Craig Evans confident he’s starting a new chapter with Tom Stalker trilogy
Blackwood’s Craig Evans (15-1-2, 3KO) is confident he’s starting a ‘new chapter’ and aims to finally claim the first belt of his professional career.
It’s been tough for Evans, who is still winless in title fights at lightweight, including a close decision loss against Scott Cardle for the British title in May 2015.
As a natural super-featherweight, the Welshman is up against it against any lightweight but has to make the most of the only opportunities coming his way at the moment.
Explaining the situation, Evans said: “It’s a new chapter for me. I’ve moved up from super-feather because I couldn’t get fights. Now, Ronnie Clark is fighting for the British title, even though I beat him [PTS 10]. I don’t get the fights at super-feather, which is a bit strange.
“I’m comfortable and confident at lightweight, I make the weight easy. I 100% could do super-featherweight. I weighed 9st 9lbs at the check weight earlier this week, which is the lightweight limit and I only had to be 9st 12lbs then. So, my weight is not an issue, its just Tom Stalker’s the issue and he’s in my way.”
Towards the end of 2015, the southpaw shared back-to-back draws with Team GB’s 2012 Olympic captain, Tom Stalker (11-1-3, 2KO). Both were exciting encounters with most observers favouring the Scouser in the first meeting and Evans in their return for the vacant WBO European bauble.
Reflecting on the pair of punch-ups, Evans said: “The first fight, I took it for granted, I thought I was going to blast him out. I won the early rounds and he won the last lot of rounds, I thought he just pinched it.
“In the second fight, I trained harder, did more runs and everything, I didn’t take it for granted and it showed on the night. I’m honest about it all.”
The southpaws are due to conclude their trilogy on Frank Warren’s show tomorrow night at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena and it will be shown live on BoxNation. They weighed in earlier today, Evans tipping the scales at 9st 7lbs oz and Stalker was 9st 9lbs oz.
However, observers have had to wait for the decider as both took minor fights in the interim. Stalker claimed the same belt against Portugal’s crafty scrapper Antonio Joao Bento to guarantee a world ranking and more recently, Evans cruised to an eight-round decision against the gutsy owner of an even record in Jordan Ellison, dropping the visitor in the process.
Evans, who was willing to fight Stalker earlier in the year, said: “I don’t think it happened in June because they wanted him to win the belt first, so they gave him an easy opponent to win it because he knew he ain’t gonna beat me.
“They give him someone to win for the belt, give him some limelight and now come Saturday, I’m going to rip the belt off him.”
The judges weren’t able to separate the two but they’ll return to hopefully do it themselves. Knowing each other so well, Evans doesn’t anticipate a feeling out process and does expect a new experience.
He said: “I think it’s going to be a different type of fight. He’s going to say, ‘fight me in the middle of the ring’ but he ain’t gonna do that. First fight, I hold my hands up, I thought I lost but I thought I definitely won the second fight and it’s all on this third fight.
“He’s just a sausage, mun. He don’t give no credit where it’s due and people like that, I just dislike them. I’m not too bothered, I’m not sick of the sight of him, like. I just can’t wait to get in there.
“I don’t disrespect him because he’s a great fighter. The two fights have been great fight for the fans and it’s going to be another great fight on Saturday.”
The third installment was originally due to happen five weeks ago, only to be knocked back when headliner Liam Williams suffered an injury. It was a disruption to Evans’ preparations but he insists it’s allowed him time to peak at the right time under the watch of Tony Borg at Newport’s St Joseph’s Boxing Club.
He said: “They pushed it back five weeks, that really got on my nerves but I think that worked out better for me. It’s been a longer training camp and I’m raring to go now.
“I had about four or five days off and then got back in to it. I feel better in the end, I’ve had more sparring, I’m sharper and I feel absolutely great. I train hard for every fight but this, I’ve trained very hard for. It’s the third fight, it’s getting a bit dragged on and we’ve got to put this to bed, once and for all.
“I’ve been sparring this boy from Bristol, Riddy [Akeem Ennis Brown]. He fought last weekend in an English eliminator and beat an unbeaten fighter [Freddy Kiwitt], that was at light-welterweight, so I’ve had good sparring. He’s southpaw, tall and rangy like Tom.”
It has been testing times for Evans, who never expected an unfulfilling three-fight streak following 14 straightforward wins between 2010 and 2015. The first two contests were held in Stalker’s territory of North West England, a 400 mile round trip, and now Evans is determined to enjoy having his turn at home.
Evans said: “It’s going to make a difference. There will be more fans there for me, obviously. I’ve sold all my tickets that I’ve had, like. I’ll have a good crowd but it’s not about the crowd, it’s about me beating Tom Stalker and bringing that belt home, that’s all that’s in my mind.”
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