Earlier this year the World Boxing Association mandated that like-known Jerrod Fletcher would be next in line to face their middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
The move was met by derision and instead Golovkin, who was elevated to “super” champion status by the WBA (either because he has made 10 title defences or due to his holding another “world” title, the International Boxing Organization’s belt), fought Fletcher’s more accomplished fellow Australian Daniel Geale. Fletcher, the organization’s No. 2-rated contender, will face talented American Daniel Jacobs for the WBA’s “regular” title on Saturday. [Editor’s note: THE RING and RingTV.com will not recognize the Fletcher-Jacobs winner at the WBA’s titleholder, that distinction still belongs to Golovkin.]
Fletcher (18-1, 10 knockouts) took more than his fair share of criticism from fans and media alike who believed the 30-year-old Australian didn’t deserve the opportunity.
“People are entitled to their own opinion,” Fletcher told RingTV.com before leaving Australia. “I don’t let it worry me to be honest.”
Despite being a heavy underdog (with some bookmakers +350 / 7/2) Fletcher remains confident in his ability to cause an upset when he meets Jacobs.
“I know when I get into the ring I’m capable of beating anyone,” said Fletcher. “I’m just looking forward to taking my chance and showing the world what I have.
“Jacobs is a talented boxer and his record would suggest he has some real power. But apart from Pirog, he hasn’t really fought anyone close to the top.”
Along with Jacobs-Fletcher, the Showtime-televised event from the the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is headlined by RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia versus Rod Salka in a 10-round non-title bout, and supported by Lamont Peterson against Edgar Santana. The three-fight broadcast begins at 9.00 p.m. ET/PT.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on the Jacobs fight?
Jerrod Fletcher – I’m truly excited for this fight. Fighting for a genuine world title is the dream for many boxers, but it’s been my goal from the very start. We’ve been very close over the last 12 months but had a number of opponents pull out, so to be honest it doesn’t really worry me who’s in the other corner. But I know when I get into the ring I’m capable of beating anyone, I’m just looking forward to taking my chance and showing the world what I have. Being on a big U.S. show increases the exposure and will get my name out there on the international stage.
AW – When you look at Jacobs, what do you think of him as a fighter?
JF – Jacobs is a talented boxer and his record would suggest he has some real power. You don’t notch up 27 wins or 24 KOs without ability. But apart from (Dmitry) Pirog, he hasn’t really fought anyone close to the top. He sparred over here in Australia late last year and that gave us an idea where he is at. It’s a great fight for me and I can’t wait.
AW – You were made Gennady Golovkin’s WBA mandatory challenger a few months ago. That move was met with derision on social media by fans and media alike. How do you answer those critics?
JF – People are entitled to their own opinion. I don’t let it worry me to be honest. It’s the second time that Golovkin’s camp have avoided the fight, as has (Martin) Murray, as has (Dmitry) Chudinov. That in itself says something. The real boxing fans know that.
AW – Earlier this year you scored arguably the biggest win of your professional career, outpointing European champion Max Bursak in Monte Carlo. Can you tell us about that fight?
JF – Max Bursak is a tough boxer that always comes to fight. Having spent eight weeks preparing for Martin Murray we had limited time to prepare for Max, which was far from ideal. My team came up with a fight plan that was effective and we felt that the fight went well. We had prepared for Max to be strong and dominating but I was really pleased that I was able to match him for strength, meaning that I could control the pace of the fight. We were really pleased with the fight, the outcome and the exposure. I’m confident given equal conditions that I’ll beat anyone put in front of me and did exactly that with Bursak. Golden Gloves (the promoter of the event) were fantastic to us from start to finish and I’d like to thank them for the opportunity, especially considering Murray pulled out for whatever reason.
AW – The lone blemish on your record is against Billy Joe Saunders. Looking back what would you say of that fight?
JF – There are a lot of things that go into making every fight successful. Looking back we still believe that the stoppage came too early, but that’s all in the past. Saunders was the better man on the night and we moved on pretty quickly. A loss is just a loss, as long as you learn and move on. My team weren’t happy with a number of things from that fight, but as a boxer I just move onto the next fight and learn what I can.
AW – You say you were you able to learn from the Saunders fight. What were those things?
JF – There were a lot of little “one percenters” that just didn’t add up in the lead-up to that fight. Both myself and my team have learned from the whole experience and we’ve moved forward pretty quickly. It’s boxing, a loss at some point is pretty inevitable, it’s how you mentally cope with that and move on. I’m mentally stronger now, and have made a few technical changes. I was upset at the time with the loss, but now it fuels me to become better every day.
AW – Do you feel that the Bursak win puts you back to where you were before the Saunders loss?
JF – I’d say it probably puts me ahead of where I was at that point. I’m now WBA No. 2 and only looking to the future. I’ve had six wins since “BJS” and pretty happy with how I’ve learnt from the defeat and moved forwards. I’m a better boxer now than I was then and well ahead of where I was in September 2012 without doubt.
AW – What was your youth growing up in Australia like?
JF – I was and still am blessed to have the most supportive family imaginable. My dad, Dave, trained me from an early age and for that I’ll always be thankful. Sure things were tough at times, but I think that’s the same for all families. But my brothers and I wanted for nothing, my dad worked hard to ensure that we were all brought up the right way and brought up knowing what’s right. Myself and my two brothers were taught to box by our dad and he was our trainer right throughout our amateur days.
With three brothers only separated by less than three years between us, there were plenty of back yard scraps and we grew up understanding how to fight and how to box.
We moved to Hervey Bay, north of Brisbane, when I was very young and it’s been home ever since. It’s a small community where everyone knows each other, so there was no getting away with anything. The weather was always beautiful and hot and I learned to love training and boxing. Dad was our trainer and he used to drive me and my brothers around the country to fights. Given the size of Australia it certainly made for some very long road trips. Having had good success as a young amateur I then moved to the AIS where I lived for a number of years and developed further as part of the boxing program, cumulating in the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2008 Olympics.
AW – How did you become interested in boxing?
JF – I was born into it with Dad. Dad trained me and my two brothers from a very early age. Boxing is in me, it’s all I’ve ever known and been interested in.
AW – You were a very good amateur. Could you tell us what titles tournaments you won and also what your final record was?
JF – I was 152-28. I won six Australian titles, went to two world amateur championships, the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2008 Olympic Games. I’m a proud Australian, so winning the Aussie titles was obviously a real high point. Going to the 2008 Olympic Games was also a real highlight, getting to represent my country and be appointed team captain at the highest level was pretty special and a real honour. But the pinnacle of my amateur career had to be winning the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Getting to stand atop the podium as a champion was amazing, especially knowing the quality of opposition that I’d beaten. I beat Craig McEwan, James DeGale and Adonis Stevenson to win the gold and I proved to the world that I belonged at the top of the amateur scene at the time.
AW – What are your thoughts on the middleweight division and the current champions? Are you targeting anyone?
JF – It’s a pretty interesting and deep division at the moment. I love boxing and love watching the other fights, but in all honesty I’ll fight anyone. I have a very good team around me and have full trust in them. I know if I train as hard as I do then when the time comes I will beat anyone in the division. My trainer Steve Deller and manager Adam Wilcock work on my fights and specific fight plans.
Of the current champions, “GGG” must be the standout at the moment. He is an excellent boxer with a KO punch. (Peter) Quillin and (Sam) Soliman are both title holders and bring different traits to the table. Quillin is pretty much untested at the moment but his record suggests he’s a real puncher. Everyone knows what Soliman brings, he’s fit and hard, pressuring every minute. Sam is the example to every young boxer out there and like most of Australia, I thought it was great to see him win the IBF title. Geale also belongs at the top. Cotto’s performance against an aged Martinez was a surprise to many and Canelo (Alvarez) moving up to middleweight will also cause a stir in the division. Exciting division to be involved in at the moment.
AW – Away from boxing what do you enjoy doing with your time?
JF – I have a beautiful wife, Krista, and we are blessed with two amazing children. They keep me busy whenever I’m not training and certainly keep me entertained. Ensuring they are brought up the right way and learn to appreciate life is everything both Krista and I work towards. Having such a supportive family unit makes all the difference in this sport.
I have a fantastic long-term sponsor in Brian Webb from CNW Electrical who has been with me for my whole professional career, meaning that when I’m not concentrating on training I have the means to spend every moment with my family. Between my family, my team, my gym-mates, sponsors and supporters I’m in a very fortunate position and I’d like to take the chance to thank everyone publicly for the part they play in my boxing career. When I win a world title it will be for them and for everyone to enjoy.
AW – Do you have a message for Daniel Jacobs ahead of your upcoming fight?
JF – No message. I’ll just look after myself and my fight plan. I’m not one for trash talking.