On what is a very interesting weekend for boxing - with the likes of Whyte, Povetkin, Metcalf and Cheeseman all set to clash - one fight is falling a little under the radar. Two unbeaten up-and-coming prospects, in a jam-packed welterweight division, are looking to etch their names into the big time: Sam Gilley (11-0 KO 5) and Danny Ball (9-0-1 KO 4) go head-to-head over ten rounds live on BT Sport this Friday night.
With many boxers’ opportunities limited, Gilley feels very fortunate to be fighting on such a big stage.
“First of all, I’m so lucky I got my last fight in because I was the last show before lockdown. For MTK not to have any television deal to be putting on the shows and the competitive fights is unbelievable. I’m so lucky to be with MTK and in the position I’m in fighting on BT. Lee Eaton rang me and said listen this is your shot and go and take it, and that was it the fight was accepted and done in about five hours. Me and Rod put our names forward for a number of fights in the last year, so we were looking for a fight and was patient with different offers.”
The 26-year-old believes that this will be a strong performance against Ball and see’s a stoppage win coming.
“There are a number of things me and Rod have gone over that he does that will get him into trouble with me, especially with my style. I think he’s textbook built to the style I like to fight. Curtis Felix in my last fight is like a complete nightmare for me but Danny is set up perfectly for the shots I’ll be picking on the night. I think it will be competitive early on, but the way I am in training at the minute, I can see myself breaking him down and stopping him late.”
Sam has caught covid whilst training and has battled through that and feels he’s in tip top shape coming into the contest.
“I caught covid and Rod caught it quite bad, and he was in quite a bad way, but thankfully he’s back to full fitness and back in the gym moaning everyday like he’s always doing. So I got back in the gym very quick to be fair and staying in shape because I was up Matchroom sparring with Kell Brook and all them. And before that was down sparring Josh Taylor, so I was always staying fit and ticking over with my sparring and then it was December and that’s when I caught covid but I’m flying now.”
Gilley hasn’t seen the inside of the squared circle in a little over a year, but he isn’t fazed by the time off and doesn’t envisage a problem.
“Ring rust isn’t a worry really ,that’s why I’ve been sparring all year. Rod gets me top sparring and that keeps me sharp, and in with world level fighters and it keeps me working at a very high work rate. Even if I haven’t got a fight date Rod knows that sort of sparring will turn me on, in terms of it’ll focus me if he says you’ve got sparring on Wednesday my whole week will revolve around that sparring on Wednesday. So it keeps me focused on things and keeps me ticking over so I can’t see ring rust being a problem. I mean, he’s been out longer than I have so if anyone’s going to have ring rust it’s him.”
‘Magic’ has even had an additional two weeks in camp and feels super fit for Friday night.
“What’s weird is that with these big companies like Boxnation, BT and Matchroom, say you get given March 26th as a date, they will ring you and tell you it’s been brought forward two weeks, so they’ll cut your camp short. I’ve heard that’s happened to a few fighters. But they told me March 13th, so they’ve given me two weeks extra. I’m sitting here rubbing my hands together. I’ve been in camp since mid-December and I’m flying, I’m fitter now then I was for the Felix fight and it will be a great performance on March 26th.”
Gilley believes he will be at his very best and sees the lack of a crowd as an intriguing prospect.
“It’s been happening for a long time now. It’s been a year without fans but in my last fight the atmosphere was crazy, and the more I watch that fight the more disappointed I am with it because in my eyes it’s such a bad performance from me. It’s entertaining but if you listen to what Rods telling me in the corner, I’m not listening to a word of it. I’m actually quite looking forward to going back to the days of when I was in the amateurs fighting in front of five people. I mean when we spar there’s nobody there it’s just me, Rod, the other lad and his trainer and that’s it. It will be a little eery walking out to nobody there. I spoke to Conor Benn and he says it’s the best thing he’s ever done because he can concentrate so much more, and I think it will bring the best out of me.”
The Londoner has his eyes on the winner of the British title fight between Chris Jenkins and Ekow Essuman, a fight which is looking to be rearranged after the injury to the champion Jenkins.
“By a mile I want the winner of Jenkins and Essuman. I’ve got to beat Danny Ball and I’ve got to put my name forward for these things. I’m turning 27 in a few months and I’m going to be coming into my prime in the next 18 months. Listen if I have to have a couple more fights in between then fine but I’ve got to put my name into the hat. To even have the opportunity to win a British title is end of the rainbow stuff, and the prestige that comes with it and the rankings it gets you that’s a big goal for me.”
Gilley believes he’s as good as anyone at Welterweight and wants to prove that he has that little bit extra than the rest of the division.
“I’ve got the power to hurt anyone at Welterweight, so it’s down to me to develop the skills to land the punches on these boys, and that will push me on further. Me and Rod are doing different things in the gym all the time: we’re watching things back and recording different things and picking things up to improve my technique and ability every single day. I’ve got the power, strength and fitness to match anything, so now I just need that little bit extra to go past them and onto the higher levels.”
Everyone wants to go on holiday and Sam is no different, but in a years’ time he wants to be in the mix for the British title.
“On holiday. No, it’d be nice to get back onto BT with the WBC international silver title round my waist and then I’ve got to put my name in the hat for the British, say if someone pulls out or someone can’t get an opponent for it, I’m going to say yes to it. I’ve got to be in the mix if I'm not fighting for it. I mean the queue is massive, every single name in the top 20 at welterweight in Britain is dangerous. There’s some cracking fighters out there so I need that little bit extra and to bring a little bit more to the table to push past and get to that slot, and once I’m there I’m going to beat anyone that’s opposite me.”
Gilley is an exciting fighter, and with a chance to prove it on the big stage he urges fans to tune in to the event.
“Fans can expect a much more controlled performance from last time. But ultimately, they’ll see me knocking Danny Ball out between 6-10. I think it will be a very entertaining fight, it always is with me, so everyone should tune in.”