Former trainer put boxer on path to world title bid
DENNIS Clancy will never forget the day he told Mark Flanagan it was time to make the world his oyster.
Rasmussen- born boxer Flanagan ( right) will fight for the WBA world cruiserweight title against current holder Denis Lebedev in Russia early Monday morning Australian time, just a week after fellow Australian Jeff Horn startled the boxing world by beating legend Manny Pacquiao.
But it took a selfless act from Clancy — Flanagan’s former Upper Ross Hawks trainer — to get his protege down to Brisbane and world stage.
Making his way back into boxing in 2015 after a yearlong hiatus, Flanagan was prepared to stay under Clancy’s wing at the Upper Ross Hawks and keep scoring knockouts on closer to the the domestic circuit.
“The hardest part for me was when we had to split,” Clancy said.
“But I knew pen.
“I told him I knew of a guy in Brisbane, Angelo Di Carlo, who would look after him from now on.
“Mark didn’t want to go, he thought I was rejecting him, but I said to him ‘ you can be a good domestic fighter or you can be a fighter on the international circuit’.
“Mark was in a space where he didn’t really want to go, but I had to tell him I wasn’t rejecting him, it was just that I couldn’t do anything more for him.”
Flanagan linked with Di Carlo and started training out of Brisbane gym Boxing Ex- it had to hap- press, where he began to work with a bigger range of sparring partners, which was vital to Flanagan’s ability to train his way to the next level.
The big wins followed, starting with Flanagan’s IBO Oceania cruiserweight title win against James Langton, followed by his all- important WBA Oceania victory over South American Orlando Antonio Farias in November.
It was Flanagan’s secondround knockout of Farias that led to his world title opportunity against Lebedev, who sounded Flanagan out as a suitable warm- up fight for what the Russian hopes will lead to a rematch for the IBF title he lost to countryman Murat Gassiev in December.
Lebedev was once trained by Australia’s Russian- born former world champ Kostya Tszyu, and in a twist of fate Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach will be in Lebedev’s corner this weekend.
“Mark knows what he’s walking into, it’s going to be a really hostile environment,” Clancy said.
“But I’ve never seen him so confident before.
“To think that this young kid from a housing commission area in Rasmussen — who first walked into my gym as a 13- year- old — is now fighting for a world title, it’s unbelievable.”
Flanagan landed in the Siberian city of Yekaterinburg last Sunday, where temperatures have been a comfortable 21C during the day, and has been accompanied by a group of supporters including Di Carlo.