IN DEPTH WITH ASHLEY SEXTON
Rising flyweight talent Ashley Sexton features on Queensberry Promotions’ debut of the exciting new concept show BoxAcademy on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546) on Thursday 3rd May at The Troxy in London.
Unbeaten in twelve fights, the Cheshunt fighter will go in over eight rounds.
Name: Ashley Sexton
Born: Edmonton, north London
Family background: I’m the eldest of three. I’ve a younger brother and a younger sister. I’m the only one in the family who’s boxed but I’ve heard I’m distantly related to Archie Sexton (a 1933 British and Empire middleweight challenger from Bethnal Green).
Today I live in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire with my fiancée Natalie. I’ve three kids, Archie (5), Indie Summer (3) and Tiger Manny (1).
Trade: I do a bit of labouring. I went to college to do gas installation and passed everything so I’ve that to fall back on but I turned pro at 20. What I’d like to do is personal training; nothing better than walking around all day looking at a gym full of women and getting paid good money!
Nickname: ‘Flash’, partly because I had some proper flash moves and partly cos I scored a flash knockdown in my fourth schoolboy fight. Danny Oliver, Spencer’s brother, called me it and it stuck.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? As a young kid I weren’t very athletic. I was into insects and bugs, and loved going fishing; a bit of a geek! Where we lived, around Tottenham and Wood Green, was pretty rough. My school was pretty rough and, if you couldn’t defend yourself, you’d get eaten alive. Dad took me to everything; kick-boxing, karate, judo but I enjoyed the boxing on a social level. I became good friends with Darren and Gary Barker after he took me to the Finchley gym when I was seven or eight.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I had my first fight, aged 11, at 30 kilos! For the first four years I stayed at Finchley and was trained by Jimmy Oliver, Spencer’s dad. At 15, I moved to the Cheshunt ABC where I was coached by Mark Bliss, once a Southern Area featherweight champion then finished off at the Haringey club under (trainer) Brian John.
I had 97 fights and lost less than 25. I won the Minors, two national schoolboy titles, was robbed in the Junior ABA finals up in Huddersfield, then bagged two NACYPs. Twice I got to the semi-final of the English (senior) ABAs but was stitched up against Liverpool’s Paul Edwards (2006), then beaten fair and square by Adam Whitfield of the Army (2008). Both went on to win the title.
Against Edwards, I thought I dominated but, in four rounds, was only given one point, other than those given against him for persistent holding. Ridiculous! Hopefully, he’ll move up to superfly in the pros so I can right the wrong. That needs addressing!
I must have had 30 odd internationals and represented England at every level from the age of 12. I went to the European Schools in Rome, the European Cadets in Estonia and the European Juniors in Lithuania but never managed a medal. I also went to France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Ghana and the US many, many times. I once boxed a Cuban, Salanas, who’d beaten Yuri Gamboa and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
The highlight was representing England abroad. I shared a room with Amir Khan for many years and fellas like Bradley Skeete and Georgie Groves who were also on the squad will remain friends until I die.
I was never a computer boxer, always had a fight, so I’m very content to walk away with four national titles. I exceeded expectations and saw places I’d otherwise never see. My one regret was that I never bagged a senior ABA title. I let myself down there.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I knew I never really had a style to succeed at the Olympics because I got involved too much, liked everyone to enjoy my fights. Knowing I was small, I always watched the lighter pros like Jimmy Yelland, Ian Napa, Martin Power, Spenny, the Booth brothers, Johnny Armour…Like them, I wanted my name to be up in lights.
Tell us about your back up team: Up until my British title draw with Shinny Baayer (May 2010), I was trained by Paul Rees, managed by Mickey Helliet and promoted by Frank Maloney. Afterwards, I wanted a change. Perhaps I was trying to shift the blame but I left Paul on amicable terms, saw out my contract with Mickey and moved to Hayemaker.
There, I was trained mostly by Pete Marcasiano, David Haye’s strength and conditioning coach and learned loads of new stuff. I had two fights in Germany on Haye undercards and one in the UK when Darren Barker fought for the European title. Pete was a terrific guy but I found it hard to adapt to Hayemaker’s way of fighting, I wasn’t a natural counterpuncher like George or David. Pete no longer had time to give me his full attention and, after a few months and no fights with Spencer Oliver, I apologised to Paul Rees and went back to him and Mickey. I found the grass weren’t greener!
I trust them implicitly and that makes a big difference. Before the split, because I went a few fights unbeaten, everyone was blowing smoke up my arse and, if I’m honest, I got caught up a bit in the hype. I’ve grown up a lot since and I’m glad it happened then. I’ve become a better person and better fighter because of it.
I first met Paul when I was at the Finchley. Because he shuns the limelight, he’s very underrated. He doesn’t get the ABA champions but converts average fighters into good fighters. With a good fighter, which I believe I am, I think he can make ‘em world class.
I can still call Pete and Ruben Tabares from Hayemaker for advice. Ruben’s knowledge of nutrition is second to none and, strength wise, Pete could turn you into The Incredible Hulk if he wanted!
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I used to have a fight then go missing on holiday for five weeks and eat my body weight! However, after my last fight on a Friday night, I was back in the gym sparring six rounds the following Monday.
If I’m working, I’ll be up for a five to six mile run before going to work then I’ll hit the gym immediately after. Four weeks before a fight, I give up the labouring. That’s the only way you can get 100%.
In camp, I move into my Nan’s to isolate myself from the kids. I’ll arrive at The Monster Gym in Cheshunt around midday and, after Paul’s taped my hands, I’ll do rounds of shadow boxing, pads, bags, a circuit, some skipping, maybe a bit of cross trainer or some sprints on the machine, then stretch out. It varies. Paul makes it up as he goes along.
Two or three days a week, I’ll spar with guys like Brad Watson, Phil Gill and Andy Smith, a southpaw who works my corner. Later, I might do another weight session or more cardio and two days a week I do fitness work with a guy called Ben Cormack. But I never kill myself. I’m mindful of overtraining.
Also, I go away as a paid sparring partner. I once did two and a half weeks in the French Alps with Brahim Asloum (the 2000 Olympic light-fly gold medallist and ex WBA light-fly champion). I was looked after very well and learnt a lot. Recently, I spent 10 days in Italy with Andrea Sarritzu (the former European flyweight champion and a recent IBF challenger).
Sparring is what I most enjoy. I just love to fight. There’s no pressure on you and it depends on my mood. Sometimes I mess around, other times, I’ll go for the guy. I least like making weight. It can ruin careers if you don’t respect it. I used to eat take aways out of training but now I keep my weight lower. Today, I never walk around above nine stone.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m a ‘leave it all in the ring’ guy, an action fighter. Recently, someone wrote I’m ‘a warrior by nature’. I liked that. I like my fans to get their money’s worth. I like to impose myself, apply educated pressure off the jab, pin ‘em on the ropes and hit ‘em hard with every shot.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? My defence definitely still needs addressing. I take too many, sometimes. When I sparred Sarritzu, he weren’t the most technical but he really shelled up and took hardly any punishment. That’s how you succeed at the very top level.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? Not having to score points. Also, they’d pull you apart whenever you got close in the amateurs. I like to work inside and throw people about. The pro refs allow you to work yourselves out of clinches, provided you’re not holding.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Probably Wayne McCullough. I sparred him at his garage gym over in Vegas. I was only about 14 but he bashed me up with body shots and stuck the nut on me nose! He was class. Straight after, his wife Cheryl came into the ring wearing six inch heels and gave him a serious pad session. Amazing!
The best home fighter I’ve faced would be Rendall Munroe. He was as strong in round ten as he was in round one and was just very good all round.
All time favourite fighter: Between Marco Antonio Barrera, a proper warrior who was technically very good, and Mike Tyson who was just ferocious. I’ve met Tyson a few times and he was always a really nice bloke.
All time favourite fight: Barrera-Morales I. Both were world class fighters who gave it everything and really hated each other!
Which current match would you most like to see made? Mayweather-Pacquiao. It’s ‘The Fight’, isn’t it. I think Mayweather beats him; too big and too cute.
What is your routine on fight day? If in London, I set no alarm and just wake when I wake, then spend another hour in bed, dozing. I’ll have a nice breakfast then have a shower and a shave. Sometimes, I’ll get my haircut. I need to look my best. Afterwards, I’ll chill out with a DVD or on the Internet. I might watch some boxing.
In the build up to every fight, I get myself a good book to read in the dressing room on the night of the fight. I start getting changed an hour, hour and a half, before I’m due in the ring. I’ll flick out on the pads then it’s time to go.
Entrance music: It’s always the first few bars of ‘Flash’ by Queen followed by something different for every fight.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? This year I definitely want to make my way to the British and Commonwealth super flyweight titles. After that, it’s a bit awkward as the division’s not recognised by the EBU yet. That said, fighters with less fights than me have contested world titles over in the Far East. Hopefully, I can be manoeuvred into the right positions.
How do you relax? Generally I spend time with the kids and catch up with mates. You don’t get time when you’re stuck away in camp. We’re all football mad so watch matches at the pub or play over the field. I’m no good but I’m definitely the fittest!
Football team: Mad Arsenal fan. I can’t commit to a season ticket but can always get tickets when I need them and I go regularly.
Read: It used to be biographies; Che Guevera, Fidel Castro….Recently, I’ve really got into Stieg Larsson novels; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.
Music: Mainly Indie Rock. I like The Stereophonics and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Films/TV: I like films with the big name actors. If Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp or Will Smith is in it, you know it’s likely to be good. On TV, I love a bit of Shameless and I’ve just started getting into Entourage and Jersey Shore.
Aspiration in life: To be remembered as a fighter who always gave you your money’s worth.
Motto: Seize The Day!
The debut of BoxAcademy will be broadcast live on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).
Tickets for BoxAcademy on 3rd May at The Troxy are priced at £35 and £50 and are available from the Queensberry Promotions Box Office on 01992 550 888 or www.frankwarren.tv
Queensberry Promotions presents the first installment of a new concept show that will be televised Live and Exclusive on the UK’s new home of boxing, BoxNation.
BoxAcademy will be a monthly live show that is solely dedicated to showcasing the most exciting, young, up and coming domestic talent in tougher, more action packed fights, designed to develop the young fighters at a faster rate to Championship level.
On one Thursday every month, BoxNation will switch the focus from its huge array of World, British and European title contests, and give the floor to a host of former Olympians, amateur champions and unbeaten prospects, as the UK’s elite young talent is given the chance to be the main focus of the show in BoxAcademy.
BoxAcademy will visit the various regional hot-beds for young boxing talent around the country, visiting a different city each month.
BoxNation’s televised coverage of BoxAcademy events will be supplemented with an array of behind the scenes interviews, training footage and background stories, giving viewers the chance to get to properly know tomorrow’s champions.