Joel McIntyre: “I have unfinished business in boxing.”
By Jake Ball
A laser-focused Joel McIntyre told me he has unfinished business in boxing after only 30 seconds of competitive boxing in almost 4 years, after his retirement in late 2018 but he is confident that he will be better than ever when he fights Chad Sugden for the English light-heavyweight Title on Friday 12th July.
Joel has been in the boxing business for 12 years now and has fought for the English title on three previous occasions, winning one of those. This Friday being the fourth time but will the time out of the ring change anything about how this fight might play out?
“I have unfinished business; I have to make a statement and show the best version of me.” He went on to add that in his retirement he had the time to reflect on his career and thought that he should have achieved more and would have done if he had been more dedicated.
Joel, now 34, is making his comeback. After a 30-second knockout win, in his comeback fight, last year is looking to carry that momentum and the new “hunger and drive” into his upcoming English Title fight where once again he’s looking to make a statement of intent. He is well aware time may not be on his side however, his dedication to boxing and hunger to prove himself mixed with his experience could be dangerous and may bring out a completely different fighter.
Joel retired in 2018 after falling out of love with the sport in his last English Title fight against Miles Shinkwin and he said he was absolutely done with boxing, he had deleted all his content from social media and went back to enjoying regular life again:
“Then 2020 happened, it was a hell of a year and made me think life is too short. I started to miss the boxing, I didn’t finish where I wanted to, my career was a rollercoaster, I was so mentally drained but the years away made me reflect. I wasn’t as into it as I should’ve been, I was never at it 100% and I want to put it right.”
Obviously coming back must have taken a lot and there must be ambition and when asked about his comeback plans Joel said:
“I have a plan, but you must take it one fight at a time, it would be silly not to, but I do have a plan.”
How were those first few sessions back in the gym after 2+ years out of the gym?
“The first thing you do after so long away from boxing is hit the bag for 30 seconds and it feels like your arms are going to fall off. I stayed fit but there’s exercise and there’s boxing training. Exercise is easy to a certain extent. Letting my hands go was tough but you just push through and build into it.”
How was the preparation for the comeback fight against Nikita Basin? How did it feel to box competitively again and get a stoppage win in your comeback?
“It felt great but it was exactly what I aimed to do, the fight was in October 2021 and I had been back boxing since October 2020, I was working two jobs and decided to run three miles a day as step one to build fitness, then kept stepping it up month by month and by the new year I was in a good place. At the beginning of 2021, I was like a monk. The return was a 30-second stoppage, it was a case of me putting in all this effort and I knew I had to make a statement. Before getting in the ring I knew in my head that if I could finish it in one big punch I would and I did that. The number of people that were there that said they blinked and missed it, I had to remind them it was a year in the making and you don’t get paid overtime in boxing.”
There was meant to be another fight in April 2022 however, the opponent never turned up, this means another big gap between fights, how has that affected your preparation for your next fight?
“It has been a long time but I’m not brand new to this game, I’ve been through the ups and downs and boxing can be a waiting game at times. The only thing for me is staying focused and using time wisely. My team are putting so much effort into helping me, it is what it is. In the build-up to this I’ve been quite fed up because I just want to get in there, but I will use that as an advantage, I can’t risk a mediocre fight I need to get in there and show something different and I will.”
You and Chad Sugden both seem hungry and determined to almost prove yourselves, would you say that this is a must-win fight for both of you?
“We are both in the same position, we are avoided fighters as we almost seem high risk – low reward, people don’t need to go near us, which is why we both need and want this title as it will allow us to move forward. I’ve been ready to go since January but finding an opponent has been a bit of a joke and I think this is a serious fight and I’m looking forward to it. But yeah, boxing is a harsh business, sometimes I think ‘why did I come back to this?’ I was really good at maths so I could’ve been an accountant or something but that probably wouldn’t be as fun, we are here now, and this fight is so soon, I’m so excited, I’m going to put this fight beyond doubt.”
Are you going into this fight to make another statement?
“All respect to Chad but yeah, of course, I’m going to bring the best me, if you look for the knockout it won’t come so I am going to stick to the plan and stay focused. I’m ready to go and show the best me. This is survival of the fittest, my team have never felt so confident, they’ve never seen me like this and I know I’ve put everything I can into this. I’ve suffered in this camp but that’s what you have to do, leave no stone unturned, it will come down to who is willing to suffer more, and my camp has put me through that. I’m going to cause an upset and bring that title home with me.”