Updated: Aug 7, 2019
Luke Willis moved to (9-0 1KO) last month and has established himself as one of the brightest talents to emerge from the North West this year.
A southpaw with an abundance of natural talent, he is not only supremely skilful, he has personality and a back story that will endear him to the British Boxing public.
Willis, 27, hails from Huyton, Liverpool and is currently signed to Steve Wood’s VIP Promotions. He turned professional on the back of a successful but largely interrupted amateur career due to injuries and personal circumstance. He credits the problems in his personal life as one of the main motivations as a professional athlete.
“Life has humbled me already. No matter what I go through in boxing it will never be worse than what I have gone through as a person. I live for fight night, getting to the ring is the hard part. There are no nerves when I fight, just excitement. I am happy when I am in the ring”
Over 2 years has passed since his debut and with the ‘learning’ fights seemingly complete, Willis has been vocal in interviews and on social media trying to secure big, televised fights. Despite his unbeaten record remaining in-tact, frustration has begun to creep in with two fights falling through recently, on high profile undercards.
The passion in Luke Willis’s voice is clear when the conversation shifts to the potential of these bigger fights coming to fruition in 2019;
“I need these big fights now, I have been a professional for a few years and I am ready, If I keep my mouth shut, no one will know who I am. This boxing game is about more than being talented”
‘I am going to keep calling people out. It will always be respectfully, but they will eventually have to give me a shot. All the top kids in my division, the likes of Joe Cordina and Lewis Ritson, they are good and they will be hard fights but they have big reputations because they are being hyped by Sky and Eddie Hearn, no-one is doing that for me, I have to do it myself”
When asked whether he thinks being vocal after 9 fights will be interpreted negatively, Willis intelligently replies;
“Not really, whether people want to watch me win or want to watch me lose, either way they are going to want to watch me”
Willis has trained under the guidance of Danny Withington at ‘No Limit’s’ gym in Liverpool for the majority of his professional career alongside the likes of Tom Farrell, Mason Cartwright and Tom McGuinness to name a few. It’s clear that Willis is a happy fighter when being in the gym and around his team mates;
“I get to wake up in the morning and go and train with my mates. To be honest, if it weren’t for all the lads in the gym and all the coaches I don’t know where I would be. When I went through a bad period personally, they could have left me but they didn’t, they stuck by me and that sums up our gym”
For every fight of his career so far, the name ‘Darcie’ has been printed boldly across the front of his shorts in recognition of his young daughter and the overriding thought after speaking with Luke Willis is that his desire to be a success in Boxing is driven by more than belts, money or fame and more of a personal responsibility to provide a brighter future for his daughter and his immediate family.
“I want better for me and my family. I want to give my daughter the life she deserves. I live with my mum and my sister, and I see them struggling and if I don’t go out and fight for us, then nobody is going to do it. If you put someone in the opposite corner and tell me to beat them and it will better my family’s life, then nobody is going to stop me”
As the interview draws to a close, Willis makes a comment that resonates;
“Boxing is easy, life is hard. I just want to succeed and show people that no matter what you go through, you can make something positive out of yourself’
It may have taken longer than anticipated for Luke Willis to get the big fights and the exposure he craves, but one thing is for sure, his burning ambition combined with his abundance of talent will make him a very dangerous addition the British Lightweight scene in 2019.
Photos By Karen Priestley