‘Everything has changed, but the outcome is still going to be the same’ - Wardley ready to fight Vallily in Eddie Hearn’s back garden
- Credit: PA
The date and location may have changed, but Suffolk heavyweight Fabio Wardley insists the result will remain the same when he finally squares off with Simon Vallily for the English title in July.
Red hot prospect Wardley (8-0, 7KO), was due to face Commonwealth Games gold medalist Valilly (17-2-1, 7KO) at the Newcastle Arena on April 4, in his first title shot, but that was scuppered by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now it looks as though the fight will take place in a tent in the garden of promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing HQ in Brentwood, as one of the first boxing shows in the ‘new normal’ sporting world.
“I thought we might sneak the fight in before the lockdown,” said Wardley, a former pupil at Chantry High School in Ipswich. “But it’s not the end of the world, there are far more serious things going on.
“Now the fight will be in July - there’s no set date yet, but we’re looking at mid to late July. Eddie’s been setting up what he’s calling ‘Fight Camp’ in the garden of his offices - there will be a big canopy, changing rooms, all that. It’ll be like fighting in a big marquee, but with no fans.
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“So everything has changed, but the outcome is still going to be the same - I’m going to stop him.”
Lockdown rules have meant Wardley’s had to change his training regime – he’s put a punchbag up in his garden and built a gym in a garage with his brother - but sparring, an essential heading into a fight, has been banned so far.
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However, stage two of the Government’s return to training guidance for elite sport means that Wardley, 25, will soon be able to step back into the ring and trade punches at his Suffolk Punch Boxing Club base, under head coach Robert Hodgins.
“I’ve really missed sparring,” he said. “That and the fight are the best bits of what we do, it’s the fun part.
“I’ve been speaking to a few other boxers about it and when we get the green light we’re all going to get together – I won’t be able to use the full array like normal, but it’ll be ok.”
Of the unusual fight experience ahead, which will feature Covid-19 testing, a spell in quarantine and wearing a face mask on the way to the ring, Wardley added: “I don’t think it will be as weird as people may think.
“The first few minutes there will all be odd, but any fighter will tell you that as soon as you get in the ring, everything else disappears.
“I watched some of the UFC (behind closed doors events) and as a spectator it was weird, but for the fighters, once they were in there, I bet it felt pretty normal.
“So what if you have to wear a face mask for a few seconds walking to the ring? You just take it in your stride and get on with it. We’re there to do a job.”