Jenkins aiming to make up for lost time with British belt

Jenkins aiming to make up for lost time with British belt

After a whirlwind start as a professional, Swansea’s Chris Jenkins (16-0, 8KO) has suffered months of misfortune but the light-welterweight is desperate to make up for lost time.

The 26-year-old will challenge for the vacant British title against Huddersfield’s Tyrone Nurse (31-2, 6KO) on 18 July at the Manchester Arena as part of Matchroom Sport’s ‘High Stakes’ show, live on Sky Sports.

Recent events have taken Jenkins, aptly nicknamed a ‘Rock n Rolla’ by his management team, on a roller-coaster of emotions that would test the tolerance of the most patient of people.

He said: “By the time I get back in the ring, it’ll be gone 10 months [of inactivity] but it doesn’t feel that long because I’ve always been in camp the whole time. I just can’t wait to get in the ring next week.

“At the end of the day, it’s boxing. You have as many downs as you have ups in this sport. I’ll show exactly what it means to me now on the 18th; there will be no messing about. It’s made me a stronger individual, a stronger person. Obviously, it’s been a bit of a ball ache but it’s part of the game.”

That adversity Jenkins speaks of started in October. Jenkins was due to meet Liverpool’s Tom Stalker in a British title eliminator and the promoter of the Team GB 2012 Olympic captain, Frank Warren, even won the purse bids.

However, Stalker chose to withdraw for ‘business reasons’ on three weeks notice and pursue other avenues, only to be stopped by Chorley’s Jack Catterall in eight rounds for the lightly regarded WBO European title.

Jenkins was then made mandatory by the British Boxing Board of Control [BBBoC] and scheduled for a straight shot at then-belt holder Willie Limmond in January. Fate would intervene again when the show was scrapped as headliner and ‘have-a-go-hero’ Anthony Crolla, who was due to challenge Richar Abril for the WBA world lightweight title, suffered horrendous skull and ankle injuries when chasing burglars.

The final twists in Jenkins’ tale came in April when the fight was rescheduled to take place at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. It started with Limmond citing a shoulder injury as his reason to vacate the title and that created an opportunity for former Central Area and English champion Nurse to step in on two weeks notice. The most dramatic incident was still to come when, three days before the contest, Jenkins collapsed in front of a BBBoC official at the gym. It was later discovered that he was suffering from a serious stomach virus.

Speaking of the ordeal, Jenkins said: “To be honest, going to bed on the Tuesday evening, I had a sore throat. Then, I woke up Wednesday with a pounding headache and I was back and forth to the toilet with a bad stomach.

“I pushed myself to do a run and I didn’t even do it in the end. I got to the bottom of the road and my legs were going, I was dizzy. As I was walking in to the gym, I was struggling to walk but I tried hiding it and just as I got to the doors, I blanked out. I had collapsed on the floor, my father was there and my coaches, the board [BBBoC] were there and they sent me to hospital.

“I had a really bad case of a stomach virus mixed with a number of different complications. It was due to being in camp for so long and my body just shut down on itself. In a matter of a couple of weeks, I was back in the gym and sparring. It didn’t take much out of me but I had to have that rest that was needed.”

Nurse still appeared on the show and he produced a typically flashy performance, dropping and out-pointing the unbeaten, albeit novice professional, Lewis Taylor over ten rounds. With Nurse standing at nearly six foot, the long limed counter-puncher’s physical stature is the polar opposite of Limmond but Jenkins wasn’t deterred by the change of opposition, even on the initial short notice.

He said: “I’ll be honest with you, it didn’t bother me. The graft I do in and out of the gym, sparring and on the road – I’m ready for anyone. If they changed it at the last minute to a southpaw, it wouldn’t bother me. I’m ready for anything, I have that mentality and I’m ready for whoever is there.

“When I was in hospital, I was in such a state. I was trying to get off the bed, pull my own drip out, I was trying to do silly things thinking I was going to fight on the Saturday. I came home on Thursday, late evening, and I was stuck on the sofa for a few nights. I watched Nurse boxing on Saturday, then.

“I’m expecting the same Nurse again. He’ll be slick, moving and throwing peppering shots, looking stylish. I’ve got my plan in the gym, we’ve taken bits from fights we’ve seen Nurse in and added my own style in. Y’know, I’m expecting a fit and strong, up and ready for it Tyrone Nurse. I’d just like to say to him as well, I hope he’s had a good camp and let the best man win.”

Jenkins, who trains at Cwmgors Boxing Club under the guidance of Ronnie Morris, first burst on to the wider British boxing scene by winning the Prizefighter tournament, storming the three round format and not losing a round in the three fight process. The Paul Boyce managed prospect then added the WBC International strap to his trophy cabinet with a shut-out ten round Unanimous Decision win over France’s Christopher Sebire. However, Jenkins implores that winning the historic Lord Lonsdale belt would be his biggest and most beloved achievement yet.

As an amateur with a vest and head guard, Jenkins’ competed at a high level and represented Wales at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, while still just 17-years-old, before going on to appear in the 2011 World Championships. The Welshman is the first to admit that he didn’t reach the heights he’d have liked to in the unpaid ranks but he feels full of confidence to meet his goals as a professional.

He said: “In the amateurs, I could have done a lot better if I trained the way I do now, as a pro. I don’t really mind what people say, though. People are entitled to any opinion. I don’t think I have been given the credit I’m due but after this fight, I think people will say, ‘fair play – that kid’s alright’.

“I’ve been ready for a long time. I’ve fought guys who they brought over to push me and take me rounds and I was banging them out. I’ve needed a big fight and it’s happening now. I can’t wait. Tyrone’s going to be tough but it’s going to be a good night for me.”

Should Jenkins win, the attention of many observers may turn towards Derby’s Dave Ryan. The destructive Commonwealth and WBC International ruler has racked up a series of standout wins against stellar domestic opposition, often causing upsets and raising eyebrows. Jenkins has watched Ryan’s victory against Nurse, the Yorkshireman’s only defeat outside of Prizefighter, and they’re the type of tough tests he welcomes with enthusiasm.

In conclusion, Jenkins said: “I just want to fight anyone who they put in front of me. I want tests like Saunders, Ryan and [Jack] Catterall. There’s a good few names there, a few good 50/50 fights there.

“I think I deserve to be at British level and I’ve got to prove I belong there by winning next Saturday. I’ll have other kids coming up after me and I’ll be looking to push on myself. The main goal is to win the British title, not just for myself but there are a lot of people behind the scenes that nobody knows, who put a lot of work in.

“At the minute, all my focus is tunnel visioned and focused on winning on Saturday. My team are working well with Matchroom, they’re working well with us as well and giving me the opportunities. Y’know, there are big fights out there. Give it six to 12 months time and who knows? Maybe I’ll have a big dust up between me and another big name in Britain for possibly a bigger title.”

Image by Matchroom Sport.

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