By Fraser Cox
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Lance Cooksey, a Welsh professional boxer from Rhoose, a small village not far from Cardiff. Having made his professional debut at the age of twenty-seven, with a win over fellow Brit, Michael Mooney, Cooksey has not put a foot wrong since that point. He is focused on sustaining this momentum, with his mind clearly set on winning titles.
Just before we were cruelly forced into lockdown by COVID-19, Lance Cooksey was able to extend his emphatic unbeaten run to 12(2)-0, with a convincing PTS victory over Englishman, Daryl Pearce, on 14th March.
“It was a good fight. There was a last-minute change of opponent; it was originally going to be my first eight-rounder and a big step-up in opponent. I was meant to be fighting an African fighter, Anama Dotse. He was coming in with a 90 percent knockout ratio, so quite a puncher. However, due to the Coronavirus, he couldn’t fly into the country.
Lockdown began the following week, so I was lucky to fight to be honest. Huge respect for Pearce, who gave it everything and came to win. He’s a tough kid and took so many big shots. In the second round, I caught him on top of his head with a right hand and felt a bit of pain. After the fight, it was swollen, and ended up being a tendon issue. But, considering the circumstances, there was time for it to heal and recover fully. Everyone enjoyed the fight and it was definitely a crowd-pleaser. In the end, it turned out to be one of the last shows before lockdown.”
I literally found out twenty-four hours before the fight that I wasn’t going to fight Dotse. Tony Borg rang me and said, “Don’t worry about your weight”. Then, on the morning of the fight, there was a change of opponent again. There is no way you can prepare for any fighter at such short notice. So, for me, it was a chance to prove that I’m adaptable. Whoever they put me in with, regardless of their record, I’m here to win and that’s what I did.”
With the lockdown restrictions firmly in place, and the sporting world on hold, Cooksey remained focused and grasped the opportunity to continue evolving as an athlete.
“To be honest I’ve quite enjoyed lockdown, as I’ve been able to adapt my training. I enjoy running and road biking anyway, but I’ve started doing it more. I rode 120km last week! Three weeks ago, I just woke up and thought: I want to run a marathon. I’m naturally fit, and so, mentally, I wanted to push my body to a limit that I haven’t been able to take it to since boxing. It was hard, but I embraced the challenge. Of course, financially it’s been a very tough period for everyone, but I count myself as one of the lucky ones. I work full-time, so I’ve been able to work from home. I feel for the boxers who don’t have a job and have struggled.”
Thanks to Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions show on 7th July, boxing in Britain was able to get back underway. Cooksey, who thinks he’ll be ready to jump back into the ring towards the end of August, feels unfazed at the prospect of fighting behind closed doors.
“If someone offered me to fight at the end of August, I’d be ready. I’ve kept my weight down and I haven’t stopped training. I don’t think the changes will affect my preparations, in terms of when, where and how often I train. The biggest difference will be the testing in the lead up to the fight and the fight night itself. It might give the smaller fighters a slight advantage, who are used to fighting in smaller halls. Without spectators, it gives the fans a different insight into the sport as they can hear the coaches giving their fighters words of advice, that you ordinarily wouldn’t hear. I thought Frank Warren’s show went well and they will only get better as promoters learn how they can be run best.”
Looking back on his amateur career and eventual rise into the professional ranks, Cooksey believes that his extended amateur background has been hugely advantageous, in enabling him to learn the key boxing fundamentals and gain valuable experience along the way.