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Jack: Welcome to TUFF Boxing on the road part 2, I’m here in Birmingham at Eastside boxing gym with none other than former British Light-heavyweight champion. Mr. Shakan Pitters, Shakan how are you today.
Shakan: Brilliant man. It’s like any other, you know, day here in the gym. you know, we’re training towards, uh, fight dates, uh, goals and, you know, just trying to smash the next person next to us as well and outwork each other. So, yeah, that’s the typical day at east side.
[Jack]: So you’re back with a bang in a fifth round demolition of Jermaine Springer. Um, made a real statement on that night on TV. Just your reflections on the fight. And then your viewpoint on your performance.
[Shakan]: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I’ve, since the defeat I’ve kind of got a bit of a chip, more of a chip on my shoulder, um, just the kind of character I am. I’m very competitive. And, um, I just thought I, you know, when I speak to my management, John Pegg we was never gonna get a journeyman who’s had like 300 losses and all that. That’s not going to develop me, you know, the fight that I lost, I was in, and, you know, we believe well we was winning until the judges score cards, but it’s what it is, it’s boxing, better man won on a day, and, you know, we needed to come back and make a statement, which I believe anyone or any of, any of the light heavyweights would have been in the ring with me that day, that would have been my intentions to, you know, make a statement like that, like how I did, and, you know, Jermaine Springer is known to be a tough guy and a tough opponent and, you know, credit to him as well.
[Jack]: I mean against Jermaine, you, you outboxed him, you outfoxed him, you out-classed him and then there was a big power shot at the end that took him out the game. Obviously moving back to the Craig Richards fight, it was an unfortunate night for yourself and the team as well. Um, sort of the immediate, you know, reaction and feelings after that fight?
[Shakan]: Yeah, mate. I was, you know, I was proper kicking myself, you know, cause it’s the two, the two genuine mistakes I’ve made in that fight were two mistakes we’re trying to rectify here. You know, whilst in training and sparring and so on, but you know, it’s boxing, it’s that sport where, you know, one punch, one mistake, anything, you know, we put our neck on the lines and anything can happen in the ring. But it happened as I say, you know, lost to the better man on the night and I just brushed myself off and, you know, go forward, keep moving forward. It’s a fight I’d love again. So, you know, I’m sure we’ll probably we’ll see each other down the line, but if not, I’m just gonna keep pushing, in, you know, upwards in the right direction.
[Jack]: Once you’d gathered your bearings after that, after that defeat and went back into the gym with Paul, what specifically did you guys work on to improve your game?
[Shakan]: It was the, like the mistakes again, you know, backing up too easy towards the ropes, which is something where I’m a bigger guy and now I’m a strong guy. I didn’t have to really back up, you know, too much towards the ropes, and I think that’s what we, that’s what I’d done. And sometimes, like I said, you know, in the ring you can train for years, months, however long, and that one night something’s gonna go wrong, you know? And I just think it’s, you know, lapse of concentration probably, which I was made to be punished by, and, you know, at this level, and that, when you do make an acute, you know, mistake, you can get punished and it’s something meaning that going forward now, I’ve learned and we reflected back on it. And as I said, you know, dust myself back go straight back in the gym, I had time to reflect on the fight, you know, watched it a few times and my mistakes. And this is where I’m at now, just, you know, coming back with that intent and that intensity, high intensity, and obviously, rewriting all my mistakes in the last fight, in the fight before.
[Jack]: I mean looking at your career up to that point, you know, a convincing win over Dec Spellman, you know, fairly straightforward points victory over Chad Sugden, winning the ultimate boxer and, you know, tearing through all these opponents. Then, on the night against Craig, the general consensus was you didn’t look like your normal self in that fight. I mean, normally, the wins are convincing and you know, you kind of, you put on a show and you come out the dominant force, but on that night, something didn’t seem to sit right with yourself. That’s how, that’s how it was perceived. Was it a good camp?
[Shakan]: We did have a good camp, but we also had a rocky camp in the sense where, and, you know, I don’t like to seem like, you know, any excuses. At the end of the day, it’s not an excuse because we had, he had the same day as us, we had the same day as him, you put it together. But as I say, sometimes camps don’t come correctly. You know, my team, Paul Cooner and John Pegg at the time they both had COVID. So that was something which hindered, obviously us having that initial contact and training. I was, I had to do other things in new ways. I also had an injury, you know, to my nose and other things where I had to obviously, which is why it got pushed back. And then even the night before I was seven pounds over my weight, I don’t know how, because I’m someone who normally very, very much underweight and things like that, I shouldn’t have to touch a sweatsuit, you know, but these things happen. I don’t know, maybe it was a miscalculation of fluid or whatever it may be. I’m a big guy. My body’s always up and down changing, but, it’s what it is, as I say. You know, it initially probably wasn’t the best of camps, but nevertheless, we had the same day in the camp. So it’s just one of those, it’s boxing. Better guy won on the day, things got, you know, yeah, he fought a good fight, he had a good game plan. And that was it, you know what I mean, there’s not much more to really say on it.
[Jack]: Shak in comparison to a lot of other fighters that are at your level, you’ve not had that extensive amateur pedigree, but you’ve come so far in such a short space of time and you’ve achieved so much in your career. Just talk to me a little bit about how it first started out for you. What was your inspiration to get into boxing in the first instance? Just rolling back the years a little bit.
[Shakan]: Yeah, I mean for me, I didn’t even have boxing in my head, you know. I started, as a footballer, I was at West Bromwich Albion on the books there, and my dad was a professional boxer and my uncle as well. So something where I grew up just watching my dad on the TV, seeing him box and then like, he was a trainer at Small Heath Amateur Boxing Club, which is here in Birmingham and my older brothers, Andre and Amwar, they were both boxing, and my oldest brother, Shawn, they were all boxing, but Amwar was the more prominent one, as he went the furthest in like the ABAs and things like that, you know? And, he’s represented England and things. So he’s the one that was leading the boxing. I was a six years old kid, I had no one to look after me at home, my mum was working so my dad just forced me to the gym. But I used to enjoy, you know, hitting the bag, the running side of things, because it was always good for my football, which I was doing. I found myself just that fit I couldn’t stop running. But then like, I think after, when I’d got released from West Brom and I had a few injuries, after like playing for the other smaller clubs, local teams like Halesowen and things, I just kind of lost the love of football. Not to say that I quit or anything.
[Shakan]: I just lost the love of it. I think I outgrew the sport. I started working, but I was never someone who can only visualize myself as being someone – not that I haven’t – look, anyone who’s working and got a job, obviously it’s good. And especially in this time, everyone needs one, but I always, I always envisioned myself, you know, doing something for myself and along the sporting side because I came from a sporting family. So yeah, we, I was then about twenty … how old was I? Twenty-two, I walked into a gym which John Pegg was on, doing as well. But, it was my first amateur coach. Paddy Fowell, Second City, walked in there. Didn’t really have any motivation to do it. I just wanted to do it because I didn’t want to live in a world where I’m thinking, “what if I did it or if I’d never done it?”, or, you know, I’d like to just get my answers and all that. If I’ve done it, if it worked out: good, if it never worked out, at least I’ll know where I was at. So, that’s what I’ve done, I went in there and it took me probably my third time to actually walk through the doors. I went there and I thought nah, went there, looked, I thought “is this what I want to do? “, you know, come back and then another boxer who was in there he’s kind of just like, “You know what, come in and talk to the coach” or kind of went and spoke to him. And then we got down to the nitty-gritty of things, I explained to him my situation, and he invited me back. So I thought okay, I can’t not come now. So yeah, from there I started doing it, but I never took the amateurs as seriously as like I’m taking the pros now, as I say, I didn’t have a reason or drive or anything. I wasn’t really a mad fan of the trophies either. So just, you know, going there for the training and doing it, had a few fights, whatever. But when my daughter was born, she’s five now, going to be six in November, when she was born, literally that was just my go-to to just say okay, we’re going to make the transition to pro I know what I’ve got to do. I know what I can do, I know what I’m capable of doing, and that was it. It just went from there. I do believe like, for example, obviously Ultimate Boxer was a fight where it got people knowing me a bit more, but when I fought Dec Spellman at York Hall for the English title, that was like, Dec is a good friend of mine now, and I class him as a friend in boxing and it’s something where that was a good learning fight as well for me, you know, when everyone has a good solid learning fight, what makes you a better fighter, that was a good learning fight for me. I think Dec’s a very good, he’s a good fighter. And it was something where I had to dig deep in that fight. And of course I’ve done many mistakes in that fight, but it was a good learning fight for me, which has made me better now and progress better in these years as a pro now But I still feel like I’m not even at my prime yet, although I’m 32, I’m still not at my prime as a boxer, I’m not a finished article because I have been learning on the job. As you said, you know, it’s been a very short kind of career compared to, you know – an inexperienced career compared to a lot of other ones, boxers, even in the light heavyweight division, like your Arthur’s, Buatsi’s, who’ve had a good sterling amateur career. So of course I’ve not reached my prime or peak yet and I’ve still got plenty more to do, but I’ve won and achieved good things as well, and plenty more to come, you know, God-willing so that’s where I’m at with boxing right now.
[Jack]: Now you’ve effectively buried your demons after the knockout of Jermaine Springer, what’s the blueprint for the future? Is there any sort of dates penciled in the diary for a follow-up fight going up in the near future? Are we looking at three or four sort of not tick-over fights, but challenging opponents and then move up to, you know, title contenders again, is that the plan?
[Shakan]: I mean, all my fights now are going to be challenging opponents, as I said, you know, straight away when I spoke to John after this, you know, even – my team obviously stil believed in me anyway and they knew, but I made it clear as well. I said, look, you know, I still want, I want a good name. I don’t want no one who’s just gonna come and, you know, I want someone who’s going to bring it. And all my fights now should be and will be people with winning records, people who are good fighters, cause I want to be in the good fights, the journeyman fights are not going to develop me. You know, I need a fight where I’m going to have to be forced, probably to dig deep, have to get in a fight, have to use my ability and skills. That’s where I’m at now, because I want to, if I want to push onto, you know, like the European and international titles and world level, these are the, you know, the actual obstacles you’re going to have to overcome in this sport. And I think doing it that way is going to make me, you know, prepare better for it. So hopefully, July 17th, my belief is that’s a day what we’re talking about Hennessy now, and hopefully it should be a title as well. Each year I’ve won a title in my career and I’d like to keep that momentum, you know, if I could win a title or two, I’d like to continue that for sure.
[Jack]: So with the Craig Richards fight, it was well publicized that you were actually up on the scorecards until obviously the back end of the fight. Is that something that you can just kind of put to one side now and move on from? Or would you like to get redemption?
[Shakan]: I’d a hundred percent want a rematch. That’s nothing personal. It’s just me as a person, but I’m not going to spend my career chasing that because I’ve never spent my career chasing anyone. If it got offered and it was for anything reasonable, of course I would. But at the same time, it still remains the same where Shakan Pitters has got his journey ahead of him. So I’ve got to focus on my journey, if it’s meant to be, hopefully it will be, if it’s not meant to be, then it’s what it is. But I’d a hundred percent, want that rematch just to obviously revenge what happened, you know, at the last one. I do believe I could beat him and I will beat him, but I’m not taking anything away from him, he’s a decent fighter himself obviously. But it’s something where I do believe I could beat him and would beat him and, you know, it would be a good fight again for the fans. I know what I’d have to do in this fight if I was to fight him again and, you know, I’m sure he’ll feel the same. Like he’d feel he could win. So it makes a good fight. But, um, I believe it’s one I’d come out on top with, but we’re heading in our direction anyway, as long as I keep winning and he keeps winning or whoever keeps winning the top light heavyweight scene. And I’m sure a lot of our paths will cross anyway. So these are fights that will happen.
[Jack]: From your point of view, would you say it was a good benchmark to see how Craig performed against Bivol for a world title, looking at that fight and seeing the fight transpire and Bivol got the victory and retained his world title. Does that demonstrate how far you’ve come in in boxing, and your ability?
[Shakan]: Yeah, I mean, a lot of people do say that, but I can’t take anything from, you know, Craig’s performance against Bivol. That’s Craig isn’t it, I’m not in the ring with that or anything like that he’s a decent fighter, but I can’t benchmark or my success on another man, another fighter, you know what I mean? So I think for me, it’s Craig doing what he has to do. Bivol is a great fighter, you know, World number two, is he, so he’s number two in the world rankings, but I do believe nevertheless that I can mix up with these fighters. Obviously as I said, I’m still learning. I’ve still got these fights to get through. We’d like to go to the root of, you know, probably European other routes as well, you know, other titles, whatever it is. But this is what people have to understand, once you do reach that kind of level, it’s then a set to stay more at that level. You can’t really then, you don’t want to be seen to going up and down in the British and world or whatever level it is, but looking ahead one step at a time, you know, we’ll deal with whatever we’re going to have in July 17th. I believe it is another title, they’re discussing what it will be and fingers crossed, you know, that gets over the line and yeah, we get the victory there and then we could push on for all these other major titles, for sure.
[Jack]: Sitting here today, Shak, in 12 months down the line, realistically, where do you want to be in your career?
[Shakan]: In 12 months, time next year, this time I’d want to be challenging for a world title. But, as I say, one step at a time, and I’ve got to just – I’m a busy fighter anyway. So I think in like three or four fight’s time. That’s what I want to be. And I only do fight about that time with, with the year anyway, but it’s not rushing the process it’s all about being smart about it. And, you know, knowing when the time’s right and, you know, learning and having that ability in my own self to, you know, want to keep striving forward in the right direction, which I believe we are doing and me and my team’s doing so. Yeah.
[Jack]: At some point in the future, if you had the option to fight either Anthony Yarde or Lyndon Arthur, which one of those fighters would you go with?
[Shakan]: It depends which one would make sense for me as well. Obviously I know they’re both again, good fighters I respect both of them. But it all, it all has to make sense on my career. You know, I know Arthur’s obviously higher in the rankings right now. He’s got the bouts as well. So obviously speaking right now that would make more sense for my career. But, they are both good fighters and I’m sure someone like Arthur now is probably wanting to push on to that scene himself, like the world scene, he’s got a good ranking, but whatever would make sense, anyone really. I want to fight good fighters. I want to be in good fights and I want to, you know, I think I’ve got the ability to beat a lot of them. But it’s something where, again, everyone’s in their own lane in this division, man, when our paths cross they cross, you know what I mean.
[Jack]: You touched on your daughter being a massive inspiration in driving you forward in your career and in life. You just want to just talk to me a little bit more about that.
[Shakan]: Yeah, man. I mean, sometimes she comes here as much as I don’t even want to involve her in the boxing, but I have no choice but to bring her sometimes, you know what I mean? And, she comes and she never – like she’s everything, iPad everything over there sitting down and she’ll never really want to sit there. She knows where my bag is she’ll go grab her own little gloves out and just start hitting a bag or talk to everyone else and this banter with everyone, but she’s, she drives me – it’s mad I think unless you’ve got kids yourself and you’ve held them. Then it’s hard to explain that feeling because the moment I had my daughter that just changed my whole world, you know what I mean? That literally changed everything. And I just thought, okay, I’ve got a reason now to know why I’m doing something. It’s not just I’m doing it because I enjoy whatever, I’m doing it because I know I could change and change her path and pave her future. So this is why I like her around with me. I’m someone where, when I’m in training camps or like I do like her around, although she can’t be everywhere where I am. But I do like her around, cause she’s just like, she’ll tell me straight. Like my daughter is the kind of person where she’ll look at me straight and say “Dad, you need to do this better” or “I don’t want you to go, you better beat him off”. And she just tells me as it is, you know what I mean? So it’s what it is man, she gives me that drive and motivation to want to do better and do more that’s for sure.
[Jack]: Shak it’s been absolutely fantastic speaking to you today. Thanks for the invite down to the gym and we’ll look out for that fight announcement soon.
[Shakan]: Yeah, definitely. Anytime man, thanks for taking the time out to come down. And it’s always a pleasure seeing you as well.
[Jack]: And that wraps up another episode of TUFF Boxing on the road. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to the channel and we’ll see you again soon.