WBA Champion Craig Richards on signing with Matchroom, title wins, being the underdog & cheat meals
Lydia Des Dolles: Hi, I'm good. How are you
Craig "Spider" Richards: I'm good, thank you. Sorry I run a bit late. I literally just got stepped foot in the door just now.
Lydia Des Dolles: That's okay. How long of a cycle were you on today?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Well, I rode to Brighton today.
Lydia Des Dolles: How far is that from where you are?
Craig "Spider" Richards: I'm from South London, so that was about just under 60 miles and then we got a train partway back and then we cycled again to get some more miles out. So I literally just got back in now.
Lydia Des Dolles: Well you look fresh for someone who's just like sixty mile. So apart from your cycling, how are you getting on in quarantine - what are you filling your days with?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Just, you know, like homework, jogs, organizing other bits and pieces, catching up with people on the phone and messages and stuff. Then you know, usually when you're in camps and stuff you don't really get a lot of time. So I'm trying to do all the stuff that I would do, not in camp basically.
Lydia Des Dolles: Do you have someone at home that can do pads with you or can do any kind of boxing training or are you just working the way yourself?
Craig "Spider" Richards: No, I'm just working by myself for now. And then, obviously as we get closer to the time, then obviously we'll get back into a routine.
Lydia Des Dolles: And how are you feeling? Did I read right that you, you actually contracted COVID-19?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. I've got it like early February and then, it just lasted for ages, but even after I finished with the illness, it took a while to get myself back into training properly, the breathing et cetera. It's a kind of took a while to shake it off. So, yeah.
Lydia Des Dolles: Wow, I'm glad to hear you made a full recovery.
Craig "Spider" Richards: Thank you.
Lydia Des Dolles: So apart from everything that was going on and being, being ill, and obviously we have events cancelled at the moment, but would you have had anything scheduled for now?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Well, I was meant to fight the 28th (March 2020), but I was ill, so I'm just waiting. I'm mandatory for the British. I'm just waiting to see how that resumes back to go and try and pick up that tab or move on from there. Really.
Lydia Des Dolles: In terms of motivation, is it more difficult or it doesn't give you more of a little bit of a fire underneath you because we have this time off and everyone is so desperate for fighting to get back.
Craig "Spider" Richards: I think it's going to give me a, it gives me more of a fire in my stomach really. Because this is like you're itching, sparred or punched. You ain't done what boxers like to do, so you're burning, you're itching - you got the energy ready to just let out, you know. So yeah.
Lydia Des Dolles: For you, I mean, cause obviously you know, this is the first time that we've, we spoke the first time that I've had you on the show. So for anyone that's watching, that doesn't know too much about you, talk to us about the kind of amateur end of your career. What age were you when you started boxing?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Well, I used the box when I was younger for a bit, nothing too serious, used to spar, et cetera. Then I left boxing in for a few years, came back, messed around with a little bit, didn't compete again. And then as I got to my early twenties, I thought do you know what a lot of these people I'm seeing doing quite well When I'm mixing it with them in the gyms, I feel like I was better than them. So I thought do you know what if I go back into boxing, I'm going to put my foot down to see how far I could go. Three years in, won a few things, championship books, copy, et cetera. Then obviously 27 fights and got signed to the Sims. Pete Sims signed me and then went into Matchroom Boxing and went from there.
Lydia Des Dolles: Like obviously, you know, and ending up as a professional being signed to Matchroom, that's kind of like the goal. It's the pinnacle for most fighters, you know, to have achieved that already is a massive undertaking. But when you started out, was there someone in your family that says, let's go to the boxing gym or, or did you want to start yourself?
Craig "Spider" Richards: No. to be honest, my cousin first was going down to the boxing gym and just the train and me and him used to do everything together so I followed him down. Then he stopped going and I carried on. So was just going on my own, my dad never boxed or nothing like that. I just literally just on my own every day just grinded it out, self motivated.
Lydia Des Dolles: Can you remember a point where something clicked for you or where you kind of thought I'm good at this and this is what I want to do. I want to be a boxer?
Craig "Spider" Richards: I think when I got into the amateurs properly late twenties, I kind of knew this is what I wanted to do. Once I made my mind up, I think about a year before I turned professional, I remember Gabriel Rosado, he just boxed Golovkin at the time he came over to spar me. I realize how well I'd done, off the back of that and then I thought do you know what he's a seasoned pros box Golovkin him and I'm mixing it doing well with fighters like this. So I leave from then that I could turn professional and I realized it would be a good route for me.
Lydia Des Dolles: And in terms of coaches or sort of people role models around that time, you know, what was the conversation that was being had. Were other people picking up on your talents or your skill, you know, or was it, did it come a little bit later on?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Yeah, a hundred percent. like when, when I first started boxing, before I even wanted to take it serious, like my late teens, I remember, I had an amateur coach, he kept saying to me, I'm telling you my man, like you'll be a champion if you carry on, you'll be a champion. I just think why isn't trying to gas my head off for me Cause there's a lot of the boys in there a talent. If they catch that and I'm telling you my man, like you've got something you carry on. It was kind of like, I used to kind of come to the gym more for his sake to just, you know, cause he believed in me and obviously when I left it for a while, then when I came back is when I really wanted to do it. And he was my coach for the amateurs. He took me and he kept saying to me, even at the end of my amateurs, you're ready to turn professional, you're ready to turn professional. I'm telling you. And I ended up turning pro.
Lydia Des Dolles: So what was the reason behind turning pro?
Craig "Spider" Richards: I always wanted to be a professional. I never ever watched amateur boxing and thought like of got an amateur dream or I want to do this in the amateurs. It's not what I grew up feeling. I used to grow up watching the Bright Lights in Vegas, the late nights. I grew up watching obviously the Tyson's, now it's loose, it's all of that. And then later on the generation that was obviously Floyd may overnights and who Vegas, Bright Lights . And that's what we used to all watch and think - I wanna be doing that sort of stuff on a professional level. So, you know, you ended up boxing, like a pro because of watching them and that's what you always aspire to be. So then you aspire to have that world title one day, you know, maybe unified division push on and leave a stamp in the boxing games though, that all can only happen when you turn professional. So I feel like the amateurs, it's the apprenticeship to get you prepared for that.
Lydia Des Dolles: So when you're watching, you know, all the big fights as a, as a teen or was your growing up on TV and you're saying, I want to do that, you know, and I want to replicate what these people are do. And has it been as you imagined or is it a lot different than what you thought it might have been like back in those days?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Hmm. Different because, in certain aspects I watched a lot of American boxing growing up. So it's obviously a lot different and you don't really understand it because as everyone, you watch the boxing, the first thing you focus on is all the guys at the top. So you picture box. If you don't picture what it's like starting out, coming out, having your debut, being a ribbon cutter like first a little bit, you know, you don't picture all of that. You just picked your Michael Buffalo announcing you and you're walking out. Then you realize the realism of boxing and how you got to work your way up and come through the rankings.
Lydia Des Dolles: So when it came to the day where you were finally going to sign, what Matchroom, you know, you're, you're, you're meeting with Eddie Hearn. Like what was that experience like Because I imagine, you know, for a lot of boxers you're aiming to get there, you finally get the contract. But really the hard work kind of starts then it's not a time to sit back and take it easy, you know
Craig "Spider" Richards: Do you know, it was, it was when I first went and I was boxed at Matchroom, it would just fight by fight. Like it was a situation when I first was with the Sims with Peter. I signed to him and then he had a fight. He was planning to box on an Eddie show in a few weeks, which he ended up coming off with the show. The opportunity straight away was like putting him on. So when I went out there, me and my debut stopping the guy in 49 seconds I think it was and he was like, Oh yeah, let's put him back on. He put me back on, I performed well again. Then they put me in with a guy, a good guy. He just boxed for I think the Southern area on my fourth fight . He lost to a guy Richard Horton and that was my first appearance live on Sky Sports as well. and I went out there and I blasted him out in one round and then it was from then it was like, then we started looking at signing up with Matchroon and being more permanent and stay in there after that.
Lydia Des Dolles: Did you find in those moments that they know the, the bright lights, the pressure of I need to perform here if I want to sign with Matchroom if I want to impress, you know the people that are in the front row, do you find that you kind of excel under those sorts of pressures?
Craig "Spider" Richards: I think I excel better when I'm under the pressure, so when I look to my debut, I felt like I was a lot under pressure on it. It was that my appearance as a professional, first time Eddie's watching, Matchroom is watching . Even my trainer who believes in me, the Sims that Pete is watching, so I don't want to let him down feeling like he's making a bad decision. Embarrassingly so I went out there for full, sloppy, straight away, 49 seconds. I was sharp, I was on it. Then I kind of just went through the motions for a fight or two, still went in, still winning every round convincing me and then it was like, well, let's see how good he is again, if we're going to push him with him, how good is he And I realized that the Richard Horton fight was another test for me.
Craig "Spider" Richards: So I felt under pressure cause it was like they're watching my performance. So at that point I was under pressure again. I went out there and delivered. Bang. KO'ed him in one round, good performance again. Then obviously I boxed on the Golovkin card after that and a couple other cards. And then it was again I boxed after seven fights it got at 12 another six knockouts, box 10 rounders just beat the Southern area champion Bigger amateur pedigree than I had more experience as a pro and I thought again and I heard people talk about, don't worry, he's very seasoned. If you lose this fight, you can always come back. And I had a lot of combat talks like I was, everyone expects me to lose so I'm under pressure again. We're not there. Boxed again. and then it was the Jake Ball fight. It was make or break kinda. We've got a few light heavyweights in Matchroom. Someone's got to stay, someone's got to go. Jake with a massive amateur pedigree, higher knockout percentage at light heavyweight. I came up from super
Craig "Spider" Richards: I've come up from super middle weight isn't going to be big enough or strong enough to mix with Jake. The bookies had him as the favorite. I feel under pressure again when I stop to move him free. So I realized every time you put me under that pressure I perform. So I think I'm a fighter who works better under pressure. I get a bit complacent and some performance is a bit flat. When I box someone who is not great or I'm expected to win, I'm just kind of just go through the motions. But I need big fights. Well get me up for it. That's when I perform better.
Lydia Des Dolles: So you like being the underdog?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Love being the underdog. I love it. I perform way better as the underdog. I prefer it.
Lydia Des Dolles: So which fight then when you look back as your career today, which fight had the biggest impact on your way You sat back and went, you know I'm really doing well here and you kind of gave yourself, you know, sort of pat on the back. Cause for the fans, it's probably winning the title, they think it will be winning the title. But what for you, what fight was this?
Craig "Spider" Richards: I think it was winning. It wasn't the Southern Area. It was when I went to WBA Continentals when I beat Jake, knowing that he was a serious operator for me, I knew how good he was or he could be, to go out there and blast him out and do it well. and then I hit world rankings. That was the defining moment. Cause then you go top 15 or 12 in the world, you realize you're on the world ranking scenes close towards the goals of what you came in to the game for. So I think that was the defining moment for me.
Lydia Des Dolles: So when you win and you get backstage, who was the one person that you know, you can't wait to call or you can't wait to see who just the win mean something to, for you?
Craig "Spider" Richards: I don't have to call because everyone who means something actually will be there. Who is involved with me will be in that arena. So all my family, all my close friends, everyone's there. So when I go backstage, you know, celebrate the win with the team has been putting in the work with me for the whole camp. I shower up quickly and I always go out there, go and greet all the people who spend their money or come out their time or efforts come down and support me. You know, maybe have some food with some guys, speak to some and you know, we celebrate together
Lydia Des Dolles: And then in the week afterwards, I mean a lot of fighters I talk about it, with them quite a bit. There's so much, especially with the big shows, like the Matchroom shows, there's such a demand on you in terms of the, the weeks leading up to it in terms of the press, the, the workouts, the media days, everything that goes with it. So then when you have like the Sunday in the hotel and win or lose, you know, you're going back home. Like, how is that, like what's the sort of process cause it's such an anticlimax even for me just working in the business, you know, you wake up on the Sunday and you're in the hotel and you're kind of like okay what do I do today You know, you kind of feel like a little bit of like lost a little bit.
Craig "Spider" Richards: Yeah you are lost a little bit, but some days a little bit relieved that you haven't got another hard work hard work a day because you've probably been in camp 10 12 weeks battering your body for 12 weeks, five week. Cause you said it can be very draining. You go to public workout, press conference, the public way each day is an event. Then you've got the big night, then you've got Fight Night, which is obviously draining as well. So he finished that tired. You spent all the time to see everyone late night. You wake up Sunday days a day for me. What should I eat?
Lydia Des Dolles: Well, what are you eating? What's your food of choice on a day after fight day?
Craig "Spider" Richards: It kind of depends cause the day that I don't have to be so fussy with my food's in camp, I'm quite disciplined all year round anyway. But in camp it's going to be the same routine of mixed up meals , something healthy maybe brown rice. Brown rice might be Brown pasta or the salmon might be chicken. That veg might be that veg. So it's all roughly around the fact that well I'm not going to have in camp.
Lydia Des Dolles: Yeah. What, what's been the biggest lesson that boxing has taught you that you can take into everyday life?
Craig "Spider" Richards: That you just gotta take the rough with the smooth. With boxing, it's never always a perfect path. Everyone always thinks that you had an easy roll. You know, everything's smooth. They're not seeing the back and forth behind the scenes, negotiations this, that is this fight going happen - is this fight not going to happen? You have a lot of times where you get let down or you're meant to fight here and you don't get to do it, so you just learn to get on with it. So in my career now, I've seen a lot of things repeat and it doesn't bother me. I just, it is what it is, whatever is meant to be will be.
Lydia Des Dolles: I hear ya. So what we were talking, everyone has an opportunity to put in some questions into the question box, so I'm just gonna check them there and see what everyone wants to ask. okay, so Karen has asked if you could quarantine with five people dead or alive. Who are you choosing Can't pick anyone that you know.
Craig "Spider" Richards: No, no, no. Yeah.
Speaker 4: Oh,
Craig "Spider" Richards: now can answer some of them. I would pick my five would probably be five people get good wisdom of yes sir. Oh, five people who I know would be very useful, which will probably take more time than we got.
Lydia Des Dolles: okay. Take one person.
Craig "Spider" Richards: I'm not sure now. A lot of people I would have picked. I would, I think I wouldn't need them now.
Lydia Des Dolles: Okay. You've got no points for this answer. Alright. Alright.
Craig "Spider" Richards: Alright. No longer alive.
Lydia Des Dolles: Dead or it can be anyone. It could be an actor. Yeah.
Lydia Des Dolles: It could be Muhammad Ali.
Lydia Des Dolles: Well that's a good one. Let's do away with that one.
Craig "Spider" Richards: He's got so much knowledge.
Lydia Des Dolles: and Patel has asked who wins Anthony Yarde or Lyndon Arthur.
Craig "Spider" Richards: That's a very good fight. A very good fight.
Speaker 3: Mmm.
Craig "Spider" Richards: It just depends. It's whose got a better chin. That's what I figured. Depends on who's got a better chin. They're both big punchers. a box, a lot. Obviously with Anthony, we used to train together for a year . He was my sparring partner. He's a very good fighter . Haven't seen a lot of Lyndon awful, but I've heard very good things about him.
Speaker 3: Mmm.
Craig "Spider" Richards: So yeah, it'll be a good fight. I would sway towards Anthony, I think.
Lydia Des Dolles: Derek has asked, who has been the hardest puncher that you've been in the ring with?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Hardest puncher. It would probably be in the amateurs when I bought some international Kid, I can't remember where he was from, but he could punch pretty hard. As a pro, I don't think I've met massive punches yet. Probably Buglioni ..the biggest punch .
Speaker 3: Right.
Lydia Des Dolles: Very good. Emily has asked, what are you watching on Netflix
Craig "Spider" Richards: Well my watch in the Michael Jordan, yeah, Los dos. That's very good. That's an advisory.
Lydia Des Dolles: So good. I yeah.
Craig "Spider" Richards: Oh, for a year get good wisdom off and apart from that he is a very good fighter
Lydia Des Dolles:like not that I wasn't going to watch it, but I just turned it on just to put something on and then I was hooked that he's a legend on that. That guy, they're also good. Like Jordan, Dennis Rodman. I'm a huge fan. He's cool as hell as a, last question. okay. So, Derek has asked when we're back, so when the events are back next year, I observed over the next year. Who were the fights that you're after?
Craig "Spider" Richards: Well I've got the British title. I've got a British land up on top 10 in WBA now. So after when the British Goodwill, I think I'll be close on a few fights off near the top in that division, obviously in top 50 in the IVF as well. So I think that would be my sixth domestic champion I'd have boxed already. So I feel like at domestic level, if I won that most people win one, being domestic, that would be the sixth I've boxed with five good wins. So I think I would probably want to push on to an international level at that point or touching towards world scenes, something a bit further than domestic and British, and then hopefully next fights I would be fighting for a World Champions.
Lydia Des Dolles: that'd be great. All right, very last question cause it just got in, it just came in. Sandra has asked, one classic fight that you always watch?
Craig "Spider" Richards: believable. You got fat. Okay.
Lydia Des Dolles: No, I honestly, I went down at RTO Gotti rabbit hole recently and I like ended up watching like all the documentaries on his life and his death. Very good.
Craig "Spider" Richards: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So phrasing some major bit facile. Tara guy. I was a big Floyd fan for ages ago when I was younger. My cousin gave me a box, so I was watching it for years, even before he bought a Della higher. So I've watched him for years. I've always been a big, when I watched the box set back, if I was on it and it was just that walk, the crawl is fine. Just unbelievable performances.
Lydia Des Dolles: Yeah. Brilliant. So good. Well, what a note to leave the interview on. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
Craig "Spider" Richards: Thank you for your time as well.
Lydia Des Dolles: No problem at all. And I hope you recover well after your 60 miles cycle.
Craig "Spider" Richards: Huh.
Lydia Des Dolles: Thanks so much, Craig. See you later. Bye. Bye.
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