On June 11, boxers Neil McCubbin and Matt Windle will contest for the Commonwealth Light-Flyweight title at Sheffield Arena Car Park.
They will be boxing for a title that has been vacated since 1987 and has not been held by a British fighter for 119 years. Ahead of the main event on a Dennis Hobson card, both fighters spoke to the Sheffield Wire ahead of their huge night.
It’s a pleasure to meet you both, please tell us a little bit about your background and career in boxing up to this date?
Neil McCubbin: “I started boxing between the ages of 11 and 12, from then I had 45 fights as an amateur, I won Scottish titles and was also a member of Team GB. I was always more suited to the pro game so after my last Scottish title I decided to turn pro and it’s been a really good move.”
Matt Windle: “I was an amateur for just under nine years, I won a couple of Midlands Titles and reached the quarter finals of National Championships, totalling 65 amateur fights. I’ve always boxed at senior level except for four fights aside after starting boxing when I was 15, I turned pro in 2015 and although my record does not look great, I feel like I won my previous two West Midlands title fights but now I’m moving onto bigger and better things.”
You are both fighting for a title that has been vacated since 1987, with Commonwealth champions in other divisions being household names such as Joe Joyce, Lyndon Arthur and Zelfa Barrett – how significant is this fight for you?
MW: “I used to watch every single Friday Fight Night religiously, and it was always a British, Commonwealth and/or European title fight on the line. It’s funny because I remember watching Carl Froch win one with Spencer McCracken in his corner and he’s now my trainer. To be there now challenging for a title, it’s huge, it’s almost like a childhood ambition coming true.”
NM: “The last British person who won it was in 1902. So for this to come about is a huge opportunity, so when I take this [title back] it is going to skyrocket! So yeah, I am looking forward to it.”
How has the support been back home?
NM: “Definitely, I have great support back home in Scotland. Coming down to Sheffield I am looking to bring a few bodies with me. The support back home is fantastic, but I will fight anywhere.”
MW: “It’s been really positive. People who know me or who have followed my journey think it’s deserved. These people have seen how hard I’ve been training for 12 months and they’re happy for me.”
What would winning the title do for your career?
MW: “It’s crazy, due to the weight division, I could only be a fight or two away from being somebody’s voluntary world title defence or competing for an intercontinental title. With the Commonwealth games (Birmingham 2022) coming around the corner next year it could be a huge boost to my career outside of boxing also.”
NM: “This would be the biggest fight of my career so far. I am only 22 so I have plenty of time to keep working through the levels, my main ambition is to get hold of the British title and to defend it. Anything above that [in my career] would be a bonus.”
Sunny Edwards won the IBF world flyweight title with victory over Moruti Mthalane last Friday, just how big was this victory for guys down at your weight category?
NM: “You cannot take anything away from Sunny, he’s beaten a fighter who was unbeaten in 13 years. He did what he had to do, it’s great because now the smaller guys are creeping up there. Previously the big fights were not with the big fighters but nowadays we’re seeing the small guys get more of a chance.”
MW: “It’s massive, we always talk about how many champions the UK have had but they have normally been heavyweights, middleweights and welterweights, so it was nice to see a flyweight top of the bill getting the victory. If somebody had done what Sunny did at a different weight more people would have been raving about it.”
What is your style of boxing and what can fans expect from you?
MW: “Largely my style depends on what my opponents are doing, sometimes I like to use the outer circle of the ring whilst other times I like to use the inner square. My last fight was in the top 10 British boxing fights of the year in boxing news, so I seem to be an exciting fighter also!”
NM: “Even in the amateurs, my style has been hands up and come forward but you cannot do that all the time. So I have been working in the gym on being in the pocket, moving, boxing counter-punching, all aspects of my game so I am ready for this big fight.”
How would you compare this to your previous fights- is this your biggest one and how do you feel about the step-up to 12 rounds?
NM: “It’s going to be my toughest fight to date, Matt is no pushover. I’m not overawed [about moving up to 12 rounds], obviously it’s a big step up as the highest amount of rounds I had done previously was six. I’ve been staying active and training as much as possible to prepare me for it.”
MW: “This is absolutely my biggest fight, 100%. [Stepping up to 12 rounds] is what I turned pro for! It annoys me when people moan about doing six rounds due to their fitness, I don’t want to sound too macho but if we could have done 15 rounds I would have done that. If you do not want to do 12 rounds then you should just stick to amateurs.”
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Why should fans get behind you for this fight?
MW: “I think there’s a multitude of reasons, it’s such a huge fight because I want to bring this historic title back to England. I really genuinely believe that this will be an exciting fight to watch, even for the casuals who want knock-downs and tear ups. So one for the boxing purists and armchair fans.”
NM: “I have got a fan-friendly style. For the casual fan it is fantastic because eight or nine times out of ten you will be watching a fantastic fight”
Do you have anything to say to your opponent before the fight?
NM: “He seems a very likable guy, so I wish him the best of luck and that the best man will win on the night.”
MW: “I hope he stays healthy because I don’t want the fight to fall through! But I look forward to meeting him, we’ll introduce one another by punching each other in the face before hopefully embracing after the fight over a beer or water.”
You can watch the fight online with Fightzone or you can purchase tickets for the show by calling Dennis Hobson Promotions on 0114 243 4443.