Unbeaten Middleweight Nathan Heaney (10-0, 2KO) prepares to return to the ring this Saturday night as he matches up against Ryan Oliver (7-2, 1KO) live on BT Sport.
The Stoke-on-Trent native will end a near year-long layoff from the squared circle and will also be fighting under the Queensbury banner for the first time, an opportunity that he is keen to sink his teeth into.
“Originally, there were whispers in 2019 when I boxed on the Birmingham arena show that they wanted to sign me. So, when I boxed there, I brought hundreds of fans down with me and I thought I’ve got to be signed because we took over the place and there were world and British champions on there and they had nowhere near the support. It got to early 2020 and I fought for the Intercontinental and the atmosphere was bloody brilliant, my place was sold out.”
Heaney admitted that he didn’t think the signing was going to come after all.
“Then lockdown happened in March and I thought it wasn’t going to happen and then two weeks into lockdown I got my contract, and it was absolutely mint, so I had an idea for a while that they wanted to, and they must have been waiting because they signed quite a few from around the North and Midlands at the same time so they were patient with it.”
Heaney joins Queensberry Promotions
After a near year-long absence, Heaney stated that time has flown by during his time away.
“It has been strange in the sense of it feels like the last fight was two months ago, time has absolutely flown by so in terms of performance and the atmosphere and everything it’s very surreal. It doesn’t even feel like that layoff has happened so, I don’t think it’s going to affect me at all, I won’t be thinking like it’s been a year since I last fought it genuinely feels like it was two or three months ago so it’s weird.”
For Heaney fighting on a nationally televised event is a big moment and a huge stage to impress.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I had a good time slot on that Birmingham show before, but I was a float, the opponent wasn’t great, and I wasn’t one of Frank Warrens top fighters, whereas this time it’s a lot different. It’s strange because when you mention Twitter and stuff and all these fighters and stuff it’s weird that people are putting my name with these fighters and now my names a top name on there now.”
Heaney will be without his lively and loyal supporters for the contest which he admits will be a loss.
“It’s going to be a massive loss because they do play a role in your performances in the sense of when you’re tired and you can hear them chanting you on it gives you a second burst. On the flip side, when they go quite you think am I doing the right thing here? So, it’s going to be a weird one, but I think the main thing is it won’t be enjoyable, there’s no better feeling than walking out to 1,000 people cheering you on and singing Delilah, it’s just special so to not have that is going to be gutting but, it is what it is. I’m going to get the win and move on to next time and hopefully, everything will be sorted and the fans can be back.”
The Hitman went viral for the atmosphere his fans made during his entrance to his last contest, but he wants to prove he’s more than a novelty act.
“If people know me, they’ll predominantly know me through that entrance and it’s now time for me to prove that I am a fighter. I mean, I’ve been doing it bloody twenty years now so I’m just grateful that I’ve gotten the opportunity to prove it now.”
The 30-year-old is anticipating a great and exciting fight against Oliver.
“I think we’ll see how my jab works and I think I’ll be able to land some good shots just like he’ll be able to land good shots if I do the wrong things. If I can land clean you never know what could happen but I think it’ll be a good exciting contest and I think one of us will get caught, who that is I’m not too sure, I’m hoping it’s me that catches him. I think it’ll be whoever establishes the jab first but I’m feeling good for it, but I won’t make a prediction for it.”
Heaney acknowledges his loyal, passionate supporters
For Heaney, the next step if he wins on the weekend isn’t certain but his overall goal is to challenge for the coveted British title.
“I want to do well in the fight and then hopefully have a proper face to face meeting with Frank Warren, obviously he phoned me when I signed and we had a good chat, but I don’t know the route they want to take me yet. They must have a plan because they know what kind of support I’ve got and surely they’ll want to build on that, so I don’t have a clue. There’s no one name that I think about other than toward the end of 2021 being pushed towards that British title, I mean that’s a mint fight between (Denzel) Bentley and (Felix) Cash, but I don’t know.”
The Middleweight prospect is very respectful of Bentley's ability but is relishing the chance to fight him if and when the opportunity arises.
“I know my coaches would 100% take fights with those kinds of fighters. If you want to get anywhere in the sport you have to take on these domestic challenges, I mean if you’re talking of world level fighters like Liam Williams, we’ll lay off that for now, but with the other guys, we’re not that far off at all. I can’t say how we’d go because I won’t know until I’m in there. I think with Bentley you have to be switched on at all times because he can punch, but I think if you’re boxing and moving then I think you can do well. You’ll have to hit him hard as well because you have to get his respect.”
Heaney can feel fortunate that he has since signed with Frank Warren, with the small hall scene in the UK still to return.
“It’s been absolutely brutal. Like I think where would I be without signing with Queensbury? All that momentum that I had built could have potentially disappeared, I don’t think it would fully disappear because I have very loyal supporters, but for the small hall guys it’s brutal. You see that the only way they’re going to get an opportunity is by going on a big show as the underdog and usually a big underdog so it is brutal but hopefully it will be back soon.”
The Stoke man is hopeful that his large following will tempt Queensbury promotions to stage a show at Heaney’s own personal lions’ den, Kings Hall in Stoke.
“I’d love for Queensbury to come up to my local place in Kings Hall on the video of the walkout because I genuinely believe it would be one of the best small hall atmospheres they’ve ever seen. The video doesn’t do it justice to just how loud it is in there and I think they would be interested in that. It’s strange the amount of people that have messaged me from Liverpool, Newcastle and all these places around the UK telling me to let them know when I’m next fighting because they want to be there because they want the atmosphere.”
Heaney puts on a show in front of his home crowd | Stoke Sentinel
Heaney heads into the bubble for the first time this week which will be a new experience for the Midlands man.
“I don’t think my coaches will like it too much, they like to be out there and doing stuff but to be honest I like my own company. It’s strange though because I’m an extrovert and I love speaking to people and stuff, but I think I’ll be fine in there and I’ve bought a VR headset so in my room I’ll just be playing on my headset whilst waiting around. So, it’ll be different, but it will be fine.”
The Hitman is hoping to just lay low within the bubble during fight week.
“I didn’t really think about that to be honest, it will be weird because I am quite distant and stuff when it comes to opponents so it will be different and my coaches are the same, so we’ll likely keep ourselves to ourselves and stay away as much as possible if that even is possible.”
For the hugely popular Heaney, he is relishing the chance to gain some new support and wants to impress the audience.
“The fans can expect that I have put all my effort in to be the best I can be on the night. They can expect a fast, explosive fighter and a rangy one that makes things look smooth and nice and just be the best I can be to win. Hopefully, people get entertained by it even from an amateur people would come up to me and say that’s the best fight I’ve ever seen, and I must have got that about ten times as an amateur just because I’m involved in good fights. I’ve had it sometimes in the pros as well, me and Tom Stokes got nominated for best fight in the Midlands so hopeful people get entertained by it.”
Heaney came across as a down to earth Stokie aiming for the sky, and with his support and ability, the sky may well and truly be the limit for this popular, unbeaten Middleweight. I would advise following the journey.