Welcome everybody to No Ref Required. Our first interview here at the landlord’s residence, I am the landlord and with me this afternoon is Craig “Spider” Richards, British light heavyweight boxer. Welcome, Craig.
Ah mate, we got here.
Here in the end.
I tell you. It’s been- I think we first met probably about six years ago, down at Parma’s gym, when you were training as an amateur at 70 low kilos.
Yes, yes, yes. 72 low kilos.
Yeah, 75 kilos because (inaudible – 00:00:53) yes, 75.
Yeah, I think I was about 90 as well, so we both put on a bit of weight.
What a journey you’ve been on. What a journey you’ve been on. So at that time, you were an amateur. A few fights. Not really an extensive amateur career.
No, I’m not massive.
And then, I saw the news. You’ve turned professional and signed with Matchroom.
How did that happen?
Well, it was a case where- it’s actually a hard day without a conversation with him. He recommended me to the Sims Gym at the time, where he was boxing. There were two brothers, Peter and Tony. Got in touch with Peter Sims, which obviously I spoke to him about my amateur pedigree, whatever. He had come and watched me in the amateurs, contacted me the following week-
Because you wanted to- you want a big tournament in the amateur division.
Yeah, I won the box card for the national tournament too. And then after that, we and- Denny come and watch me on my last elite fights. Because I turned elite after ten fights. So it got to a point where a lot of fighters, I did make a little bit of a buzzer in the novices early and I couldn’t get fights. So first we’re trying to get fights started outside London. I didn’t want to be stalled and be on the shelf and be one of them Instagram boxers. Oh no one wants to fight me! I said look, I’m gonna make it happen, whatever I got to do. So I went elite. After ten fights after that- I done 12 fights, elite, boxed all the best fighters that I could think of. The Sims come and watch me on my last fight. He said, yeah you’re good fighter, I’ll sign you. We went from there and then- and then he had obviously contacted Eddie, told him about a new fighter he had and Eddie said yeah, put him on a show, whatever, look at him. I went out there, made my debut. I was actually free before, I was a bit nervous, I was thinking three weeks to get ready on Eddie Hearn’s show. I was thinking, no way! I was thinking I wouldn’t be ready in time. He said mate, opportunities like this don’t come round (inaudible – 00:02:58) I’ll get you ready. So I said all right, went out there for my debut, a bit nervous. Obviously, first pro debut, Eddie Hearn’s show. I was actually looking for tickets before to buy tickets to this show to go and watch.
But you actually ended up boxing-
And now I end up being told I’m on the show. So-
Was that at light heavy?
That was just above- yes, it was like catchweight- just below light heavyweight, in between. I think I weighed in at 12 stone, three at the time. (inaudible – 00:03:25) to weigh 12 stone. Lightweight’s 12.7. Went out there, stopped him within 49 seconds of the first round and I came into the industry you know, with a bang.
So then after that, was a few months later, I was back out again, against a good opponent for my second fight. I had six fights, I lost two. Never been stopped in pros or amateurs. Went out there delivered a strong performance, win every round. Then I went off to box at a couple box- then after that Eddie was taking a deeper look into me. Gave me and o’Hara our own show on Anthony Joshua Public Workout. That’s when I went out- that guy I boxed with was actually light heavyweight. He was 13 stone, I was only 12.3, 12.4. And he had a winning record 18 fights, that was my fourth fight. I went out there banged it in one round. He just literally walked through the southern area against someone 12-0, he’s fight before. And I had him for my fourth fight, banged him out in one round and that’s when Eddie took an interest-
He took you in, yeah.
I said, okay and that’s when he put me on the Golovkin – Kell Brook card at the O2 arena for my next fight.
I remember that.
Yes, and then went from there, I went strip to strip, went on that unbeaten card off that night. 19 days after that and then he put me at Wembley Arena. We was trying to get a title fight for that. They refused to fight at first. So I boxed a good opponent with good rankings to put myself in a mandatory position so that people don’t realize that guy that I banged out within two rounds, he actually had just boxed Paul Smith, who Paul Smith had just boxed Andre Ward for a world title. And he had just boxed him, then I boxed him on my seventh fight. Got him out then and that was- I think I’d only had one six rounder at the time, and then I went off to go and box for the Southern area title after several fights. Won sixth round against a kid 12-0, six knockouts after seven fights.
You’ve got a photographic memory for these fights. You’re not forgetting one fight.
No, I don’t forget, it’s been a journey, it has been tough every time, I can’t forget it.
Because we’ve been watching you. I mean I took a personal interest because of the situation, meeting you down at the gym and that so- as soon as we seen you up in the professional ranks, we’ve been watching. And the one thing that we noticed about you is that your demeanor changed. That smile- it was a stage where we were seeing you out of places and you were not smiling at all. Very, very serious. And we were saying, well okay, this man is really ready to fight. Excuse me, sorry. Really ready to fight. And then, we watched you win the title. We were happy with that. Then we watched a few- couple more performances after that. Same thing, that jovial demeanor was all disappear- and then the next thing we heard, you’ve gone up to light heavy. And we thought, ah, what’s happened there?
Here’s the thing, see. Because people didn’t realize my last three fights, you see, midway I was really sick. So- and I was just dead. I was like a walking zombie. I just had no energy, I was dead in camps, I was just flat. So I didn’t have the energy, I weren’t myself. I didn’t have the bub- I weren’t bubbly anymore. I had no personality anymore. I would just literally flat getting by, week by week. So as I went, I won the title that day, even though I was really sick. Then I had sinus infection, I was really sick again. Then I got ill again. So after that, during camp, my manager one day after my first session said, you need to go and rehydrate. You don’t look well. And I went in and rehydrate and I came back in and I sparred and I performed really well. And we had a meeting at the gym the next day and everyone said, well this is your problem, why you keep getting sick? Is it the weight? So from then, I decided to make the decision to start looking at moving to light heavyweight. And still, I didn’t make the transition. I boxed, got the guy out there in a couple rounds and then after that I’d got offered more than five days notice, the British title fight.
So- everyone knows I don’t like saying no to fights. I like to fight so I got offered here, I looked at the opportunity, I thought okay, I’ll go for it you know. It’s about taking risks and opportunities come. So I took the fight with two days training. Clearly-
That wasn’t even really training. Let’s just say no training.
Yeah, no training.
There was no training.
I got off the plane, on the Sunday night, went to the gym for two days and had to go off to Cardiff. So I didn’t train for it. And I went 12 rounds against a man, 23 fights, 15 knockouts. Of the 10 pro-fights, we come short on points. Done effective work-
We loved that performance.
I appreciate it.
We really understood what took place. You know people get put in positions, and they have to decide, am I gonna take this or am I not? So we understood the position you were in and we loved the performance because we knew- Everybody knows that was your first 12 rounder.
First 12 round.
The person that you were fighting against is a seasoned campaigner. Just recently lost his title to Callum Johnson.
Callum Johnson, yeah.
I mean, we watched that performance and in all honesty, I felt you could’ve won that fight. But having said that, you know, things happen for a reason. It’s probably left you with more confidence and more opportunities.
100%. Because you always hear about how hard a 12-round fight is. Been into a 12-round with no training and going for it, I realized it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it would be. I took some positives out of it. No and I didn’t train for it and knowing I could have won the fight against a seasoned pro. So a lot of positives I took at the same time, in the same breath. It’s not about thinking, oh well I done it, being complacent. You got to go back and work out, what could I have done better? I also took a lot of my negatives out of that and went to the gym and worked double hard and all of that. And I thought I’ve always got to stay ready for a 12-round fight. That’s why I took- I took the negatives and turn them into positives. And took the positives out of there. So I wasn’t too hard on myself, I just went back to the drawing board and worked double hard on the gym.
How you feeling?
I feel great.
Yeah? It’s working- it’s working.
It’s working wonders. Been working wonders but yes, it’s positive from here and now, I just got to keep staying focused and working hard now.
So what are your plans? Because you’re 28 now, right?
You’re 11 fights in?
11 fights or 12 fights?
11 or 12 fights in, you fought for the British championship. Between now and 35, you got sick- sorry, excuse me. Sorry, won the Southern area title as well. You probably got seven years to get to the peak.
Yeah to get to the pinnacle of where you need to be. At 35, you kind of want to have done most of the things you want to do. So what are your aspirations?
Personally, myself, by 31 I want to be at world level. So for me, I think within the next year, I definitely will be at that British level at some point during this year or early next year.
I think you’re there already.
Yeah, so basically- maybe picked up the strap maybe this year or early next year. If not, if I’ve gone down another route, but basically I’m at that level now. So if I give myself three years solid from here, why would I not be at- If I can come from 22 amateur fights, to turning pro after 10 fights and being at British level, why after three more years could I not get from British level to world level? So as long as I work hard and keep my head down and keep learning every day in the gym, I believe I should be at world level within three years. That would have given me a few years’ time for unifier or dominate and have some big fights for another few years.
I mean there are big fights out there now. I mean, your division- people talk about a super middleweight division. They talk about the heavyweight division, they talk about a lot of divisions. But the light heavyweight division, it’s hot!
That’s where it’s at, it’s hot. We are to look at this for myself. I (inaudible – 00:11:19) That guy fought for the Southern area. He was their highest ranked fighter at domestic level before British. I beat him after 7 fights. There was no one else really. Looking at English level, there’s a couple of ok fights, nothing that was gonna make people cancel their wedding for. So I thought, you know, like I was knocking on the door, said maybe can we get a British? Who is knocking for the British, knocking the British, (inaudible – 00:11:46) etcetera. Everything happens for a reason, so when that British come up at light heavyweight, that’s about to get the short notice for. There’s an opportunity right there. For me now, the division’s hot domestically, there’s some good names out there, bring a lot of public interest. And then when you’re looking at past domestic- great fighters at world level. Whether they’ll still be there when I get there or not, the whole division from domestic to world level is red hot right now.
I mean I like the fact that there are a lot of potential fights out there. Yeah and what usually happens in- I know there are a lot of fighters out there in your division and that all the divisions seem really competitive at the moment. And I notice that if you go on social media, people are out there talking some real wickedness. There’s some people out there that they’re really, really making noise. You don’t seem to be that type of fighter. You’re not out there calling people out and all that. Why is that?
Okay, look. Okay for example, you’re growing up, say for instance, round in South London for example. You might get into altercations with people, he said, when I see you and I see you- everything’s all hyperactive and then sometimes it fizzles out to nothing. Sometimes, you might see each other so whatever. That’s what people do on the streets as kids and stuff. Now we’re in a professional establishment. When I say I’m gonna fight you, we’re gonna fight. Don’t matter how much noise you make, how much you’ve had- no one’s scared, we’re all fighters. So there’s no point being on Twitter, giving it the big- on Insta giving it to- because we’re gonna see each other in the ring.
Once the contract is signed.
So when the contract’s signed, why are we arguing, discussing? We’re gonna fight. So you could (inaudible – 00:13:32) me at the weigh-in, you could (inaudible – 00:13:35) me at the prep, I’m gonna be in the ring with you and that’s when it counts. I’m not into the smoke, you know. Like special effects and all that. I’m down, I’m on focus on the business ahead of me, the task ahead.
And that’s what is, the fight is what matters to me and that’s what I’m getting prepared for. If I get sidetracked by all the politics and all the hurrah- I’m more focused on the job in hand.
I agree. I agree and at No Ref Required, we really respect that. We really respect that. So on a lighter note, we decide- we was thinking, how could we get to know our fighters apart from talking about boxing? So we devised a few questions, and we’ll probably ask most of our fighters questions like this. Real, real simple stuff. It’s called either-or.
Alright? I’m gonna offer you two choices, you tell me which you prefer. Real simple. So just to start off. Let’s start with a simple one, food. Pancakes or waffles?
I love both. It depends though-
Nah, nah, nah, no.
Okay, okay, okay. You know what? I eat pancakes more than I eat waffles.
Alright, we could go with that. Ibiza or Dubai?
Oh, both of them was okay, but the battle’s lit. I like Dubai.
We were talking about that all-inclusive- oh that 7-star hotel.
Yes, yes, yes. The Palm Atlanta. Yes, yes. The water park and everything.
Okay, you’re living good.
Okay, I’m living alright.
Suit or tracksuit?
Suit is always suave, but I live in a tracksuit more times because I’m training every single day.
Five Guys or Whole Foods.
Whole Foods. When I was in New York, Whole Foods was the spot.
Jollof or rice and peas?
Rice and peas. Rice and peas.
Love & Basketball or Scarface?
Alright. BMW or Maserati?
I’m a BMW man.
Okay, I’m with you on that. Black Panther or Blade?
Good films both, but Black Panther, he gets punched up too many times and it’s odd. Say like, Blade. He puts work yeah?
We’re gonna have to talk about that, my man.
Yeah, you think about- look what happened to Black Panther. The guy comes to the kingdom and just punched him off in the water. I ain’t trying to be that guy. I’d rather be Blade.
Alright, but Black Panther when he got punched up like that, he had his Black Panther powers taken away.
Yeah, that’s no good, I can’t (inaudible – 00:16:10) like that.
Alright, alright. Kendrick or J. Cole?
I don’t really listen to none of them really, that much. Both good artists.
Okay. Wretch or Stormzy.
That’s really hard though because Wretch has been my favorite artist for probably like, I don’t know, 15 years. But I really like the influence- the way Stormzy has come into the industry and taken over but for me, I have to say Wretch because I liked Wretch for so long. But no discredit to Stormzy. I would say shout out, Stormzy. No, no, joke.
So we’re gonna ask you rap or hip-hop, but I think you already answered that question, man. You don’t even listen to J. Cole and Kendrick.
Not really. I do listen to them, but I don’t have a specific, like, one of them, where I say, oh I need to hear some J. Cole today.
Alright, alright, alright, alright. So and another set of questions now. We both love boxing. And if we could put together our perfect fighter, what would he look like? So the different attributes. For attitude, just attitude in and around the ring and about the fight game, who would be your favorite boxer?
Oh when I look at it actually, I like fighters like Errol Spence actually. He keeps it real, gives you 100 all the time, he ain’t scared to fight. If he wants a fight, he’s not smacky about it and he don’t act stupid. You don’t see him online doing a stupid thing. There’s two fighters’ attitude, him and Andre Ward they’ve got the best attitude. Andre Ward and Errol Spence, their attitude is what I like.
Okay. And how about for ring craft? Your favorite boxer for ring craft? Who knows the ring very well? There’s no one who knows the ring like Floyd.
Enough said. Enough said.
For speed? Hand speed?
Sugar Ray Leonard.
And for footwork?
Yeah again, Lomachenko. But Floyd’s footwork is underestimated as well.
I could go with that. I could go with that. How about for defensive skill?
You’ve got a few. You got Floyd Mayweather- Floyd Mayweather is obviously probably the best defensive fighter.
The knockout power yeah?
Golovkin. AJ. Wilder.
Pound per pound, I don’t know. Maybe Golovkin.
Okay. And as everybody knows, last week Eddie made a massive announcement about connections that he’s made in America with Dazn. And I’m not really sure how you say that- dizzin? Design? And the Perform group, saying he’s gonna put 16 fights on every year in America, and 16 here.
In the UK.
I mean that is a massive deal and-
Let’s be honest, he’s killed the game.
I mean wow, outstanding. And how do you think that’s gonna affect British boxers and yourself in particular?
Two sides, people gonna look at it. They can look at it is that he might focus a lot in America and British fighters may not get the attention they was getting, or well, you can look it as in there’s more opportunities for British fighters over in America and bigger platforms for us, depends on which side of the coin you look at it here. It depends on how he looks at it or which fighters he wants to give more exposure and which ones you might not have as much time for. So all kind of depends on- Now I’m sure he probably hasn’t work that out so far, but you’ll see how it goes over time and we will soon find out.
Think- for you personally, if I was in a position as a professional boxer, I think I’d be really happy about the fact that there’s potentially more opportunities. But with more opportunities, comes more competition. And if you’re gonna be in this game, I suppose you want to be the best.
Yeah, you do.
And I suppose the bigger the cake, you know?
I personally, really happy about it. I’m excited about it. Another thing, bigger platforms more things going on your Matchroom, means that Eddie is obviously gonna be making more money and generating a bit of income for Matchroom Boxing over a long period of time. With more money for them can obviously mean more money for the fighters.
Apart from the prestige of being a professional boxer and a champion- I mean you don’t do it for nothing.
No, exactly. And I think like one of the things I came into the game at first, it wasn’t really about the money for me. I think it was all about- maybe even like working towards legacy and beating good fighters and I think that’s why I took a lot of the fights- I took earlier in my career, but also now I’ve kind of understood where I’ve got myself into and I’ve understood the business of it. So for me, the financial side is important because you want to set up a future for your family and your kids over time so you don’t want to come out there and you’re looking in a wall in your room you rented, in 20 years with your belts on it and no financial stability.
I was a contender, man.
Yes, you know you’re telling them, well I used to be a boxer, I’ve seen people like that. You know, I used to box, I used to- You don’t want to be like that. You want to have financial stability where you set up good investments and your kids can reap the rewards of your hard work. You see the fruits of your labor. So that’s what you want to work towards. Of course, so- financial for me is very important as well as leaving a legacy and winning and proving eventually that I’m the best fighter in my weight.
Craig, from No Ref Required to you, we wish you all the best in your career. We’re gonna be watching you really closely, may you get the finance, the prestige, the family and all them things and just to say you know, we really appreciate the way you do things. We wish you all the best, thanks for coming to see us.
Thank you, no problem.
We appreciate that.
Okay folks, that was Craig “Spider” Richards. Until next time.
[00:23:58] [END OF VIDEO]