Esham Pickering – where from here? - Boxing Interview
Interview by Rhino O’Neill (Jan 28, 2008) Doghouse Boxing        
It’s six days since the epic 9th round KO victory over Shaun Hughes and I caught up with the affable Esham Pickering at a small friendly café in his hometown of Newark in the East Midlands.

‘I’m feeling good,’ proclaimed the Ingle groomed stylist who now trains under the guidance of Carl Greaves in his own town. “I’m just glad I got the job done the other night, I’ve heard people using the word ‘shot’ many times but I honestly believe I have not reached my peak yet. I want another defence of my British super-
bantamweight title, then I can claim the belt as my own providing I win, then hopefully another trip back to European Title territory and maybe another world title tilt providing my promoter Mick Hennessy can sort it out for me. I’m very happy with Mick and I have another 18 months left on my contract with him. I feel that I have another 4 or 5 years left in top class boxing.”

We spoke about the spectacle that Sky viewers witnessed last Friday. “Sky want more of that stuff,” Esham said. “They are interested because the public want good fights and that is what I seem to be in nowadays, perhaps a contender for fight of the year already.”

When I mentioned it was only January, Esham smiled.

“But I think the fans will remember that one, Hughes seems to be a bit of a bogeyman for me and I hope he goes onto better things, he has a lot of heart.”

The 9th round KO of the brave but limited Hughes was not a victory that will
rock the boxing world, but as well as providing the Sky Sports subscriber with quality entertainment it also helped paint over the cracks of doubt and self belief that had started to appear in Pickering’s head. It’s well documented that there were some personal issues that influenced his lacklustre performance that resulted in the points loss to Hughes at the Nottingham Arena late last year over 8 rounds. I made the mistake of questioning Pickering’s fitness that night as the non-punching Hughes had him swaying like a sapling in a force 9 gale.

“Listen,” said the champion, “I always go into the ring fully prepared physically, but if as a boxer you are not fully prepared mentally then this can seriously affect your game, and that night I’m afraid it did.” Now that I had him on the back foot I thought I would ask him why he had such a poor and claret filled first two rounds at Burton-on-Trent last Friday. “I’m not sure,” Pickering replied, “I’m a smart sharp boxer, but it was not there initially, he caught me with a few shots but I was never buzzed. As for the blood, my nose bleeds if someone looks at it, it’s always been a problem, my top lip too was still recovering from five stitches from the first Hughes fight. I was prepared for the fight but perhaps I needed a bit of adversity to get me going, a bit of a kick start I guess. I need to claim the Lonsdale belt as my own and move on. The English champ Munroe is scheduled to fight Kiko Martinez for the EBU title in March, the rest of the ranked British Super-bantamweights are a bit green apart from Marc Callaghan but he has just lost to myself and Munroe so he is likely to fight Sean Hughes I feel, perhaps for the English title, and that leaves Danny Wallace 11-4 of Leeds as a potential British title opponent for myself in April 2008, yes Wallace, that might be the next fight, then I can move on and up.”

Esham spoke with feeling about his admiration for Brendan Ingle and all at the Winkobank. “I loved the set up there,” he said. “I owe a lot to Brendan, not just for my boxing but he taught me a lot in general, a lot about life, and I’m grateful to him for that. But down here is my home now, nearer my family and friends and its working out nicely. Carl (Greaves) pushes me in training and I’m always physically prepared, for all of my opponents.”

Both of us then looked and purred at the world ratings in the super-bantamweight division. Some huge hitters in there we agreed, a very, very tough division, Vasquez, Marquez, Caballero and Ponce de Leon, all murderous fighters to say the least. “Molitor is a good boxer too,” said Pickering admiringly, “a lot smarter than people give him credit for, he could still have a big say on the world scene.”

“I know Mick (Hennessy) has a good understanding with the Canadians,” he muttered thoughtfully.

Into the past we then delved, a wry smile across Pickering’s face when I mentioned Mauricio Martinez. I recalled to Esham that show on that night, it was a huge bill, Frank Warren and Sports Network had really pushed the boat out with his purses that night, we had Calzaghe v Woodhall as the bill topper, we had ex-Hamed victim Daniel Alicia being almost decapitated by Brazil’s Acelino Freitas. The Paul Ingle tragedy was that night too, as was Neil Sinclair being brutally stopped by Daniel Santos, despite having Santos down early as well. “I don’t recall too much about the stoppage,” said Esham, “but I was absolutely dead at the weight, so never again. But I tell you something, a stoppage defeat like that sits in the back of your mind for a long, long time.”

Esham remembered his fights with the likes of Hunter, Dunne and Mallon. “I’d love to fight Hunter again because I let him off the hook, and the Dunne fight; I had such a slow start that I was playing catch up, but one of the judges had it close.” Pickering told me with a grin that he had an excuse for each and every one of his bad nights. “I’m still only 31,” he proclaimed. “I know at my age I am fairly old in my weight division but I’m a young 31, I’ve still got time to be where I want to be.”

Time will tell if Esham Pickering ends up being where he wants to be in this game, he has tasted the big league and he wants more of it and I wish him well in the pursuit of his dreams. thanks Esham Pickering for his time.

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