There is no hiding that it has been a year of mixed fortunes for 30 year old, middleweight boxer Kerry Hope. The man from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales rose to prominence by upsetting the odds to become the EBU European Middleweight Champion, defeating the favourite Grzegorz Proksa by majority decision on the Kell Brook Vs Matthew Hatton undercard. However the feeling of reaching a landmark and becoming a champion was short lived as Hope was stopped by Proksa in the 8th round of their much anticipated rematch, this time on the Kell Brook and Carson Jones undercard. The 30 year old took time out of his day to talk to FightHypeUK to explain and detail his journey in 2012 thus far.
The Southpaw middleweight now has a record of 17 wins and 4 losses. 3 of those losses have come by stoppage. Although it is not the ideal statistic that Hope wants to be reminded of, he still shows clear optimism in progressing through the ranks.
“Everyone loses at some point” explained Hope. “There are not many fighters that go through their career with their 0 intact. Especially when they are not the golden boy in the promoters eyes who get careful matchmaking. I’m willing to take risks and fight whoever and wherever I can. I know have four loses, two can be accounted for as an away fighter decision and the other was a loss on cuts but that’s boxing.”
A famous quote by Roman poet Ovid states “Happy are those who dare courageously to defend what they love.” This is precisely the notion that Kerry Hope followed when agreeing to a rematch with Proksa. Even as the EBU Champion, the Welshman was labelled as the underdog once again and would have to upset the odds in order to retain the title. It was an immediate rematch but Hope maintains he made the right decision in agreeing to trade leather with his Polish born opponent.
“After the first fight I agreed to a rematch simply because Proksa gave me the opportunity to fight for his title so it’s fair that when I won I gave him the rematch to fight for my title. I also wanted to prove to everyone that it wasn’t an upset and I was the better fighter all round. I was also told the winner would have a showdown with Barker.”
The second meeting between the two fighters got off to a difficult start for the 30 year old as he sustained a cut into the first round. The much talented Proksa was able to gain control throughout the fight landing his punches with authority. Unfortunately, Hope was unable to brave his way till the final round after proceedings were halted in the 8th round. A night of celebration and excitement on March 17th was soon transformed into a night of bitter disappointment in less than 4 months. Hopes tenure as the EBU Middleweight Champion came to an end although he clearly understands what went wrong.
“I knew coming into the second Proksa fight that it was more difficult and he would want to take back my title” Admitted the southpaw. “I trained the hardest I have ever trained in my life knowing id be prepared for whatever game plan he had in mind. I’m a good sports man and will say the better man won the same as I did in the first fight. But going back to the rematch I had a very hard 12 week training camp and unfortunately left it all in the gym. I honestly couldn’t o have felt more mentally tired going into a fight and paid the price. I spoke to Grzegorz after at the hotel and wished him all the best in the next step in his career.”
As it had turned out the winner of this bout was in line for a shot at middleweight champion and the much feared Gennady Golovkin for the WBA and IBO titles. Losing to Proksa within 4 months of beating him and then realising the winner was to get a shot at world title honours was a bitter pill to swallow for Hope. Although he admits that Proksa is a talented boxer, he maintains that he would have put up a sterner test for Golovkin.
“Proksa is a good fighter. In the first fight I saw something that made me think he is far from unbeatable. I saw him as a bully because he was blowing everyone away but when you confront a bully it is them who walk away with their tail between their legs. The Golovkin fight proved similar, when he threw his bombs and couldn’t get rid of him he seemed to go scruffy and lose control. I honestly believe if I was to be in with Gennady instead of Proksa that I would have made more of a fight that night. I feel I do have a mental toughness and stubbornness about myself that can rise to an occasion.”
Honours are even between Proksa and Hope, which begs the question if the two will meet for a final time proving who is the superior boxer. The potential trilogy has the Welshman interested but he remains sceptical that the two will fight again.
“I’m not sure what the possibility would be of a 3rd Proksa fight, he has gone on to fight for world honours against Gennady Golovkin so whether he will still fight at that level. I’m not sure.
I have not spoken to Eddie since my last fight, although my manager Steve Woods has been in contact with him planning our next move. I hope to hear something shortly because I hate to be kept waiting on things. I just want to fight for more titles.”
Hope will not be putting all his eggs in one basket. If a potential 3rd fight with Proksa does not materialise the ex EBU middleweight Champion will be exploring other avenues to stay active inside the squared circle to try and rebuild. Although there are no long term aims, Hope has short term goals that he is eager to meet as he takes each fight as they come. However like many fighters today he will be forced to wait until a fight has been signed.
“My main aim now is to get back with a 6-8 rounder and then possibly straight into a title fight. My manager is one of the best the game and I fully trust him whatever move he makes next. I just want to fight but like they say, time waits for no man.”
Our conversation was coming to an end. It is clear that Hope has been through an emotional journey through his career but he is adamant he still has a lot to give. There is some frustration evident but there is also ‘hope’ and optimism that he can bring honours back to his hometown of Merthyr Tydfil in the coming future. Asked to make a final statement, the middleweight decided to explain his position in the domestic scene and states that unlike his fellow middleweights, he is doing things the hard way.
“I definitely feel I should be labelled with the other top domestic middleweights.” He stresses. Yes, they have fought at world level but they have all only achieved something at the same level as I have done with the European. The problem is that Barker, Macklin, Murray all have different promoters who see them as the best and are promoting as much as they can until a big money fight happens. I just have to sit patient on my chance. I’m only a phone call away.”
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