Frustration for Spartacus

IPSWICH boxer Steve Spartacus today spoke of his frustration after being denied a shot at a Commonwealth crown.But the 29-year-old light heavyweight is determined to put the disappointment behind him and bounce back to become British champion in his home town.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH boxer Steve Spartacus today spoke of his frustration after being denied a shot at a Commonwealth crown.

But the 29-year-old light heavyweight is determined to put the disappointment behind him and bounce back to become British champion in his home town.

Spartacus said: “I should have been fighting last week but after working hard to prepare for a fight everything fell through at the last minute.”

He has been out of action since February, when he registered his 19th win in 21 professional contests, and some people even thought he had quit the sport.

Spartacus added: “It has been driving me mad. People have either been asking me when I'm next fighting or if I'm still fighting.

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“I should have been in the ring last Friday at Bethnal Green for an eight-rounder with Darren Stubbs from Oldham. I prepared for weeks and even had two weeks sparring in Denmark to get myself in the best possible shape.

“Lenny Daws, the British light welterweight champion, was topping the bill and Sky Sports were covering it. Everything was in place and I couldn't wait to get going again.

“But Daws' opponent withdrew earlier in the week and they couldn't find a replacement - then Stubbs also pulled out and I was gutted about that.

“However, the next thing I knew I was offered a fight with new Commonwealth champion Ovill McKenzie and I jumped at the chance.”

Spartacus would have been on a double mission against Jamaica-born McKenzie, 26, who became the first fighter to beat him, in January last year.

Apart from seeking revenge, he was also in line for a major title and a bigger-than-average pay day with live coverage on Sky.

But within 24 hours his hopes were once again dashed as McKenzie was found to be a stone over the limit just one day before the official weigh-in.

The British Boxing Board of Control would not sanction the fight for medical reasons and that led to the entire show being cancelled.

Spartacus said: “I've had better times. After weeks of training and preparation I had my chance at a major title taken away and there's the financial blow as well.”

McKenzie is one of only two boxers to have beaten Spartacus as a pro, edging home after six rounds by a narrow one-point margin in January last year.

He claimed the vacant Commonwealth title just a few weeks ago with a two-round win over Peter Haymer, the only other fighter to beat the Ipswich man.

So what next for Spartacus?

He said: “On the basis that I expected to be fighting last week, my girlfriend and I booked a holiday so I'll probably have to train every day I'm away.

“My promoter has two shows coming up, in Nottingham on November 24 and at Alexandra Palace on December 8, which I would prefer to do.

“Come Christmas I'm told I will be made number one challenger for the British title and I am also ranked in the Commonwealth top five, so as long as I win in December I like to think my time is coming in the new year.”

Spartacus paid tribute to his sponsors, Flare Recruitment, who have stood by him during the dark days.

He said: “Other companies might have given me the elbow but Flare have been an absolute Godsend and I can't wait for my big chance to pay them back.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that without their backing I might have had to turn my back on boxing altogether.

“Now there is a chance that the British title fight will come to Ipswich - the current champion has to defend against me by June next year - but after what I've been through recently I'm certainly not counting my chickens.”

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