Rising lightweight boxer Billy Morgan on Kevin Mitchell, Jimmy Tibbs, learning the game and his boxing heroes

Posted: February 13, 2012 in Interviews
Tags: , , , ,

THE name fits the face, but it doesn’t describe the fighter. Billy Morgan may have tempted some writers to dub him “Billy The Kid” but a maturity far belies his 21 years.

Morgan, a lightweight, has six straight victories since turning professional, is a gym mate of Kevin Mitchell and counts the legendary Jimmy Tibbs as his coach. He could get carried away, develop an inflated ego and push to rise too far, too soon.

But he is doing none of these things. “In 12 to 18 months’ time I might be ready for a small title fight,” says Morgan, who dispatched Dan Naylor most recently, in a comfortable six-round points win at York Hall on Friday. “It depends not just on my boxing but also my maturity. I’m still very young and I’m not there yet with my physical maturity.

“If I am in a 12-round fight against an older opponent, for instance, then the last few rounds are going to be very hard for me. “I am in no rush, I am only 21. Against Naylor, I learnt about myself. In the first round I caught him with a right hook and I thought I had knocked him out. He stayed in the fight but I learnt a lot about my punching power.”

With the Tibbs combination of Jimmy – whose roll call of boxers includes Nigel Benn and Michael Watson – and his son Mark, Morgan can call upon decades of experience, invaluable for a rising fighter. “No-one questions anything Jimmy says,” adds Morgan.

“But when I first joined he said to me if there was something I didn’t like or there was something that wasn’t working, to let him know. Everything he says makes sense. “He could say to you ‘I remember when Michael Watson was in this situation, he did this and it worked.’ You’re always learning.

“There is probably no situation in boxing that they haven’t been in themselves. Going from a really experienced amateur coach (Mickey May, at the West Ham gym) to a really experienced professional coach has helped me.

“They have slowed me down and made me a lot more relaxed in the ring. They have tried to get me to turn into my punches. And when I first came to them I was slipping shots and I’d end up half-a-foot out! That doesn’t happen now.”

He may one day emulate Mitchell, set perhaps for a career-defining meeting with WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns in the summer. The two have been close, particularly of late, and Mitchell’s resurrection following his depressing night against Michael Katsidis in 2010 is a cautionary but inspirational tale of which Morgan happily takes heed.

“His mind is right and he is training hard,” says Morgan. “He knows that if he loses, there is nowhere else to go. We discussed this in the changing rooms on Friday night at York Hall, that Katsidis bursting his bubble was the best thing to happen to him.

“He knew afterwards that he had to put the hard work in at the gym. When you are 30-0 or 40-0 then you think you can have a few days off and still win, you won’t lose. “It’s been great talking to him. He’s spoken to the other lads in the gym about the defensive side of the game, as he says he’s been getting more defensive himself.

“He’s talked to me about taking good care of my hands, because that’s how injuries come. He’s talked to me about fighting journeymen, if you want to call them that, and what to do. It’s a great help.”

Morgan, who claimed two junior ABAs, the National Boys Clubs, plus a junior Four Nations gold in the amateur ranks, only reinforces his thoughtful, considered image when outlining his plans outside the boxing.

“I want to focus more on my boxing – I only have one shot at it, you have plenty of time to work,” he says, with full conviction. “I’m training to become a gas engineer. If I ever lose my job (as a plumber) then I want to be able to something on my own. It’s hard to work then train, so I want to set up on my own.

“If I could pay for my own house and not worry about the mortgage, I would be happy. I’d like to get into property like Carl Froch, buy some houses and then rent them out. I want to look after my family.”

And his heroes? “At first it was Ricky Hatton, then Miguel Cotto. Now it’s Floyd Mayweather, who would beat Manny Pacquiao. He’d counter-punch him all day long. “I don’t think that fight will be made though, because of the money. I’ll fight Floyd for free though!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s