Davies knows he can’t afford a loss in crunch Commonwealth clash

Davies knows he can’t afford a loss in crunch Commonwealth clash

Merthyr Tydfil’s Dai ‘Dutters’ Davies (12-23-2, 2KO) knows he can’t afford another loss after turning his career around and embarking on a mission to win a major domestic title. The featherweight faces Barnsley’s Josh Wale (17-7-2, 10KO) in an official eliminator for the Commonwealth title at the Magna Centre in Rotherham on 30 May. Davies said: “With Josh Wale, he can’t afford to lose again and I can’t afford to lose. I’m coming off a good couple of wins, though. He’s had his opportunities; he’s boxed Jazza Dickens and Gavin McDonnell for the British title and he didn’t do it. “I’m going to win. I don’t want to go backwards, I need to go forwards. For me to get my shot at a Commonwealth title, I have to treat this like the title fight.” Until 2014, it looked like Davies would become one of the fighters with a sterling reputation in the gym who failed to translate it to fight night. However, the Welshman has bounced back and fallen back in love with boxing. He said: “I love the game and it’s not about the money. In the past, I’ve taken fights for money because I’ve got a family to feed but it’s different now. I do eight hours on the scaffolding every day, so boxing’s not about the money for me anymore. I’ve got a good income. “This is about a goal that I’ve always dreamed about. I’ve always wanted to fight for some sort of major title.” Last year, Davies began with an away day victory over the heavy hitting Andy Townend in Yorkshire and ended it by collecting a minor International Masters Gold belt by seeing off Ashley Lane. Davies’ scored his most meaningful win in between those outings, forcing a repeat stoppage in a rematch with Robbie Turley. Despite being in his third reign as Welsh Area champion, the Turley victory was Davies’ first successful defence of his beloved belt. It was a hurdle the 33-year-old was happy to overcome and Davies believes it’s given him the perfect platform to progress from. He said: “It’s got to be the best year I’ve had since I started boxing. I’ve been up and down, won Welsh titles and lost Welsh titles. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never fought a journeyman or bum, everyone I’ve fought has been prospects or champions but last year, I was prepared for it. My results speak for themself.” Wale, who is proud of his Welsh grandparenthood, is on his own comeback trail. The 27-year-old twice competed for the British title, most recently losing a competitive Unanimous Decision to Liverpool’s James ‘Jazza’ Dickens in March. That prompted Wale to move up four lbs north to featherweight, having been at super-bantamweight since he was a teenager. Analysing his opponent, Davies said: “Josh Wale is just another opponent to me. I know he’s a game fighter, a come forward type of fighter and he’s been on the circuit a while like myself. “I won’t have to go looking for him. I feel I’ll have a bit too much for him, to be honest with you. Obviously, we’re going up towards his way but I’m switched on and everything is going perfect for me.” A 12-year-old Wale once boxed at 126lbs against George Groves in an English Schoolboy final and now 15 years later, Davies is planning to give Wale a rough re-welcoming to the division. He said: “I know I’ll be stronger than him. If I get a chance to stop him, I’ll stop him. If I have to beat him on points, I’ll beat him on points. He only has one plan, that’s to come forward. He can’t box me on the back foot but I can. I’ve got Plan A and Plan B, he hasn’t.” In preparation for Wale, Davies has been sparring intense pressure fighters who compete in the light-welterweight category, 14lbs higher than featherweight. Both Swansea’s Chris Jenkins, former WBC International champion, and Trelewis’ Gavin Gwynne, 2015 Welsh Elite Championships winner, have provided Davies with an uncountable amount of rounds and he feels more than prepared. Davies said: “I’m holding my own with Chris Jenkins in sparring. He’s a class act, people haven’t seen the best of him yet. He’s a stone heavier than me and if I can hold my own with him, Josh Wale got no chance. I’m taking that confidence in to the ring with me. I’ve done my homework and I’ve got to put it into place now. “Obviously, I won’t disrespect him or write him off but I’m feeling confident, I’m showing something I’ve never showed before. I’ve got to go there and produce the best performance of my career now.” While still under the guidance of the experienced Dai Gardiner at Gelligaer Boxing Club, Davies has been working more and more with Jason Thomas. The fledgling co-trainer knows boxing inside out after winning four Welsh titles and a European Championships bronze as an amateur, before a less successful professional career. Speaking of the new partnership, Davies said: “With Dai’s experience, you won’t ever get more experience than that. Since I lost my old trainer, John Gamble, about six years ago, I’ve been working with Dai and I’ve always looked up to him. “Jase has brought a lot to my game, too. With Jase, I do a lot of strength stuff, pad work and running. He’s been in the game for a long time; he was a good fighter as an amateur but didn’t have a fair crack of the whip as a pro. “He gives me a lot of self-belief and I’ve been seeing a sport psychologist, too. That’s boosted my confidence, it’s all been doing wonders for me.” Meanwhile, a former opponent of Davies’ will challenge for the ultimate honour 180 miles away in London. In 2010, Lee Selby stopped Davies in two rounds of their Welsh Area title fight and now stands on the edge of winning the IBF world title. Davies says he always knew the Barry boy was special and he expects him to become Wales’ 12th world ruler in nine days time. He said: “I think Lee’s gotta good chance. Since I boxed Lee a couple of years ago, he’s come on incredibly. He’s always been a good boy, as an amateur too, and he’s massive at the weight. “I don’t think I was right on the night [he fought Selby] but he’s improved a lot. I think he has a great chance and I think he’ll be world champion next week.” Sky Sports Box Office will show ‘Rule Britannia’ exclusively live this Saturday. Buy now at www.skysports.com/brookgavin

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