Boxing returns to Sky Sports this weekend with Eddie Hearn trialling out a brand-new idea of Fight Night on a Sunday evening. The bill is action-packed and kicks off with what could be the fight of the night, John Harding Jr (8-1-1) challenging the Nigerian-born Brit, Linus Udofia for the English Middleweight Title. Linus is currently unbeaten and holds a record of 15-0-0 (7 KO’s) and he will be defending his title for the first time after winning the vacant belt against Tyler Denny. It will be the second time John Harding Jr will be fighting for the English title after losing to Jack Cullen in February 2019.
John last fought back in March with a second-round knockout victory over Kristaps Zulgis and since then has spent all summer in training camp with Dillian Whyte over in Portugal. He was helping Dillian prepare for his first bout with Alexander Povetkin and has no doubt benefited from the extended training camp due to COVID restrictions. I asked John on his thoughts of returning to the ring post-COVID and his take on his opponent, Linus Udofia.
“I am excited by my current situation; I have trained really hard for this fight and feel stronger than ever. As for my opponent, he has a bag of tricks but nothing that concerns me, he has cherry-picked his opponents on his way to winning the title which is also why he is still unbeaten. This time he has picked the wrong opponent, I am on the path to finishing this story I started my own way and I believe in myself. I go into this fight with no fear in me, I know what I have to do to win and I will.”
“Training with Dillian is different, he trains like a barbarian because he is a champion at heart. During the lockdown, I was out in Portugal, but it was amazing and beneficial for me. Dillian pushed me every day and the training we had was elite. The relentless camp has helped me moving forward and it is maximum violence ahead of my fight with Linus”.
John Harding Jr will be looking to take his record to 9-1-1 with a victory on Sunday and he has not had too many fights to date in what has been a short career so far. I did ask John what the next 12-18 months had in store for himself and he is certainly looking forward to the future.
“These next 12-18 months are going to be vital for me, I am going to be pushing full throttle and of course, it will be maximum violence as always. I am not title hunting; I just want the big fights and see where that takes me”.
With the bout just days away, I asked John for a prediction and his answer was simple.
“I am going to stop him, maximum violence! Linus Udofia is tailor-made for me.”
In John’s short career as a professional, he has never shied away from a challenge and his upcoming fight proves that. He has the full backing from his mentor Dillian Whyte and will be looking to repay that faith on Sunday.
In recent weeks, he has been vocal on his rise through the boxing ranks after his trouble with the law when he was younger. He wants to get the message across to teenagers and young adults that there is more to life than crime and boxing is a great way to focus that built up energy. I will be catching up with John after his fight to hear more about his journey through the justice system which he believes will one day result in a world title.