Southern Area light-heavy king Miles Shinkwin gets a chance to showcase his wares when he tops the bill for the first time in a 10 round international contest at the York Hall tonight.
The 27 year old for England rep has quietly cruised to ten straight wins and is targeting domestic glory before the year is through. On Monday, boxing writer Glynn Evans caught up with him to discuss his career.
The Shinkwins of Watford are one of Britain’s biggest boxing clans. Dad Danny, a granddad, five uncles and five cousins all laced up. How significant was the fight game during your childhood?
Mum worked nights and I’d be forced to go to the boxing gym when dad (a pro welterweight) was training. I’d kick and scream because I wanted to go to me nan’s with my sisters instead.
At the gym I had the option of watching, bored shitless, or joining in. So that’s how I got started. I guess I’d have been about five.
I never actually remember watching dad box but I do remember being in the ring and carrying the round cards at his fights. The cards were bigger than me!
So I’ve always been around boxing. There were always boxing photos of dad around the house and I remember getting up with him in the middle of the night to watch the big Lennox Lewis fights from the States.
Though he boxed pro, dad always much preferred amateur boxing. He loves the art; hit and don’t get hit.
Mum hates boxing and never wanted me involved. But around aged nine, Dad’s mate’s son wanted to start. Dad said he’d coach him and I tagged along. I had my first bout at 11.
I was also a decent footballer but much preferred boxing. Once I hurt my back playing football and it affected me in a bout which I lost. After that I ditched the football.
I’ve an 11 month old daughter but if I ever have a son there’s not a chance in hell he’ll box. It’s such a hard sport. There are no easy days. I’d far rather he was brainy than strong!
Fast rising featherweight Mitchell Smith was a gym mate at the Bushey ABC and now your stablemate as a pro. Was his potential evident as a youngster?
Definitely. Mitch’s has always had a face you just want to cuddle but he’s a proper spiteful little git. From a very young age, he’s been intent on hurting people in sparring. I still spar him to warm up and he can’t half whack. He can be as good as he wants to be.
You were an outstanding junior boxer, winning four national titles and representing Young England, but tailed off as a senior. Why?
That’s right. I beat (Olympic medallist) Anthony Ogogo at 16, (English light-heavy king) Travis Dickinson at 17 and lost by just two points to (reigning WBO light-middle boss) Demetrius Andrade at the Junior Olympics.
That night I was tucked up rotten! I was a point down going into the last round but punched lumps out of him and he had a two point deduction for holding. Andrade went on to beat (future IBF welter champ) Shawn Porter in the final.
But at 17 I found alcohol and started thinking I was too talented to train hard. I started losing bouts by the odd point which I should’ve won comfortably. I got fat. I fought in the senior ABAs up at cruiserweight!
Conversely, despite remaining unbeaten, you didn’t rip up too many trees in your initial eight pro fights but have shone in your last two, at Area title level. How come?
Because of my lack of senior success in the amateurs, I didn’t get a big contract initially and had to work my way up from the basement.
Obviously I was excited for my pro debut but, after that, it was hard to get up for journeymen whose sole purpose is to avoid getting stopped and suspended.
I respond best to a challenge. I fear no opponent but I need the fear of losing to bring out the best in me. I need for people to doubt me so I can prove them wrong.
Several thought Joel McIntyre would prove too strong and, despite breaking a rib in round two, I still showed my quality and picked up the Southern Area title (pts10). It was similar with Richard Horton who I stopped (in six) in my first defence.
Your first four opponents took you to points as you made the transition between codes but you’ve stopped four of your last six. How do you account for that?
Like I say, it’s hard to coax the survivors out of their shell and tag them clean. I stopped a few in the amateurs mainly on the ‘outclassed’ rule but my coach Jay (Jason Rowland, ex British light-welter champ) stressed the need to hurt people and generate entertainment if you’re to move ahead in the pros. We work a lot now on power shots.
I also work twice a week with a strength and conditioning coach. Giving up work (as a heating engineer) last November has also helped. I’m very grateful to my sponsors for that.
Now you’ve bagged and defended the Southern Area belt, what are your goals for 2015?
I already believe I’m the best light-heavy in this country.
I’m never one to mention names, I just chase belts and will fight whoever happens to hold them. The English title (held by ex amateur victim Travis Dickenson) would be great and, given the family’s strong Irish connection, I’d also like the Irish belt. My granddad on dad’s side was from Cork but passed away a few years back and I’d like that out of respect to him.
I’ve a lot of respect for Bob Ajisafe (reigning British champ who also challenges for the vacant Commonwealth title on Saturday) but he’s gone on record that he doesn’t want to fight any more domestic opposition.
Enzo Maccarinelli is number two but I doubt the British title interests him at this stage. That leaves Travis at three and me at four to hopefully contest the belt if it becomes vacant.
How much are you looking forward to topping the bill for the first time, at the York Hall on Friday?
It’ll be great. It was actually supposed to happen for the Horton defence but then they slipped in Ovill McKenzie against Matty Askin at late notice. There’s some very good fighters underneath me so that makes me very proud.
I’m in great shape. I had quality technical sparring with Andy Lee over in Monaco and twice a week for the last month I’ve been working with George Groves. You have to be very wary. George throws every shot with bad intentions.
I’ve not seen anything of Friday’s opponent (Hungary’s Bela Juhasz) but the geezer’s record suggests he’s got a big punch. A win inside six rounds would represent a very good night’s work for me.
You’re a six handicap golfer. Ever wish you’d followed that path?!
I do love my golf and play every Saturday plus midweek if I can fit it in. My cousin Callum is a pro on the European tour and easily the most talented sportsman in the extended family.
But, nah, I love boxing. Once you start it’s incredibly difficult to give up. It’s a bug.