BBN's Tim Redigolo paid a visit to George Hennon's gym as he prepares for his third professional fight at York Hall, Bethnal Green on April 29th.
The 22-year-old prospect from Snodland - a little town near Maidstone - has so far defeated Matt Seawright and Ali Wyatt, having turned pro in June 2015 following a successful career in kickboxing which saw him crowned English and European champion.
The Kent-born puncher will make his first appearance at the world-famous York Hall when he takes on Danny Donchev in two weeks’ time.
Tim threw 12 rounds of questions at George and here’s what he had to say…
Round 1. How did you first get into boxing?
GH: From a young age, when I was six, my dad took me to a kickboxing gym and I stayed there for about 13 years. As I grew older I wanted to become a boxer. I much preferred the boxing side of it so I made the move to boxing with my younger brother in an amateur gym called St Mary’s in Chatham. I absolutely loved it, there was so much more to learn when making the transition from kickboxing to boxing. At first, I was going to go through the Queensbury Boxing League run by Ross Minter in Surrey but then I found Johnny Greaves and started training with him, and from there we turned over last June, and that’s how it all started.
Round 2. Who was your boxing hero growing up?
GH: I always loved Ricky Hatton. When I was young, I liked Mike Tyson a lot but my idol is definitely the Hitman [Ricky Hatton].
Round 3. Talk us through your amateur background?
GH: I had no amateur background at all. There’s quite a big difference in style from the amateurs to the pros, and I think my style and the way I fight is better suited to the professional ranks. I went to one of the ABA's shows and I didn’t get the feel or enjoy it too much. There was a lot of home backing, I was at an event in London and all the London-based gyms were winning. It felt really biased to me and I didn’t take to it too much.
Round 4. What made you decide to turn pro?
GH: I had a medical done for amateur boxing, but through meeting John and training with him he suggested I went professional and I jumped at the chance. John was the biggest influence in my decision to turn pro, definitely. I only met him when I started boxing about a year and a half ago now and I’ve not looked back.
Round 5. Are you full-time as a pro?
GH: I’m not, I’m still scaffolding. It can be difficult balancing the two. It’s not too bad up until the final two weeks before the fight, when you’re on weight and in shape it can become a bit tedious with having to work and get up at 4:20am every day. You’re doing your scaffolding and then heading straight to the gym afterwards to go training. When you’re doing an eight-week training camp, the last fortnight can get tough but you’ve just got to get through it. Hopefully one day a sponsor will pick me up.
Round 6. How did you find your first two pro fights?
GH: Really good. I was comfortable in both fights and I’m looking forward to, providing I can get through my next fight because I try not to look past my upcoming opponent, to fight someone who is going to come forward and really try and beat me. I think that would suit my style better as I see myself as a counter-puncher. Everyone fights better when they’ve got someone good in front of them. When I’ve got sparring partners in front of me I feel like I perform a lot better.
Round 7. What aspects of your boxing are aided by your kickboxing experience?
GH: I’m quite agile on my feet and that’s probably thanks to my kickboxing history. There’s a lot of quick footwork and getting in and out when you do kickboxing. But I’ve had to change my style; I have quite a wide stance which I’m working on bringing in tighter. My movement has also been impacted by my kickboxing, and I’ve got strong legs.
Round 8. Any ideas who your fighting in your next bout?
GH: I’ll be fighting Danny Donchev, who is a journeyman. Danny beat the guy I beat last time, Ali Wyatt, and he’s been in the ring with some top quality opponent. He knows his way around the ring and it’s another durable type of opponent for me to face. Hopefully, I can get out there inside the four rounds, we’ve prepared for it to go all the way anyway but if the knockout comes, it comes. I’m feeling much better now after the injury. Training is going great and the back is healing. I feel good at the moment so everything is cool.
Round 9. Have your training camps differed from one another, or are you preparing in the same way?
GH: I’ve done a lot more strength and conditioning work during this training camp. John’s brother Frank, who also trains me, is really good with circuits. It’s made a huge difference, which is something I hadn’t realised until now. I can feel the effects of the training already.
Round 10. What team do you have around you? GH: John and Frank are the main two members of my training team. Then there’s Sonny Whiting, who got me in the gym with John. But it’s mainly John, Frank and myself putting the work in down the Peacock gym.
Round 11. How is the support you receive in fights?
GH: I’ve got such good friends and family that come out and support me. My friends will bring their mates, my dad’s got people he’s not seen in years getting in touch with him and coming down to my fights - it’s fantastic! On your debut, everyone wants to come and see you and I thought that tickets sales might drop for my next fight but they didn’t. I ended up selling more for my second fight than my first, and ahead of my third bout I’ve outsold both my previous ones, and that’s great! Selling tickets can sometimes be a pain because people can let you down at the last minute. I suppose you take it with a pinch of salt when people tell you they're coming down, it’s only settled once you’ve got the money in your hand. But I’m used to it though because I was selling tickets during my kickboxing career as well, I’ve been doing it since I was at school. I’ve never struggled to get rid of my tickets so it doesn’t bother me at all.
Round 12. Any message for the fans?
GH: To all my friends and family I just want to say thank you for all your support from the first fight all the way through. Hopefully they’ll continue to support me as I improve. It’s only the beginning of the journey.