British Light-Heavyweight title contender Craig Richards styles himself as the ‘Spider’ but champion Shakan Pitters is threatening to snare him in his web then flush him down the pan when the fierce rivals collide for the title, exclusively live on free-to-air Channel 5, on Friday 18th December.
‘I’ve watched Richards many times and he’s so deluded, talks like he’s better than he is, and I’m looking forward to setting the record straight,’ says the 6ft 6in Brummie who is now unbeaten in 14 after collecting his crown with a comprehensive 12 round decision over Newark’s Chad Sugden in August.
‘I’ve already sparred plenty better than him. It may sound horrible but I’m really not impressed. I don’t rate his game at all. ‘Spider’s’ not a force in this division.
‘He gets frustrated very easily. He’s certainly not going to be able to outbox me and, if he tries to walk me down, he’ll get his head panned. I bring excitement and I’ll be letting my hands go, bringing the heat.’
During the pre-fight battle of minds, south Londoner Richards, 15-1-1, has been quick to highlight that he holds a sizeable edge in experience (three more paid starts) and has tested his skills against significantly stiffer competition than the champion who has ventured beyond round six only twice.
And the once world rated ‘Spider’ man – who made an unsuccessful domestic title challenge to Frank Buglioni (LPTS12) on the undercard of the Joshua-Takem world heavyweight title blockbuster at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2017 – also casts dispersions on how Pitters could cope under the elevated spotlight of Channel 5 at the Fly By Nite studio in Redditch.
However, skyscraper Shak, 31, scoffs at these perceived shortcomings.
He stresses: ‘Sparring is the closest thing to actually fighting and I’ve had loads of experience of that with heavyweights and cruiserweights plus some real good spars with (2016 Olympic medallist and departing domestic champ) Joshua Buatsi. I do ten rounds comfortable in the gym so it really ain’t gonna be an issue.
“Besides, Dec Spelman (beaten for the English title in September 2019) questioned whether I’d be able to do 10 rounds. Dec’s very game and came determined to avenge his previous loss to me. The pace was very high but I knew my boxing would prevail.”
“I headlined the night I won the title and showed I’ve got the temperament. It’s Craig who can’t deal with pressure. He froze against Buglioni in Cardiff and, when he fluffed his way to a draw against Chad Sugden last time, he claims it was because he was focussing on fighting me. Embarrassing! He seems to have an excuse for everything."
“He’ll soon discover I’m a naturally bigger man. I’m coming down from cruiser, he’s coming up from super-middle. I’m in the ring at about 13.5 and I see me hurting him, winning by stoppage or, at worse, by a massive margin on points. It ain’t gonna be close. He’s got very limited skills and I intend to spank him all over the ring. He’s getting shown up.”
Whoever prevails can contemplate future bonanza paydays against the likes of Anthony Yarde, Joshua Buatsi and Callum Johnson in what could blossom into a Golden Age for British light-heavies.
But sensible Shakan refuses to get ahead of himself, stating: “All I’ve got in my head is Craig Richards, 18th December, Redditch. I’ll not comment on anyone else until after that.”
“I’ll just focus on myself, what I can bring. Stuff Richards. I’ve had plenty of notice and I’ll push my body to the absolutely limit as I always do.”
“Mick Hennessy has obviously seen something in me to give me this chance and it’s good to be on board. I’m thrilled about the exposure that boxing on Channel Five will bring.”
“I’m very hard to beat. Trust me, Richards won’t ever have met anyone similar before. His spar mates won’t be able to mimic me.
‘I’ve got the heart, the grit and the skills. It’ll take something very special to beat me and Craig Richards certainly ain’t nothing special!”
The British Light-Heavyweight title showdown between Birmingham’s Shakan Pitters against Crystal Palace’s Craig Richards headlines the Hennessy Sports fight night. Chief support features the Midlands Area Middleweight Title between Coventry’s River Bent and Burntwood’s Troy Coleman, plus the Southern Area Super-Flyweight Title between Bexleyheath’s Sammy Cantwell and Southampton’s Ricky Little. The undercard features unbeaten Irish super-lightweight sensation Stephen McKenna; Sevenoaks super-welterweight Michael Hennessy Jr. and Birmingham middleweight Idris Virgo.