Exclusive interview with top prospect Sam Noakes: “It wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 that I thought, 'You know what? This is what I want to do'.”
Boxing has well and truly returned to our television screens up and down the country after a month away in January, when the BBBofC briefly banned all boxing events under their jurisdiction. Fortunately, the ban has since been lifted, and this weekend sees the return of Frank Warren and Queensberry Promotions for the first time this year with an action-packed eight-fight card on BT Sport this Saturday.
The main event will be contested between champion Anthony Cacace and challenger Lyon Woodstock Jr for the British Super-Featherweight Championship. However, the fight of the night could potentially be between two undefeated, ambitious fighters in Sam Noakes (4-0, 4KOs) and Delmar Thomas (5-0, 2KOs), with both boxers looking to extend their perfect record and move up in the lightweight division.
23-year-old Noakes, now fighting in his fourth televised fight under promoter Warren, believes that his showdown against 'DeeBo' has all the ingredients to become a tasty match-up.
He spoke exclusively to BBN's Taylor Catton at the start of fight week: “Delmar is fit, strong and he is going to come to win, he is not going to want to give up his undefeated status, so it has everything to become a good scrap. I believe in the work I put in, and it is going to take a very, very good man to beat me - I just trust myself through it all.”
He adds, “There has been no verbal leading up to the fight, I prefer it that way because we have enough time to punch each other in the ring, we don’t have to give each other an earache.
“I’m not really that kind of person, I will give as good as I get, to be honest with you, if it happens. I believe you have to be respectful; I have been the same way as an amateur. It’s a sport at the end of the day, I have not got a vendetta against anyone.”
Nottingham's Thomas is the first opponent with a winning record that Noakes will have faced as a pro. When questioned on changing his tactics for certain fights, the Maidstone-born fighter believes that you must be ready to adapt when in the ring.
“You have to have a rough idea and I know what I am going to do, but you cannot judge how he’s [Thomas] fighting a person just by watching him on YouTube, because I am not the one in the ring. You cannot go in there with too much of a game plan because you will have to adjust when you get in there and see how he fights; you just have to be ready to be adaptable.”
Boasting four stoppages in his first four fights as a paid puncher, Noakes considers himself more than just having fire in his artillery and explained just why he believes he's managed to secure a 100 per cent KO ratio so far, “I think it’s the pressure I apply really because, obviously, I’ve got power there, but I wouldn’t say that that I am just a one-punch knockout fighter, it’s just the relentless pressure I put on them – I am quite a fit athlete. I hit as hard in the first round as I do in the sixth, so you can make it or break it. I prefer getting stuck in rather than fighting on the outside, it is the most entertaining way for people.”
Trained by Alan Smith at the iBox Gym in Bromley, famed for producing champions, Noakes is part of a talented group of fighters with the added benefits of being teammates, stablemates, and in the exact same stages of their careers as emerging prospects with plenty of promise, plus an amateur pedigree behind them.
“I have done a lot of technical sparring with Dennis McCann and that’s what has probably helped me the most really because I know I can have a tear up; I know I can bite down when it gets tough.
“Taking the sparring down a little bit will help you progress better rather than just being in wars all the time in sparring.”
The former standout amateur had a tremendous vested career, winning 47 from 53 fights (27 via knockout), also capturing the Senior ABAs, Tri-Nations gold, two NABC titles, and gold in the Haringey Box Cup.
Like most young adults, Noakes never truly knew what he wanted to do as a career growing up, but the accolades and accomplishments speak for themselves - he is a man born to fight and his ability cannot be questioned.
“I always use to say as an amateur that I was going to stop when I went senior, but I probably had a better career as a senior than an amateur. It wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 that I thought 'You know what, this is what I want to do,' and started to proper knuckle down; it's going really well for me.”
The lightweight sensation looked ahead to the future, “I take it a fight at a time, really, I am in no rush. You get a lot of fighters, like last weekend, where they get rushed and, when they lose, they get pushed to the back of the queue - we are in an unforgiving sport.
“I do not want to rush up there and say I am ready to do this, I am not saying I would come unstuck, but you got to learn your trade, haven’t you? It’s a tough old game. I would rather do it correctly and when I get to the top, that is all that matters. You got to enjoy the journey, haven’t you? I trust my team to make the right decisions and I just do what they want me to do.”
Joining Noakes and Thomas on the Cacace-Woodstock bill, is younger brother of the WBC world heavyweight champion, Tommy Fury (4-0, 3KOs); and debutants Amaar Akbar; Adan Mohamed; Masood Abdulah. Nathan 'Hitman' Heaney (10-0, 3KOs) tackles 'The Wasp' Ryan Oliver (7-2, 1KO); and there's another title fight as unbeaten Kabul-born Brit Quaise Khademi (8-0, 2KOs) defends his WBO European super-flyweight title to Midlands champ Ijaz Ahmed (7-2), with the IBF European also on the line.