UNBREAKABLE

At the age of 11, Alan Bos­worth re­ceived a head­butt from his un­cle for invit­ing a black friend into their home. Sick and tired of his fam­ily, that Bos­worth de­scribes as ‘p***heads and trou­ble­mak­ers’, he be­came a fighter. His life didn’t get any less compl

Boxing News - - Contents -

The teak-tough Alan Bos­worth is a man who did things his own way in boxing

ALAN BOS­WORTH did boxing his way. He trained him­self in his back gar­den, trav­elled to fights on his own and had it been pos­si­ble, would have treated his own cuts. “Def­i­nitely,” he laughed. He could have writ­ten this…

Dur­ing his ca­reer, Bos­worth penned an al­ways-read­able boxing col­umn in his lo­cal news­pa­per, the Northamp­ton Chron­i­cle and Echo, and when he gave up the job, he asked his suc­ces­sor to de­scribe him as a “bat­tle-hard­ened war­rior.” It fit­ted.

Ev­ery­thing Bos­worth achieved, and he achieved as much as any Northamp­ton fighter, he achieved the hard way. In most of his 38 fights, he was matched to lose. “I didn’t have a trainer, pro­moter or even a man­ager for most of my ca­reer,” said Bos­worth, now 46 years old. “I did it all on heart and de­ter­mi­na­tion.” What he did was, against even his own ex­pec­ta­tions, fight his way from the right-hand side of the bill to a Bri­tish ti­tle chal­lenge.

“I did it com­pletely on my own,” said Bos­worth. “I had a punch­bag hang­ing up in the back gar­den and I used to do situps and press-ups in the liv­ing room while my mis­sus was at work.

“I still com­peted with the big names and when I look back on my ca­reer I think: ‘How the f**k did I do that?’” The bat­tles that hard­ened him started long be­fore he turned pro­fes­sional at 27, af­ter an un­re­mark­able am­a­teur ca­reer, with the mod­est am­bi­tion of “earn­ing a few quid and maybe win­ning a Mid­lands ti­tle…” “P***heads and trou­ble­mak­ers,” is how Bos­worth de­scribes his fam­ily. “My dad and brother spent years inside for armed rob­bery and my un­cle was mur­dered. I re­mem­ber com­ing home from school one day and my un­cle head­but­ted me be­cause I had brought a black friend back to the house. I was about 11 years old.” Both broth­ers were be­hind bars and nei­ther of his par­ents were there when, in March 2002, Bos­worth be­came the first Northamp­to­nian for 62 years to chal­lenge for Bri­tish hon­ours in their home­town. Against Ju­nior Wit­ter, there was a painful end to Bos­worth’s dogged pur­suit of the 140lb Lons­dale Belt in front of a sold-out Dern­gate The­atre. “I wanted to take Ju­nior into rounds eight, nine, 10,” he said, “but he was too smart. “The shots were com­ing from every­where. It was like be­ing mugged by a gang in an al­ley­way. Ju­nior liked at­tack­ing fight­ers and I was an at­tack­ing fighter.

“Ricky Hatton avoided him. Def­i­nitely. He would have sorted Hatton out the way he sorted me out. He pul­verised me.”

Bos­worth feels he should have had an­other shot at ➤

I DIDN’T HAVE A TRAINER, PRO­MOTER OR EVEN A MAN­AGER FOR MOST OF MY CA­REER. I DID IT COM­PLETELY ON MY OWN”

the Bri­tish ti­tle. He says there was a ver­bal agree­ment to fight Os­car Hall once Wit­ter moved on that came to noth­ing and, on an­other oc­ca­sion, the Board re­jected him as a chal­lenger for Lenny Daws af­ter Barry Mor­ri­son pulled out.

“The Board didn’t want me as Bri­tish cham­pion,” he ob­served, bit­terly. “I had no man­ager, no trainer and was a part-time lorry driver. How can you have some­one like that win­ning a Bri­tish ti­tle? No­body wanted that. It would have made them look bad.” Bos­worth’s rem­i­nisces are laced with bit­ter­ness. “The best peo­ple I met in that game were the box­ers,” he spat, “and the only per­son I ever met who didn’t want any­thing off me was [Peter­bor­ough man­ager and trainer] Ian Pauly.

“It’s a shame he didn’t live a bit closer and I didn’t meet him ear­lier in my ca­reer. “No­body else ever cared about me. “Good for Chris Eubank. He should be in­volved in his son’s ca­reer. He knows what the game is all about and doesn’t want to see him get ripped off. He wants the best for his son – and he knows that pro­mot­ers don’t. They just want the money, money, money...“That was also Bos­worth’s mo­ti­va­tion. “My fam­ily were trou­ble,” he said, “and I wasn’t brought up to work.

“I never had a trade and I needed money. I had a crap job, two kids and a mort­gage.

“I fought Ja­son Blanche early in my ca­reer be­cause the wash­ing ma­chine had blown up and I didn’t have the money to buy a new one.

“I was pot­less. I could earn more in one fight than I could for work­ing for a month, and that’s all I was both­ered about.

“I would get a phone call say­ing: ‘Do you want to fight him?’ I would say: ‘Where and when?’ and a cou­ple of days later I would be jump­ing on a train or driv­ing in my car to the fight.

“I got into a bub­ble where, if the money was right, I would fight any­one.”

That was the way Bos­worth was from the start of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer, in 1995.

He fought three times in the space of 30 days at the start, and each time the home crowd left dis­ap­pointed.

“They were learn­ing fights,” he said, “but not for me, for my op­po­nents.

“For me, they were sur­vival fights – but I kept win­ning them and be­fore you knew it, I was in the top 10. “I stayed there for the rest of my ca­reer.” Bos­worth was a do­mes­tic con­tender at three weights. At light­weight, he lost an elim­i­na­tor to Wayne Rigby – “I wasn’t ready and I was never a light­weight,” he said – Wit­ter wal­loped him for the Bri­tish su­per-light­weight ti­tle, and Bos­worth was well placed up at 147lbs af­ter a

I FOUGHT JA­SON BLANCHE BE­CAUSE THE WASH­ING MA­CHINE HAD BLOWN UP AND I DIDN’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY A NEW ONE”

dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion win over Matthew Hatton.

The hoped-for fight with Ricky Hatton didn’t ma­te­ri­alise – “The money wasn’t right” – and Bos­worth in­stead went to Europe for pay days against qual­ity op­er­a­tors Ge­orge Scott – “I thought I beat him” – Jan Bergman – “There was def­i­nitely some­thing in his gloves” – and Al­lan Vester – “What chance did I have? His dad was the pro­moter.”

Closer to home, he bat­tled Colin Dunne when weight drained, lost a fight to Paul Burke that Boxing

News scored a draw, and twice fought Ea­monn Magee. Of the wins on his 20-16-2 record, Bos­worth says the best was his gru­elling points vic­tory over Stephen Smith for the va­cant English 140lb ti­tle in De­cem­ber 2003, but his high­est-pro­file fight was against Shea Neary.

“The Sham­rock Ex­press” slugged with Bos­worth, and al­most came un­stuck.

“Out of all the fights I had, Neary was the only one I feared,” ad­mit­ted Bos­worth. “The thought of fight­ing him made me ner­vous.

“Ev­ery­one thought I was go­ing to get slaugh­tered.

“But we went toe to toe for 10 rounds and he was gone in the sev­enth. I had him. But I rushed in, got a bit wild and missed him.

“The com­men­ta­tors didn’t give me any credit. They were say­ing: ‘What’s wrong with Neary? Has he strug­gled to make the weight? Is he up for the fight?’ “His f ***** g prob­lem was me! “To them, he was the star and I was just a lorry driver. They didn’t know what I was made of.”

Boxing News gave Bos­worth credit, find­ing a place for the Neary fight in its list of the top 10 do­mes­tic scraps in 2000, and he had many other bouts wor­thy of sim­i­lar recog­ni­tion.

There was a bat­tle with Os­car Hall – “There was so much blood from my bro­ken nose I could just see this fig­ure mov­ing around that I tried to hit” – and when he fought Gavin Down in front of the BBC cam­eras, they swung hard punches at each other un­til Bos­worth had the fi­nal say with a fifth-round right hand.

The end came af­ter a seven-round loss to Ash­ley Theo­phane in Jan­uary 2007, but his sense of fair play has stayed with Bos­worth and ear­lier this year, he made na­tional head­lines af­ter suc­cess­fully su­ing Northamp­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil for wrong­ful dis­missal.

“They told 360 staff they wanted us to do ex­tra hours for no ex­tra money,” he said. “Ev­ery­one agreed to it – apart from me. I was the only one who had the b ****** s to stand up for my rights, and they sacked me for it. I didn’t have the money to take them to court, but I found out that if you have a home in­sur­ance, you can get le­gal cover, and it cov­ers em­ploy­ment dis­putes.

“They fought me all the way and for two years I was un­der so much stress. But I still had the fight in me, and I won. That was my great­est vic­tory.”

I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAD THE B ****** S TO STAND UP FOR MY RIGHTS, AND THEY SACKED ME FOR IT”

Pho­tos: AC­TION IM­AGES

AG­GRES­SION: Bos­worth at­tacks Wit­ter dur­ing their Bri­tish ti­tle clash in 2002

WAR­RIOR: Bos­worth al­ways gave his all inside the ring

GO­ING AT IT: Bos­worth scraps with two-time op­po­nent Magee [top], and gets the bet­ter of Smith dur­ing the best win of his ca­reer [above]

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