Undefeated Birmingham light-heavyweight hotshot Shakan Pitters claims the inexhaustible lung power that has taken him to the cusp of a British title can be traced to his primary school years and the eccentricities of his ex-pro father Colin.
On Saturday 28th March, the freakishly tall sharpshooter squares off against fierce domestic rival Craig Richards for the vacant domestic 175lb crown on promoter Mick Hennessy’s big bill at the Coventry Skydome, exclusively live in the UK on free-to-air Channel Five.
‘When I was in Year Four (age nine), a couple of times a week dad would wake up my mum and us kids at 4a.m and demand we go on a five mile run with him,’ revealed Pitters, who at a lofty 6ft 6in is the tallest contender in the division by some distance.
‘I didn’t mind because I was a good runner and just enjoyed doing everything Dad wanted me to do. When we got home, it’d be pull-ups on the door ledge and an ab circuit before going back to bed!
‘From the age of six, Dad had me in the gym, watching him hit the bags and coach the likes of Matt Macklin and Frankie Gavin at the Small Heath gym. As a kid I could hold my own sparring with older, heavier kids but dad never allowed me to box. He was confident I’d make it as a footballer.
‘I was on West Bromwich Albion’s books for about six years as a schoolboy. Those middle of the night jogs made a huge difference on the pitch. I could run non-stop. Coaches would ask: ‘What are they feeding him?’
‘But, unfortunately, I had injuries. The Albion released me so I turned to boxing, aged 22.’
For five seasons, Pitters flitted casually between the Second City and Eastside gyms, engaging in a score of bouts but paying scant regard for such rudiments as roadwork or nutrition. The arrival of his daughter four years ago forced the logistics worker to re-evaluate.
‘Suddenly, at 27, I needed money so started to do it properly,’ disclosed Pitters.
‘Though I never took it seriously as an amateur, I barely lost a handful and always acquitted myself well sparring good pros like Terry Carruthers, Dee Mitchell and Cella Rendo at Eastside. I knew if I kept my discipline, I had the talent and attributes to go far.’
The Brummie boy comes from good breeding. In the early 1990s, his father Colin extended Richie Woodhall, then a 6-0 prospect and a future WBC World Champion; plus quality champions Steve Foster, Neville Brown and Adrian Dodson. Colin’s brother Rob lost just one of his first dozen as a hot light-middle prospect before descending into the role of a journeyman.
‘There was no chance I was going on the road, as my dad and uncle had,’ states Shakan.
‘Dad’s mindset was just to earn money to support the household. He was a smoker but, when he took it seriously, he was very capable.
‘Though he never wanted me to take the boxing up and hasn’t been to many fights, I know he’s proud. He’ll be at my British title challenge.
Since first dipping his toes into the professional pool in March 2017, skyscraper ‘Shak’ has racked up 13 straight wins, bagging an Ultimate Boxxer crown at London’s O2 Indigo in November 2018 and the English 12st 7lb title following a comprehensive 10 round decision over Scunthorpe’s 16-2 Dec Spelman at the York Hall last September.
Though 10 of his fights have been scheduled for four rounds or less, his raking right hand has registered four brutal stoppages (all inside two rounds) with three victims succumbing to the full 10 count.
‘I don’t have the physique of a strongman but, as a young kid, could always hit those punch machines hard and dad commented on my power on the pads before I’d even had any bouts. In sparring, I’ve hurt heavyweights and cruisers,’ he claims.
‘As a kid, Tommy Hearns was an idol. Like him, I’ve got the range, distance, technique, twist and leverage to generate serious power. I can crack with or without gloves. I’m a chilled guy but I’ve banged a few over on the street…the last one because they spat at my girlfriend.
‘I’ve also got excellent natural stamina, just as I had as a footballer. And my inside game is pretty underrated. My style’s not one dimensional, it’s a bit crazy, very hard to train for. I alternate, depending on what’s in front of me.
‘Against Dec Spelman - a real hard puncher - I showed I can fight on the back foot but I’m equally comfortable going forward. Dad had me going forward and back on the pads and when skipping, at a very young age so it’s natural. Others might think Dad was barmy, but I’ve a lot to thank him for!’
A top quality undercard is headlined with the return of red-hot cruiserweight talent Isaac Chamberlain from Brixton, South London, as he returns to action and back on his pursuit of a world title.
The Pitters-Richards card also features some great Midlands match ups that includes a fiery Coventry derby between welterweights Jordan Cooke and Michael Green over six-rounds; Birmingham’s Ishmael Ellis takes on Walsall’s Shaun Cooper over six rounds at lightweight; Coventry's River Wilson Bent clashes with Tamworth's Lee Gunter in a four-round light-middleweight contest; Tamworth welterweight Tom Silcox in a four-round contest; Birmingham super-featherweight Lewis Coley in a four-round contest; Leamington Spa lightweight Danny Quartermine in a four-round contest and Battersea light-heavyweight Mark Williams in a four-round contest.
Also on the card will be exciting middleweight prospect Michael Hennessy Jr. from Sevenoaks, Kent, in his fifth professional bout in a six round contest.
For further information go to www.hennessysports.com or social media: Facebook @HennessySports, Twitter @HennessySports and Instagram @hennessysports and join the conversation at #PittersRichards