© Jane Warburton / Saddo Boxing
Yesterday, at ‘The Real Fight Club’ in London, England, promoter Frank Maloney invited press to attend the last training session of newly signed Darren Sutherland ahead of his pro debut in Dublin next Thursday.
Sutherland faces Bulgarian opponent Georgi Illiev, at Dublin City University, Ireland, on a ‘bill’ which features three ‘title’ fights.
Irish Olympic boxer Sutherland, lost out to Britain's Gold Medallist James DeGale in Beijing earlier this year to take the Bronze Medal and Maloney was quick to see Sutherland's potential, promptly signing up the Irishman.
Apart from the growing number of ‘white-collar boxers‘ attending the club - ‘The Real Fight Club’ has great facilities to provide world-class boxing training for professional boxers and also raises a lot of money for charity.
We were led through the smart, bright reception area and fitness equipment upstairs to the main training room which housed two rings and a number of punch bags. As we walked in - Darren Sutherland greeted us like he’d known us for ages and talked comfortably while he bound his hands ready for his final work-out before embarking to Dublin on Monday.
“I’m very excited about my first profight,” Sutherland offered, “I’m really looking forward to next Thursday, but my mom isn’t so happy about it! She’s nervous that I won’t be wearing a ‘headguard’, “ he said laughing, “and it’s a six round contest”.
When asked about James DeGale, Darren was philosophical. “Well, me against James DeGale is the fight the public would want to see. I’ve beat him four times before, so I’m confident of the win - but the pros are a different ballgame”.
Looking forward to fighting over in Dublin, Darren smiled saying, “It’s at my University, which is even better!”
Taking time for pictures, I smiled as Darren gave me guidance on how to photograph him properly! He definitely had the right ‘look’ and made my job easy as he suggested the best spots to take a picture. A likeable, young man - who, rather than being fazed - seemed to enjoy the media attention, as if it was just a normal day at the office!
While he waited for his sparring partner to arrive, Darren pattered up and down the gym stretching and bobbing before being helped on with gloves and guards by trainer Brian Lawrence.
Jumping into the ring, he was joined by undefeated light heavyweight ‘Dynamite’ Carl Dilks of Liverpool.
Dilks gave Sutherland a good workout but looking relieved to have finished the sparring session - he commended the Irishman on a job well-done, “I’ll get him next time!”, Dilks laughs.
European Bantamweight Champion Ian Napa was also training in the gym and looked in fantastic form as he punches hard and with lightning speed on the pads and bags.
Trainer Lawrence puts Sutherland through a hard pads-session and I decide perhaps they’ve had enough of photos for one day! Thanking them for their time - I tell them I’ll see them both next Thursday in Dublin.