Lilley looking to crash the party and upset Jones

Lilley looking to crash the party and upset Jones

Swansea’s James ‘Lights Out’ Lilley (7-5, 2KO) is planning to crash the party when he challenges Barrie Jones (21-10, 8KO) for the Welsh Area title on Friday. The light-middleweights meet on Sanigar Events’ ‘Unleash The Dragon’ show at the Newport Centre, which will be broadcast live on Matchroom Fight Pass. If Ferndale’s Jones wins, a heated local derby awaits. Clydach Vale’s Commonwealth champion Liam ‘The Machine’ Williams recently contacted BoxingWales.com to state his desire to face his fellow Rhondda boxer when he returns from a hand injury. Speaking about the situation, a relaxed Lilley said: “It’s everything to gain for me. I’ve got myself to a point where I needed a big fight to come up and it has, I’ve got nothing to lose now. If Barrie’s got a big fight on the horizon for the Commonwealth title against Liam Williams, he’s going to be feeling the pressure. “If they’re planning to fight, that’s up to them but if Barrie’s looking past me, he’s making a massive mistake. Lets hope he’s prepared for this fight, all I can do is go out to fight and forget what’s happening in the background.” Lilley has obvious intentions to upset Jones and take the title that was won with a third round knockout of Jerome Samuels in March. If the 28-year-old pulls it off, he’ll deservedly put himself in the picture for bigger fights but Lilley isn’t getting carried away with the possibilities. He said: “I’m a realist. I know my record isn’t as good as Barrie’s and probably my ranking isn’t either but all I can do is keep winning. “I know Liam quite well, as well. We go to Gary Lockett’s [Williams’ trainer and manager] quite a lot for sparring. Again, I’ve got a lot of respect for Liam, he’s a nice guy who always has a lot of time for people. I’ve heard there’s been a little bit of needle between them on Facebook, I haven’t seen it myself because I’m not on Facebook. I’m just taking it one fight at a time, though. “If I win the title, hopefully it opens doors for me. Chris Sanigar has good contacts in place, as long as I stay in the gym and commit myself as much as I have then there’s no reason why I can’t have one of those shots and grasp it with both hands.” On the undercard of Jones’ title win, Lilley stopped a game Ameen Alkailany in less than a round to set up his shot. Since then, he has been working relentlessly with his coach John Kaighin at the WareHouse Boxing Club, owned by middleweight Chris ‘Mutley’ Ware who recently collected his own Welsh Area title in a proud period for the gym. Lilley said: “I’ve knuckled right down since Christmas and the turn of the year. I sat down with John because, obviously, I wasn’t really focused. We then signed with Chris Sanigar and I’ve just been living the life really; long days, not in the house much, missing my family, training before and after work. I do feel I’m 100% better than I’ve ever been and I’ve left nothing in the gym. “I’ve seen my gym mate Chris Ware win the title, it’s pushed me on a little bit more and I want to bring another title back to Swansea for all of the people who have stood by me over the years. “Other than John Kaighin, who has been there from the beginning for me, Chris has been a big catalyst in my comeback. I was sparring with him and he told me I was wasting my talent, so we’ve helped each other prepare for our comebacks. I haven’t really looked back since.” Having suffered two knockout defeats in his last three fights and seen different opponents withdraw from two unofficial eliminators, Lilley thought his chance would never come. It’s that adversity which has inspired Lilley through his hardest ever training camp. He said: “To be honest, it’s all I’ve been thinking about since my comeback [Lilley returned in 2013 after a four year break]. It’s been on my mind a lot, I thought the opportunity might’ve slipped me by because I had that long break. There’s nothing I want more in the world at the moment than getting my hands on that Welsh title. “I didn’t think [a Welsh Area title fight] would ever come. I got to a point where I was one fight away, we had Luke Osman and Tony Pace pull out. It always seemed I was one fight away. I had two defeats in a row, which set me back 12 months or so, so it’s been a big rebuild. I’m not getting younger, so I thought my chance had slipped me by. “I’ve taken fights I shouldn’t have taken, I haven’t been sort of 100%. Because I’ve had such good notice for this fight and I’ve wanted it since my comeback, I’ve bever been more focused. That’s why I’m putting myself through it in the gym.” In preparation for Friday’s fight, Lilley has paid particular attention to adapting to Jones’ southpaw stance, a feature he has limited experience of facing as a professional but believes he’s prepared for. Lilley said: “I’ve boxed a couple of southpaws as a pro, I think it’s two I’ve boxed and it’s been one win, one loss. All of the good amateurs in my gym were southpaws and all the sparring was southpaw, so I’m pretty used to it. “I’ve been going all over for sparring, Tony Borg’s gym to spar Craig Evans and Rob Turley. Since I found out I was fighting Barrie, it’s all been about boxing southpaws and preparing for that, so I don’t know what it’s like to fight orthodox guys anymore.” Jones presents, on paper at least, the toughest obstacle of Lilley’s nine year career. The 31-fight veteran has competed amongst the likes of former and future world champions Souleymane M’baye and Kell Brook, experience Lilley is yet to match. Despite the comparative difficulty of the task ahead, Lilley holds no personal hostility against the man in the way of his Welsh Area title dream. In conclusion, he said: “I know quite a lot about Barrie. He was always a couple of years older than me and in the Welsh senior squad as amateurs. I watched his fights on TV years later then. I’ve got a lot of respect for Barrie, he’s done it all in the domestic game, he’s fought some of the top welterweights and light-middleweights up and down the country. “Barrie’s come close to top titles but just sort of lost and he’s a dangerous opponent. I know him outside of the ring, he’s a tidy guy to talk to. There’s no animosity between us, it’s just business at the end of the day.”

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