked if a world title bout could be on the cards one day, she replied: “Yeah definitely, I mean it is something I’m working towards. I think if I just work hard and carry on I don’t see why not. I don’t see why I can’t have an opportunity.”
Closely following her path to sporting superstardom is the Australian Blonde Bomber, Ebanie Bridges. The pair have struck up a close friendship and support each other as they navigate their hugely successful careers through the boxing world while flying the flag high for women in the sport. She’s set to tune into Hopewell’s fight from the other side of the world on Sunday.
“She’s one of my best friends. She’s back in Australia, but she’s definitely going to watch it yeah, she’s watched all my others – she’s a really big support to me.”
With Hopewell edging ever closer to her dream of becoming a world champion, she reflects back on where her boxing career first began. She took her first steps into the world of sport as a dancer, but later turned to the art of boxing. Though the two may be considered polar opposites, perhaps her younger years as a dancer helped perfect her sharp footwork, as boxing came natural to her.
“When I was age 5 to 17 I used to go dancing, so I was a dancer before I was a boxer. When I quit that, I got a job and was at sixth form.
“I was 23 when I took up boxing, so I had quite a few years out where I wasn’t doing any sport or anything. My coach only lives around the corner from me and he opened a gym. So, I just went down to get fit and then it just went from there really.
“I went to the woman’s boxercise fitness class but it didn’t really take off so he said I can attend the actual boxing class and do the same things. If I wanted to spar then I could get into it, but I soon got in to it, there was no holding me back and it was only six months since I started attending the proper boxing class that I had my first amateur fight.
“So, I took to it really well to be honest and then I just really knuckled down I think I was only there about four weeks and he said you can actually work towards a fight if it’s something you want to do. But originally I just went to get fit. It wasn’t until I started going to the academy class and started working with everyone else and body sparring and head sparring and he said you can do it you can just aim towards it, so I did.”
Hopewell’s fight will be available to watch on Cestus Events’ YouTube channel on Sunday, October 31, with the show beginning at around 1.30pm.