Updated: May 30, 2020
At the age of 35, Phillip Bowes is now one of the elder statesmen within the super-lightweight division. ESBR caught up with ‘Quicksilver’ last week to discuss the current situation, his last year, and future plans.
“I’m ticking over as best I can, you can’t do sparring or anything like that. But you can maintain your bodyweight exercises, weights if you have them at home, running and things like that. You’ve got to have a strong mind and just keep going because everyone’s in the same situation so everyone is in the same boat. You’ve got to make good of a bad situation. I can adapt and I’m just rolling with the times.”
Bowes is still unsure as to when he will be fighting next and is taking it month by month. Despite a willingness to fight, he does have some reservations about fighting straight away and the problems that may arise.
“It’s a tricky one because you still need sparring and you need pads though. I suppose you could fight but it wouldn’t be the best of your ability. I would fight if I had to but would I be at my best? I doubt it. I hold a title, going for another one. You want to make sure that you are the peak of fitness and of your ability.”
When his March fight with Akeem Ennis-Brown was postponed, it signified Bowes’ third cancellation in 12 months. It is important to keep active, but it was his other ventures, such as his boxing academy, that have helped to keep him focused and disciplined while training.
“Its been very frustrating but I’ve got a lot of things going on outside of boxing, my academy and stuff like that. That’s just kind of taken my time up so I haven’t been as frustrated as I should have been as I’ve got other things. I suppose its good that I’ve got a focus and I’ve been training every single time for a fight. It's not like I’ve been relaxing, I have been training”.
The rivalry between the two was well-publicized, with a war of words breaking out on social media and interviews alike. However, the last three months have given Bowes time to reflect on not just his boxing career but life also whilst re-evaluating whether the hatred was worth it.
“One thing that I have definitely come to realise is that bad blood isn’t something that needs to happen, the fight will happen regardless. People are dying, there’s more to life than having bad blood with someone over a boxing match. Especially when people are dying just for the sake of it at the moment with this disease. It's more a case of being the better man on the day or night than having animosity to anyone and take things personally.”
He hopes that Ennis-Brown has also had a change of mindset during this downtime to reflect and improve on himself.
“If he hasn’t (changed), then he’s silly. Anyone in this kind of situation who feels the same when they go back to normality has wasted two or three months. You have to change your assessment of people and life after this.
What have you been doing. I would think he is a sensible guy and he would analyse things differently.”
Despite not being able to formally train, the hunger and drive to succeed is clearly still present. In Bowes’ mind, the result will not be different when the two finally get into the ring.
“When you put everything into perspective, is what you are trying to achieve really worth it when you see people dying? For me, I will be better than him, and I will retain my title. The motivation hasn’t changed, just the feelings towards him. There Is more to life than boxing and having bad blood towards people. Everyone had a plan but now five months of our life have been eradicated. I just want to take it one step at a time. We are in control of nothing.”
As previously mentioned, Phillip’s boxing academy has given him some of the drive during one of the toughest years of his boxing career. It has now been open over a year and plays a vitally important role in the community.
Recently they have had to adapt their way of teaching in line with the current global situation, to ensure that the students do not miss out.
“It’s a great thing giving other people and other kids motivation and hope, some have come to the academy low on confidence. We are having reports from them, their parents and teachers that they are feeling much better and I think it’s a great thing. We do a zoom class every single week. So fifteen to twenty people tune into them religiously every Thursday at the moment anyway. I speak to them on a daily basis to make sure they are alright.
"It's only the physical contact they are missing but they have all the moves and are keeping their mind refreshed with the combinations.”
The connection between Phillip and his hometown of Leytonstone is clearly present and it was this gratitude that made him want to use his platform for good.
“It’s a case of giving back because I’m the first commonwealth champion from my area and giving back to the community. I didn’t have a boxing club in my area at all when I was a child so I thought it would be a great thing to do. A lot of people do well in life and they just forget where they come from. I can't do that. It's great that I have the support and now I have to give back”.
Now on a five-fight win streak, he credits his trip to Ukraine for reigniting his career and giving him newfound motivation and ideas.
“The last defeat I had was definitely a controversial decision, but I didn’t get the decision and now I know how to fight better. Going to Ukraine definitely changed my outlook on life and boxing and seeing how they train over there and I now take boxing more seriously. They train so much harder and they have a more robust regime”.
Coming off the back of an impressive victory over young Matchroom prospect Tom Farrell, whose only previous loss came at the hands of Ohara Davies. It also gave ‘Quicksilver’ his first opportunity on fighting on prime time television, getting a dominant unanimous decision.
“Tom Farrell has had loads of experience on Sky Sports and TV and that was my first televised experience. I’m at the age now where the maturity is there and you’ve got to show that you can perform when the time is right. Once you train hard and have a championship mindset everything else comes with that”.
Bowes still has a lot more to give to boxing, with his sights set clearly on the British title and potentially beyond.
“I want more titles, more recognition. I just need to keep going as far as I can and as far as destiny and boxing politics let me. The British title is next and after that, you can go directly to the world level, anything’s possible. One step at a time. I’ll be the oldest British champion in my weight category. I want to create history each time I enter that ring”.