|Kickett Keen for St Clair’s Scalp
Interview by Anthony Cocks, Site Editor (June 21, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
At just 21 years of age the Australian boxing fraternity has already picked William Kickett to become something special. World renowned trainer Johnny Lewis has labelled Kickett “Australia’s next legitimate world champion”, while others are already likening his natural, fluid style to that of another Aboriginal great, Lionel Rose.
For most people that would be a big burden to bear, but Kickett takes it all in his stride.
“I don’t really listen to it that much,” admits Kickett, 10-0 (5). “I mean it’s good, but I don’t really let it get to me.”
The Perth native has been a revelation since turning pro last year, fighting eight times in 2007 and closing out the year with a dominant eight round win over two-time world title challenger Tommy Browne on the undercard of Danny Green’s world title winning effort against Stipe Drews in December.
On Tuesday night Kickett takes another major step up in class when he faces former IBF super featherweight titlist Gairy St Clair, 40-6-2 (17), in the main support bout to Jeff Fenech vs Azumah Nelson III at Vodafone Arena in Melbourne. The clash promises to be the fight of the night not only because it pits the young lion against the old bull, but also because of the history between St Clair and Kickett’s trainer Craig Christian.
“I know Gairy back to front,” says Christian, who was St Clair’s one time trainer. “I’ve spoken to William about a few things. I know the way Gairy fights, I know what he’s all about. I’ve relayed a few things to Williams but whether I’ve told him or not, William doesn’t need it mate. His speed and reflexes and power will be enough.
“I expect William to do what Amir Khan did to him.”
For his part, Kickett remains nonplussed by St Clair and is more focused on his own performance than the bag of tricks the former titleholder brings to the table.
“I think that Gairy’s just going to keep coming forward, boxing like he does,” says Kickett. “But I know that he won’t be able to hurt me or anything like that. He’s going to keep coming and I’ve just gotta be smarter than him.
“Craig has told me a few things about Gairy. We’ve just been working on it in the gym and we’ll see if they work on Tuesday.”
Kickett’s career hit a roadblock earlier this year when the ‘Yamatji Warrior’ slipped on wet concrete and put his hand through a window while celebrating his birthday with friends, severing a major artery and several veins in his right hand. The injury required 67 stitches to repair and there were serious concerns about the future of his boxing career.
“It’s fully healed, it’s good,“ says Kickett, who made a successful return to the ring just four months after the accident. “I couldn’t close my hand before, but it’s perfect now.”
So confident is Christian in his fighter’s ability that he has already drafted a list of potential opponents should Kickett be successful against St Clair on Tuesday night and it doesn’t matter if they campaign at 130 or 135 pounds.
“After this we’ve got our hit list,” reveals Christian. “Billy Dib, Elomar and Lenny Zappa [Leonardo Zappavigna]. Dib reckons he’s fighting for the IBO world title and it’s a vacant title, so why not fight us? The winner of this match out of Gairy and William should fight Dib for the vacant title.”
Under the tutelage of Christian, Kickett has been able to refine his skills with regular sparring against WBA featherweight champion Chris John and current Commonwealth featherweight champion Jackson Asiku. Kickett believes that the experience he has gained from these spirited sessions has been instrumental in allowing him to lift to another level.
“It’s very good,” says Kickett. “I learn a lot of Chris and Jackson; just how it all is, what it takes to become a world champion, that sort of thing. You’ve got to be focused and Chris has shown me how to do that.”
These gym wars have also increased Christian’s confidence in matching Kickett with anyone in or around his weight.
“Willie trains with a bloke who has defended his featherweight title nine times,” he explains. “He spars him, he goes toe-to-toe with him, he spars Jackson Asiku, the Commonwealth champion. I wouldn’t be afraid to put William in with anyone.”
Big call perhaps, but watching Kickett move gracefully around the ring, slipping punches with ease and seamlessly sliding from offence to defence and back again, it’s easy to see why there are big wraps on the kid.
Even Christian admits that training him is easy.
“I just get him fit and point out a few things now and again to him,” he says. “He’s a natural fighter mate, he does it all himself.”
It’s no wonder they are already calling him ‘the next Lionel Rose’.
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