Irish Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin talks to David Hennessy about his upcoming “breakout fight” against Freddy Fonseca, why the press jump on negative headlines about him and his thoughts on boxer Patrick Day’s tragic death
Seven years on from taking Olympic silver in the city, Irish boxer John Joe Nevin is looking to take his first professional belt in London. Five and a half years on from going professional, Nevin is undefeated after 13 bouts in the professional ranks. John Joe Nevin goes up against Freddy Fonseca for the vacant WBA International Super-Featherweight Championship in London’s York Hall on Saturday 16 November.
Nevin told The Irish World: ”This is my breakout fight. I’ve had 13 fights already but there’s been a lot of setbacks injuries. it’s a positive time and luck is on my side now.”
The fight will be televised on Channel 5 with Freddy Fonseca’s brother Francisco fighting Alex Dilmaghi for the IBO Super Featherweight title in the headline fight: “I just have to have my hair done before I go on TV to make sure my hair looks good.
“It’s my time to shine. It’s a big opportunity. Great platform. Just go out there and enjoy it. The better the opponent, the better it brings out in me. I want a lad to have a go at me. Freddy is going to bring that and I’m really looking forward to it.”
His Nicaraguan opponent has lost just four of 32 and was world ranked until recently coming off two defeats this year: “No opponent is easy but I know I have the tools to beat him. It looks on record like he would have more experience than me but people forget that I have numerous World Championships, Olympics as an amateur. I’m sure he hasn’t seen what I’ve gone through.
“He is going to bring the big shots but he’s going to walk onto something. People don’t understand that I can punch, I can really punch. I hold back in a lot of things. I will be ready for it. He will be coming out thinking he is going to take my head off but I haven’t seen anyone do it yet. I think he’s too slow for me. I think past five or six rounds, he’ll see he’s up against a different opponent from what he’s usually facing. I’m hoping to take him out of there. He will walk onto something. He’s looking at the record thinking, he hasn’t got much of a punch’. Trust me, he’s going to walk onto something.”
John Joe mentions the setbacks that have delayed his shot at a pro belt. There have been injuries and also controversy with the boxer who is a member of the travelling community finding himself in the papers for non-sporting reasons that include a public fight with his father and a fracas in a Mullingar pub.
“The media are just going to pick up on everything. They just want a story. When you’re winning, all’s well. When they have got no good stories, they look for something negative. I’m not there to give the media stories, I just want to win a world title and hopefully then, it will be more positive. I’m focused on myself. I don’t care what people put in the media. I’m focused on my career and to bring back a world title to Ireland would be incredible. My home town hasn’t had much to cheer since the Olympics, coming back with good news from boxing but hopefully if I bring back a world title, we can fill the streets again.
“Now the time is right. I’m going to pick up this first belt and move on and chase after the big one.
“I’ve had five years as a pro but I’ve had a lot of heavy years as an amateur. I’m ready to go for another long distance now. I’m ready. My body is in good condition and it’s time to take that belt now and move up the rankings and do what I set out to do, be world champion.”
The world of boxing has been shaking recently by the death of Patrick Day. John Joe does not support any reactionary changing of rules, saying it would kill the sport that he loves and Patrick loved: “Life is a big risk. If you jump into a car, your life is at risk. You walk down the street, your life is at risk. He died doing what he loved. They’re talking about bringing head guards in and this and that. How could you bring in head guards into a professional sport? We sign up to do this. This is our life. I know nothing else only boxing. If I retired from boxing, the truth is I would still have to be involved in it some way. It’s my life and I’m sure Patrick Day died doing what he loved.”
London holds bittersweet memories for Nevin for, while it is where he collected his Olympic silver medal, he knows he could so easily have been one more step up on the podium: “It could have been gold. I didn’t win it on the day but another day I could have. Split decision, there was two points in it at the end of it. That’s nothing in terms of amateur boxing but it’s been good career for me so far. Silver medal at the Olympics, you couldn’t complain with that.”
Since she collected her Olympic gold at London 2012, Katie Taylor has gone on to become multiple world champion. Michael Conlan has also gone on to a sterling professional career and winning titles. Having watched them, Nevin believes it’s his turn now: “It’s my turn now. I beat Oscar Valdez in the Olympic quarter final, he’s world champion now. Luke Campbell, I’ve beaten twice. He’s fought for world titles two or three times, he’s going to get one. I’ve beaten Jono Carroll, he’s fought for a world title. All these names that I’ve beaten and had victories over have all gone on to fight for world titles and been world champions, I know all I needed was a breakout fight and this is it.”
Nevin v Fonseca is live on Channel 5 from 9pm on Saturday 16th November with the undercard starting a 7pm on 5Spike