Rejuvenated OPBF light heavyweight champion ‘Diamond’ Dale Westerman, 13-5 (6), credits changes to his diet and training regime as the key factors for his late career resurgence.
‘Diamond’ Dale Westerman
“I’m eating cleaner food and I’ve adopted a different style now,” Westerman told Doghouse Boxing on Thursday. “I have a bit more of a crouched, bobbing and weaving style. If you’re taller and you can’t be quick enough to hit me you’re going to struggle with that, because I’m going to be on their ass before they know it. I’m loaded like a spring and ready to go forward and make them pay should they miss.”
The major difference, according to Westerman, is that his core fitness is consistently at a higher level than it has ever been in the past.
“I’ve got a new fitness regime and a new confidence and my skills are up and I’m doing well,” said Westerman.
“I’m training twice a day as opposed to once a day now. Good sessions, but smart sessions. Stuff like cross training in the mornings combined with weight training and a little bit more running, then I do my boxing, skill work and sparring in the afternoon. I’m heaps fitter as a result. I’ve got a high level of fitness all year round now as opposed to just at fight time.”
The 35-year-old former kickboxer was last seen in action on the undercard of the Robbie Peden versus Nate Campbell rematch in Melbourne on February 23. His opponent Justin Clements was widely regarded as the favourite going in to the fight, but Westerman evidently hadn’t read the script.
After dropping and almost stopping Clements in the first round, Westerman went on to score a near shutout victory over twelve stanzas.
“I was always confident of beating him, as you are when you get in the ring with anybody,” said Westerman, who works at Harpers Gym in Brighton as a personal trainer. “I had been training real well and my style has changed of late and it’s for the better. When I was kickboxing we couldn’t adapt to a style that would detract from what we were doing at the time, so we couldn’t take on too many boxing skills in the form of stance.
“I was really confident going in to that fight and I prepared for a twelve rounder. With experienced guys you don’t know how they’re going to be… I’ve developed good power and they can get a bit shy if I catch them, which is what happened. I caught him in the first round and he was just a little shy of really committing because he didn’t have the speed to hit me. I was getting in under his punches and making him pay.”
Westerman won the vacant OPBF title last October with a second round knockout of New Zealander Colin Hunia in China. Yes, that’s right, China. Xichang Prefectural Arena, Chengdu, Sichuan Province to be exact. Not exactly Madison Square Garden or Mandalay Bay, but according to Westerman the atmosphere was as electric as any big fight venue.
“It was a wonderful experience,” he said. “There were four or five thousand Chinese people there at a local stadium and they loved it. They were very similar to an Australian crowd. They appreciate the skill, they appreciate a knockdown and they appreciate when a guy gets back up. They are very respectful of Western boxing because they don’t have a lot of it there. It went down really well, actually.”
Westerman’s Oriental tour continues when he defends his OPBF title against on two-time world title challenger Yoshinori Nishizawa in Tokyo, Japan on June 21. But first he may take a tune-up bout in May, again in China, on another Liu Gang promoted card.
“I’ll give you a scoop,” said Westerman. “They want me back there on May 17 to fight a Thai guy as a warm up for Japan. I don’t know his name but apparently he’s okay. We don’t want to have two title fights in a row, we want to have a warm-up fight and continue the development.”
Nishizawa’s two world title challenges came against former WBA champion Anthony Mundine and current WBC champion Markus Beyer. Despite his advancing years, Nishizawa was able to put both titleholders on the deck in the second round.
“The two world titles he’s fought for, he’s dropped both of the champions early in the fight,” Westerman said of the Japanese veteran. “So you have to watch him, but make him give you respect. I’ve got to be wary of him but not scared and after a few rounds he’ll start to deteriorate and feel much like Justin Clements did.
“He will feel that he can’t hurt me and he’ll have to box along. If he starts having doubts about his ability to hurt me that will take his focus off what he is supposed to do and I’ve got to go about what I want to do. It’s my job to make them fight the way I want them to fight, very much like Kostya Tszyu does. If they can’t hurt me, mate they’re in trouble.”
With a few defences of his OPBF title Westerman is hoping to crack the world top ten and parlay his recent momentum into a world title shot.
“My short term goal is to make the world top ten,” said Westerman. “And my long term goal is obviously to fight for a world championship. And that is quite possible when you get into the top 10-15 because when the champion wants to make a voluntary defence to get a payday they always take lesser known names from say 8-15, which is well within the rules… anything is possible.”
But if Westerman could select any opponent to fight it would be another Australian with whom he shares some history and who challenges for a world title next month.
“Probably Paul Briggs,” revealed Westerman when asked who his ideal opponent would be. “If he wins his world championship I’ll rematch him. I beat him once in kickboxing and I reckon he’s got a chip on his shoulder about it. If I came into his sphere I’m not in his picture at all now but if I came into it in the next twelve months then I’m an easy option for him. It’s all about money at the same time so they’d possibly look at me. If they want a defence against a credible Australian opponent in Australia, they wouldn’t have to fly me in so they wouldn’t have to pay as much. So it would be realistic for them.”
For now though Westerman is concentrating on more immediate matters; namely, the possibility of facing an unknown Thai in China next month and his OPBF title defence against Nishizawa in June.
“I’m happy, I’m fit and I’m looking forward to consolidating what I’m doing,” said Westerman. “I’m in a position to do it now that I wasn’t in before. Now I’m going to give it a red hot go and it’s going well for me.”
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