Despite suffering a narrow defeat to Kerman Lejarraga on Saturday night, Tyrone Nurse was happy with his performance given the circumstances of the fight.
“I only got five weeks’ notice and shifted probably a stone and a half. I spent no time at all in lockdown training. So that was fresh off ten months out of the ring. Although it is another loss on my record, there are a lot of positives to take from it in my head. I’ve just got to watch it back and I’m pretty sure I’ll watch it and know if I had a full camp and proper training, that I could have beaten him.”
Although we are used to behind closed doors boxing at the minute with Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn both putting on shows with no crowd, this was not the case in Spain.
The Plaza de Toros de Puerto Banus in Marbella, had roughly 1,500 fans spread out around the arena, and the thirty-year-old was pleased there was a small crowd able to watch the action.
“Visually, you could see it looked empty because it is a massive place, but as a fighter when you’re in the ring you’re not looking at the crowd. Somebody is trying to punch my head in so it was nice to be able to hear the crowd and some noise because ultimately in terms of the atmosphere, whether you sold 20’000 tickets or just 2, you can’t differentiate. You can’t tell who is shouting. It was nice to have the atmosphere there, I preferred that to the thought of fighting in an empty arena.”
On paper, Lejarraga has a fierce knockout record, and many would have fancied him to stop Nurse on Saturday, but the Huddersfield man knew this was not going to be the case.
“I’m from Yorkshire, they breed us tough. I know how durable I can be. I know if it gets tough I enjoy it, I like that grit.”
“He’s the type of guy that when you type his name in on YouTube, you get those ridiculous highlight reels and knockouts, so you’ve got to be a bit wary of that punching power.”
Despite the high knockout record and many people seeing him as one of the hardest-hitting light-middleweights in world boxing, Nurse was honest in his assessment of the Spaniard's power.
“If I’m going to be completely honest, I thought Catterall (Jack) hit harder than him.
“Someone asked me after the fight how hard he hit, and I said I think Catterall probably hit harder than him and was stronger than him physically. I was very surprised. Catterall is a lot cleverer with his shots. He’s not as big a puncher but because he’s quicker and smarter that’s why you feel it more.”
Knowing that he could handle whatever Lejarraga was throwing at him, the slick welterweight knew that he could draw the Spaniard into his type of fight.
“After the first round my Dad asked me ‘What’s his power like?’ and I said, ‘There’s not much to be worried about.’ He asked me again after the second, then he told me to sit on the ropes for a bit so in the third round that’s what I did.
“He did what we expected him to do, he unloaded some big shots and a few of them got through, body shots and the like. It showed me there was nothing to be worried about power-wise with Lejarraga. That’s always a bonus because at the same time I’m thinking ‘If this guy hits me, I’m not really fussed.’ Not that it makes it any more fun.”
As previously mentioned, the general consensus from fans was that it was a very close fight, with only a round or two in it.
Going into the fight, the former British super-lightweight champion knew he would be up against it, fighting a Spanish fighter in his home country.
Ultimately, Lejarraga won by unanimous decision, with the scores later coming out as 100-90, 100-90 and 98-92 all in favour of the home fighter. Nurse felt like these scorecards were far from the reality of the fight.
“The scorecards were ridiculous."
“Before we went to the airport, we were in the same hotel as the judges and the referee, and we asked one of the judges how he scored it, and he said he had Kerman (Lejarraga) by two. So when I saw the scorecards, I was completely astonished. Don’t be ashamed if you’re going to have someone’s pants down, just do it and stick with it. Don’t lie about it.”
Nurse admits he would have been disheartened, had it not have happened to him before.
“I probably would have been disheartened by it if it hadn’t of happened before, but it happened when I fought in Australia, it was the same situation.
“Going abroad, you kind of know it can happen. I just took it on the chin and I’ll take the positives from it, more than the negatives. The negatives are that I got another loss, and on the scorecards, it looks like it was easy, but anyone who follows boxing and watches boxing will know that it was a very different story.”
Saturday’s fight was at 154 lbs, the weight division above what Nurse has been fighting at recently. Although he felt he performed well and it was a close fight, the Yorkshire man believes his future still lies at 147 lbs.
“I’ll definitely be fighting at welterweight again."
“It was nice to get out there and fight, but if they had have said it’s at welterweight I wouldn’t have been able to do it, it’s only because it was at eleven stone I knew I could shift the weight quickly.”
After 10 months out of the ring and having not trained at all for five months, Nurse didn’t think he’d be fighting again until the New Year.
“I’m not the fighter that you call up as an easy dig for your kid am I, so I’m never going to be that guy getting the shot in Eddie’s back garden or against one of Frank Warren’s boys, so if I’m going, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything until next year.
“Going off the fact that Lejarraga couldn’t knock me out on a five-week camp after ten months out the ring and a five-month bender, I don’t think that stands me in good stead as being called on for an opponent, to be honest.”
Now that it looks like boxing is here to stay, whether that be another few months behind closed doors or fighting in front of small crowds in different countries, Nurse wants his next fight to come with good notice, so he can get in better condition.
“If I’m to fight again this year, I’d like decent notice. It depends who it’s against as well. Now the gyms are open, I’ll get back in the gym and train with all the lads. It’s a bit different than it was before because there was nobody to train with, just smashing a bag on my own, bored. So I think I’ll stick it out, and keep going to the gym and use this fight as a bit of confidence, keep motivated and keep at it see what comes.”
Looking at the record of Tyrone Nurse, he has five defeats in his last seven fights. On paper, some fans might think he is on the decline, but the Huddersfield man firmly believes this is not the case.
“If I’m going, to be honest, I’ve been on a pretty unlucky run. I lost to Catterall fair and square, then went to Australia, and I never lost that fight. The second Liam Taylor fight was close, but again that was on 4 weeks’ notice. Then I boxed Essuman, I don’t think I lost that either. One of his coaches was saying, ‘You know what it’s like, you’ve got to knock them out in their back garden to win’. You don’t say those things, do you?
The commentary even had me winning and that’s his own area of Nottingham, but I never thought I lost that fight.
“So I think I’ve been unlucky with those three after the Catterall fight, then I got a couple of wins on those small hall shows, then this came up. People probably looked at it and thought I’m past it and a bit over the hill now, but obviously Saturday proves that isn’t the case at all.”
With the current situation, we are in with boxing, fans are wanting to see a lot more 50/50 fights. Nurse thinks this is a good thing and believes this could play into his hands if he’s given the opportunity.
“If your coach or manager is in the know, and they know boxing, they’re going to find out that I’m not an easy fight at all, it’s as simple as that. But someone’s got to take a chance at some point haven’t they? With the way boxing is at the moment the fights are being a lot more evenly matched because they have to be. So I’m keeping my hopes up and I’ll see what comes I guess.”