JEROME SAMUELS: JOURNEYMAN TO PROSPECT

The Mecca of Welsh boxing, Newport Centre, will see one of the city’s own attempt to take another step forward to reaching his potential on Saturday as Jerome Samuels (3-5, 1KO) tackles yet another tough task in the form of Blackwood’s Dai Jones (4-1-1). 20-year-old Samuels says he has a dream to headline a show but he knows that he must first steal the show on Saturday in what could be an all action encounter as both his and his opponent’s natural instinct is to stalk on the front foot. He said, “The plan is to steal the show but at the same time, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I’m gunna go in there and enjoy what I’m doing and I’m very confident I can beat Dai Jones. “There’s plans in the pipeline for me to headline a show but first I’ve got to get through this fight which is basically an eliminator for a Welsh title. Whoever wins this, and I’m sure there’s only going to be one winner,  they box for the Welsh light-middleweight title in on the December show in Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.” The Gwent derby is scheduled for six-three minute rounds, the longest both boxers have been in the ring before is four-threes. Samuels knows that he and his opponent have to go for longer and harder than they’ve had to before to win and he insists that he has what he needs to have. He said, “It’s my first six rounder so I’ve taken a lot of advice from my trainer Richie Garner and from my Dad – Paul Samuels, a former two time world title challenger. He knows his stuff and he’s told me to stick to my boxing and then this kid shouldn’t stick with me. Obviously, Dai Jones comes out of St Joseph’s gym and my Dad is from that gym, I’ve been told that if I’m on it then this boy shouldn’t give me any problems whatsoever. “I respect him as a fighter, he’s a warrior. Anyone who does professional pugilism, I respect him and outside the ring, he carries himself well and he’s very quiet. As a fighter, he’s very one dimensional. He’s just a fighter, I’ve said I don’t think he can out-think or out-skill me, so his only other option is to fight it with me and hopefully I can show my maturity.” As an amateur, Samuels enjoyed modest success on the circuit with the highlight being a national schoolboy title yet that success seemed a long way away after his maiden five paid fights which all resulted in losses, two by stoppage. He reflected, “I only had three years in the amateurs and I was Welsh champions two year running. I boxed in the British championships, boxed against Australia, Ireland, England. I done a little bit in them three years, I only lost five fights out of 25 but I lost my way, I went off the rails and it could have been the biggest mistake of my life. I’ve got to accept my mistakes in life and realise that I’m here now and more ready than ever. “The one thing I’d like to put across is that when I turned pro, it was just because of the money. I was a desperate boy who needed some money, I sort of abused my talent, I didn’t show what I had. My first five fights, yes they were losses but I weren’t training for fights. I was drinking copious amounts of alcohol days before a fight and living a very messy lifestyle.” Seven of Samuels’ eight opponents have been undefeated and ‘home’ boxers but he insists that the struggle makes success even better, especially when he’s managed to turn things around with three wins on the bounce – in his last bout it even resulted in Samuels appearing in the home corner and scoring his first career knockout and he aims to continue improving his standing. He said, “Obviously it’s one fight at a time but I’m looking for bigger and better things. 12 months ago I was zero (wins) and five (losses) and now I’m one fight away from headlining a show, that’s a zero to hero type of story. Most of all, I thank God that I can perform and I’ve changed my career around. I’ve had to change my lifestyle and that’s my success.” “When I met my partner, Rebecca, it was the making of me. It was going to make me or break me and thankfully it made me. I mentioned to my girlfriend that I wanted to fight again and she said if you’re gunna fight again then you need to take it serious, it isn’t a mess around sport. Then, I stopped drinking, I got a new manager from London in Greg Steene and a new trainer in Richie Garner. I changed from a boy to a man.” One face that’s become more prominent in Samuels’ career that will be familiar to boxing fans is his Dad’s, Paul, who was one of Britain’s hardest hitters and most exciting boxers when in his prime. Paul was involved in memorable domestic classics, most notably against Wayne Alexander and Cello Renda. Jerome is keen to make his own name but he’s soaking up all of Paul’s experience in an unusual way… by sparring together. He said, “Sparring with my father, I won’t get any better sparring in Wales. As far as I’m concerned, my Dad is one of the most unlucky boxers not to win a world title. The sparring we’ve done wasn’t four rounds sharp, then take a few off and go again – it is 12 rounds of highly paced intense rounds.” In closing, Samuels concluded with a statement that perfectly sums up his inspirational outlook on his lifestyle turnaround and the motivation for continuing on the right road. Samuels opened up, “At one point I never thought I’d lace a glove up again because I hit rock bottom in my life. I’ve managed to pick myself out of the gutter and turn my life around. Hopefully after this win, it’s my dream to emulate what my Dad done, the first title he won was a Welsh light-middleweight title and I can have a chance to emulate exactly what he did.”

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