Matchroom’s ‘Fight Camp’ culminates this week with the pay-per-view card headlined by Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. The card also boasts the mouth-watering welterweight grudge match between Londoners Luther Clay and Chris Kongo. ESBR caught up with Kongo before he made the short trip to Matchroom HQ in Brentwood.
“Training has been good, we’ve managed to train and keep ticking over so I can’t complain. Finding sparring partners has been alright the only challenge was settling down in a proper gym. Gyms weren’t really supposed to be open, so I got my work in the parks or anywhere we could. I’m prepared for the fight, on weight and all good. I’m raring to go.”
This is the second time that this bout has been scheduled, as like many others it had to be cancelled due to the current global situation. It was originally planned for February on Josh Kelly’s undercard, before getting rearranged for Saturday night.
“It has definitely been frustrating, it has been a long time. Going through it I’ve just had to keep my head up and stay strong. I had a break for around two weeks before I was back training and running, doing what I need to do.”
Despite being previously arranged, there were talks that Clay may take another fight with his manager, Al Siesta exploring other avenues. Fortunately, Eddie Hearn was able to broker a deal with Clay’s team for the fight to feature at Fight Camp.
“He wasn’t interested in fighting me, he’s a bit scared. That’s why he was looking at another fight when ours was still on the table. His manager was looking elsewhere and hadn’t been communicating with us. I think they have been overlooking me.”
Bermondsey-born Kongo has yet to be truly tested as a pro, with Clay being the first fighter he has faced with a positive record. Whilst it is arguably the most hotly-contested fight on the card, many experts are undecided on who will get their hand raised. Both fighters enjoy dominating the fights, with their ring presence and natural-born power, which could lead to fireworks.
“He’s got a good style and comes forward well. His strength is to be the aggressor and dictate the fight from the centre of the ring. But he won’t be pushing me back, trust me. I’ve got the strength and power to trade with him, I’m big for the weight. He’s going to find it hard to dictate this fight.”
Despite Clay’s talents, there will is only one outcome that the twenty-seven-year-old Kongo can visualise. The current British welterweight scene boats a plethora of talent, and a win on Saturday night could catapult him close to the summit.
“I’m going for the knockout, I don’t think this fight will last. This win is going to put me out there as one of the best welterweights in the UK. It should secure me a place in the top ten, or even top five. I just need to go out there and perform to prove I’m the best out there. I can go all the way, we are definitely going to go all the way.”
Fans are now starting to become acclimatised to boxing with no live gate. Although for many fighters, this is the first time that they haven’t had a crowd for a number of years. Chris is hoping that his vast experience in the amateurs will aid him come fight night. This card also has the potential to attract a considerable amount of Pay-per-view buys, giving a great platform to the competitors.
“I’ve watched every single bit of fight Camp, visualising the situation. It's been great, they’ve been a great three shows. I’m looking forward to it and I can’t wait to be a part of it. The big stage is very important for me and my career so I can keep building myself. I thrive under that kind of pressure and I know that it will make me perform better. Crowd or no crowd, I’ll fight regardless, it's all about how you are mentally and mentally I’m good. I don’t need a crowd to spur me on. I’m definitely going to use my amateur background and take it into consideration, knowing that I fought in certain places with about five people there. It's definitely something I will take with me into Saturday's fight.”
Due to the need for mass testing at their shows, Matchroom has set up the bubble, a hotel in which fighters get tested and quarantine at the week before shows. However, all competitors are in the same hotel, leading the risk of bumping into one another, creating a whole new level of mind game. This isn’t something new for Kongo, who had similar experiences during his amateur days.