I was thrilled to be able to chat recently with promising British Heavyweight contender, Fabio Wardley. After impressively winning the English Heavyweight title only a matter of months ago at Matchroom’s Fight Camp, Wardley was eager to put on another spectacle against the mightily-experienced Richard Lartey. As promised, he delivered the goods…
“It was good. I felt like I started a bit slowly. I wasn’t too happy with the first round; how it went, how I performed, how I looked, and I how I felt really. I was a bit flat-footed and laboured in the things that I did, and the way I moved. I just wasn’t light and floaty, like I usually like to be. But, after that, I warmed through, woke up in the second round, shook everything off and got things moving. I was pinging the jab through well; I found my range and got things moving, and then obviously, finished off with a left-right.
Me being quite evasive and awkward to hit, has always been a big thing that we’ve worked on. I’ve never wanted to be a stand-still target and just ride the shots. I’ve always wanted to work my way out or avoid them completely, so it’s definitely something that we’ve been working on. It’s been difficult to showcase it really, because I haven’t had the right opponents to do it with. With Lartey, there were little glimpses of it I was able to show - at least, it’s getting there”.
Wardley remarks that fighting at Wembley Arena was a rather surreal experience, given that he has made the transition from spectator to performer, of which many can only dream.
“It’s a great venue to be a part of. To say that you’ve boxed at Wembley is quite a prestigious thing. It was funny for me to be honest, because, a few years back, I went to a comedy show there. So, it was almost a bit weird to be back at Wembley. I’m now the one performing, whereas, in the past, I’ve sat in those seats and watched other people perform. I loved it; it would have been a good one to be at, but obviously especially with fans there”.
As a protégé of Dillian Whyte and someone who holds him in high regard, Wardley is extremely grateful for his support and aspires to emulate a similar path of success. He also gives his respectful view on Whyte’s most recent encounter with Alexander Povetkin.
“I’ve spoken to Dillian about the fight. He was happy with everything and pleased that I did the job, ultimately. He just wants to be able to put me on the stage and give me those opportunities, and, in the end, for me to be able to say that I did my best. He wants me to go just as far as he is right now, and he wants me to be up there. He’s fully behind me and supporting.
It was just an unfortunate series of events. Dill was in complete control of the fight, doing very well, and he looked like he was going to get Povetkin out of there in a round, or two more rounds. Obviously, the knockdown wasn’t very nice to see, but Dill did what he does: dusted himself off, picked himself up, and got straight back in the gym and training towards the re-match date. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan because Povetkin got COVID-19, which makes it difficult because there is a bigger delay, and it kind of messes his things up with the WBC, as well. On the bright side, he gets more to time to train and prepare for the rematch”.
Fabio is extremely aware that, as an up-and-coming, hungry fighter, his name is being mentioned in the same breath as numerous other British Heavyweights. However, his tunnel-vision mindset allows him to remain grounded and fixated on his own development. He also weighs up a potential future bout with fellow Englishman, Nathan Gorman.
“It does give me confidence, of course. I try not to compare myself with other boxers’ performances. I just want to be happy with my individual performance. I did well with a good fighter, who has tested other people in the past, but I was able to deal with him pretty well and pretty comfortably. That in its own isolation is what I’m happy with, as opposed to using it as a measuring stick with someone else.
It’s a great fight. It’s something I don’t think that Nathan would shy away from, and neither would I. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him and getting to know him a bit more, from spending a few weeks sparring together, in readiness for his fight with Daniel Dubois. So, we’ve got a bit of a relationship there and there’s a good mutual boxing respect between us. He’s the only one really who’s in that kind of similar realm and level to me, in terms of being worthy to fight for the British title”.
Although 2020 has been somewhat turbulent for many, Wardley regards it as the year that has ultimately kick-started his boxing career. He is keen to maintain his current drive and focus, with his sights firmly set on making an appearance on the undercard of Whyte versus Povetkin 2. Fabio is also hopeful to get some valuable rounds under his belt, coupled with facing some testing opponents.
“It’s been a big year for me exposure-wise. I won the English title, which has helped gain me a lot of respect on its own, and I’ve dealt with Richard Lartey in good fashion. This has made people make those obvious comparisons, which has then put a lot of eyes on me, as well. It’s nice to be making those improvements; pushing through into the main view of the public; and just boxing as a whole, that my name is now mentioned very highly amongst other good boxers.