Tony Dodson - Heart Of A Warrior - Part Two

Coming off the back of the loss to Tony Quigley, Dodson set his sights on another Liverpudlian in the shape of Paul Smith. Before that was to happen, Smith, himself had to fight Quigley at the Echo Arena, with Dodson watching on.

“Frank Warren gave me tickets to watch Smith against Quigley, but do you know where I had to sit? Right at the back of the arena, which pissed me off. I left after the first round, I didn’t stay and watch it. I thought you cheeky bastards, you’ve got a full spread on me in the program, named me everywhere and then stick me in the rafters, are you taking the piss? So, I left and watched it on the telly, I thought it was close, but I might have swayed for Quigley. I thought I was a better fighter than Paul. I mean, like even now that might sound bitter, but technically through the spars, we had over the years, I thought I was better. The next day I got on the phone to Paul and got the fight.”

A lot of things were said before the fight, despite the fact there was a lot of respect between the pair. There was no doubt though, that this helped to sell the fight and made it an entertaining spectacle.

“We're still friends and we were friends then, we trained together, not in the same club just crossing paths. We always respected each other. When he boxed Quigley, I got on the phone, like a dickhead, and asked if he was gonna give me a shot this time. It just went from there and escalated, I said some things and so did he. I didn’t want to disrespect him, I love him and his family, I went about it the wrong way, but I got the fight.”

Ring rust has become a large debate within boxing and combat sports, with many people analyzing the impacts it can have. Between the Quigley and Smith fight, Tony had been out of the ring a year, and he attributes part of the loss to that.

“The way I look at it is with Salah and the form he’s been in for Liverpool. Put them on a bench for 12 months and is he going to be the same player? Would you bring them back in the Champions League Final? Probably not. That’s what it was like for me, it’d been over 12 months since id stepped in the ring.”

Once again, Dodson got the opportunity to avenge a loss, when in 2013 he faced Smith for the second time. This time the bout did not go the distance, although the stoppage may have been early.

“Paul is a very smart fighter; he can fight on the back foot and counterpunch and because I was so aggressive, I played right into his hands. I don’t think the fight should have been stopped at all. He only caught me with one shot, I staggered forward, and the referee jumped in. I got dropped in the second, got up, and won the round! He catches me with one shot, and you don’t give me the benefit of the doubt in a fucking British title fight? I was still defending myself, let me go out on my shield!”

In between the two Smith fights he had the opportunity to feature on Prizefighter. A Matchroom tournament concept all on one night, with a £32,000 prize fund for the winner. Although he first turned matchmaker, helping a young Rocky Fielding to get on the show he would later go onto win.

“I got offered it at middleweight, but I couldn’t have made the weight limit. I and Rocky Fielding were training together, and he came with me to the Olympia for the weigh-in of Crolla and Watson. At this point loads of fighters had pulled out of it and they asked me if Rocky would fancy it. At this point, he’d only had a handful of fights, and he said it was too soon for him. I persuaded him and told him he was good enough etc and he ended up winning it. In a way, if he’d not come with me that day, he may not have made the waves he has, that was his opportunity.”

‘The Warrior’ eventually entered Prizefighter at the light-heavyweight limit, in an attempt to relaunch his career. Despite reaching the final after two dominant victories over Michal Banbula and Menay Edwards, he would not get the chance to fight for the prize fund due to a nasty cut.

“The way that the structure to the money was paid out, I genuinely should have got the 16 grand because I got to the final. Then the stand-in comes in, gets blasted in a fight I believe I would have won and got the money for it. I come out with two career-threatening injuries, beating two good fighters. I didn’t have it east, but my cuts were just too bad, and the doctor pulled me out.”

This was another case of awful luck, taking away an opportunity for Dodson, which seemed to be the unfortunate story of his career. Not only this, but he got the opportunity on two separate occasions to fight for a world title, only for external factors to prevent him.

“I get a call a week later asking if I wanted to fight Robert Stieglitz for the WBO super-middleweight title in 10 days. How the fuck can I do that with huge cuts under my eyes and I’m overweight. That was my opportunity again to fight for a world title. I also got a call to fight Cristian Sanavia, who was the WBC Champion at the time as well. I had to do a warmup six-rounder against Nick Okoth, I just needed a win because I’d been inactive. Then once again, I got cut in the second round, needing 17 stitches across my eye, you could actually see the skull so there was no WBC title shot. That was the story of my career.”

Dodson did also play a part in the future career of Tony Bellew and a former ABC rival. When he turned matchmaker once again, by connecting ‘The Bomber’ with David Haye before the two faced off in two grudge matches.

“David was making a comeback and hadn’t done any sparring; I was fighting on the undercard of his show, so I went to help him out because I’d been mates with him since we were kids. We were supposed to fight in the 1996 NABC finals, but he wouldn’t fight me, and we were on the England camps together. I put a post up about sparring with him and Bellew called me asking If I was with Haye and we were in the car, so I put him on loudspeaker.