Updated: Aug 29
Saturday night marks the return to the ring of Carstairs native Willy Hutchinson 11-0 (7 KOs), who takes part in his first contest since February this year.
It has been a recurring theme when discussing ring returns for fighters, as nearly every one of them has been forced to sit on the sidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hutchinson himself suffered, and had to take off six weeks before he was able to get back into a gym and into training the way he has been used to doing for many years.
“I took about six weeks off because of everything that was going on, but when I was able to get back in the gym, I did, and I have not been out of it since. I have been training really hard, like an animal. And having this first fight back since lockdown has been a long time coming, and I can’t wait to get in the ring on Saturday.”
The first fight back for Hutchinson was supposed to be against former Commonwealth super-middleweight champion Luke Blackledge 26-9 (9 KOs); however, due to injury, Luke pulled out of the fight around two weeks ago. This would have been the step that many have been calling for, with Blackledge having shared the ring with the likes of Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding. Though even though at the time of speaking to Hutchinson there was no opponent confirmed, he was quite adamant that he is going to put on a performance no matter who gets put in front of him.
“To be honest, I could not care less about not getting to fight Luke. I am ready to fight and willing to fight anyone. After this fight, I am going to be looking for titles. That's my goal: to start getting these big fights.”
Over the past month, we have seen some highly competitive contests on both the Matchroom & Queensbury shows, which is something that the majority have welcomed, with fights taking place that may not have necessarily taken place for another year or so. Not only has this led to the fighters getting paid relatively well, it has also produced some crowd-pleasing bouts, which has left fighters like Willy Hutchinson chomping at the bit to be involved.
“I think that these fights should be happening. All the best fighters at the weights should be fighting each other, otherwise, what are you in the sport in for. I would love to be involved in these type of fights and I think that I am ready for them now.”
When Hutchinson steps in the ring on Saturday it will be the last time in his professional career that he will be fighting at light heavyweight, having campaigned mainly in the division for the most of his career. A move to the super middleweight division will see the potential for the making of some huge domestic fights.
Since making the move to the Ingle Gym in Sheffield, Hutchinson has since relocated to the city on a permanent basis. Buying a house in the area with his wife has meant making the daily commute to and from the gym that much easier. It is something that he believes has really helped him get embedded into a gym which includes, amongst others, distinguished fighters such as Kell Brook, Kid Galahad, Liam Willams and Robbie Davis Jr.
“Dom and I (Dominic Ingle) have a really good relationship. It’s not just the things he does in the gym but it’s the things he does outside of the gym, the things people don't really see that make such a huge difference to me and my career. It’s a good laugh in the gym but when the hard work comes we all have to work really hard.
“Iron sharpens iron in that gym, even when we just want to go for a run, none of us wants to lose and so we are all racing each other. Dom only lets us body spar because if we openly sparred then we would be trying hurt each other because we all want to win, all of the time. I have had the pleasure of sparring the lads at the gym and every day I am learning something new.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, it is evident that with no opponent announced we cannot expect Hutchinson to be presented with too much of a test; however having not fought since February, it is going to be a great opportunity for him to once again show the fans why he is being touted as a hot prospect; and with the fact that he has dropped down to super middleweight, the next twelve months become very intriguing, to see whether Frank Warren and his matchmaking team will present a Hutchinson with a 50/50 fight. He claims that he is ready for a title now, even without having that step up in opposition.
“If I was offered a shot at the British title tomorrow, I would take it in a heartbeat. I genuinely believe I am ready for that level now and come Saturday I am going to annihilate whoever they put in front of me and show everyone that I am ready.”
Whilst confidence within Willy Hutchinson is certainly flying high, he is yet to face an opponent with a winning record which will still leave many unanswered questions as to whether he really is ready or not. One can only hope that before the year is out his team are able to secure him a much tougher test, which based on his performances so far, will show us how good he is really is and how far can he really go.