HARDING HERE TO BE A CHAMPION

A bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the Indian capital of Delhi should have been the launch pad for Keiron Harding to push on from and establish himself amongst Team GB’s elite amateur boxers. However,it was instead the start of a period that saw Harding’s frustration reach it’s highest level as he realised that his achievement brought him no closer to his dream of representing his country in the 2012 Olympics. Disillusioned with the amateur code, Harding took a three year break from boxing and it was in that time that England’s Anthony Ogogo took the 75KG (middleweight) spot for Team GB and he successfully annexed a bronze medal at London’s historic Olympics. Harding said, “I fought Anthony Ogogo about three months after the Commonwealth Games and he beat me. I knew that was it, that was him having the spot. So, that was my dream over and I just sort of lost my heart a little bit. I had about six months off, then it’s a year and before I knew it I was out of it for three years.” Having now linked up with professional trainer and manager Gary Lockett, Harding has become part of an ambitious stable of boxers that includes the experience of Gavin Rees, Enzo Maccarinelli and Kerry Hope as well as the enthusiasm of prospects Liam Williams, Lewis Rees and Dale Evans. The move to the paid code was something 23-year-old Harding felt he had to do. He said, “It was a big step to just slip away from boxing but I had work and I had my little boy as well, so I was occupied by that. It just spiralled in to three years, I was out of the game and now I’ve just thought, I better get back in to it because it’s now or never. “I was doing a bit of training and I kept myself in shape but I wasn’t doing anything boxing wise. Then I spoke to someone about Gary Lockett’s gym and it was close to where I was living, I thought I’d done too much in boxing to not turn pro. I went to speak to Gary and he said he’d take me on straight away, it’s been straight forward since then.” Harding, originally from Penarth, ended his self-imposed exile from competing in the ring last weekend on a Matchroom Sport show in Hull. Although dominant in victory over Stoke’s Mark Till, Harding was given a stern introduction in to the rough nature of professional boxing and he felt at home. He said, “It was meant to be somebody else, I don’t know who it was but Mark Till was my second opponent. Gary said he knew nothing about him so we both went in to fight blind. He was strong, especially for my first fight as my debut but I was fine with it because I didn’t have to change my style. “The pros suits me more than the point scoring amateur system. All I had to do was the more technical stuff and making every shot count. Instead of throwing ten shots where only one counts, now I’m making every shot count.” There are plans in process for Harding to feature next in Cardiff on either the Warrior Promotions show on December 13th in Sophia Gardens or Matchroom Sport’s show at the Motorpoint Arena in February. Either date, Harding is hungry and in closing, he sums up his refreshing philosophy as a professional. He said, “Obviously I want to get the British title but I know it’s not going to happen overnight. Looking at the long haul, of course I want to be a champion in big fights. I’m not just in this for the money, I’m here to be a champion.”

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