Attention will be on the heavyweight dual between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin on Saturday, but that’s not the only show in town this weekend.
Shakan Pitters is aiming to add the British light-heavyweight title to his collection – the same belt Tony Bellew won ten years ago.
The former West Bromwich Albion youth footballer faces Chad Sugden on Saturday night live on Channel 5 and we sat down with the 13-0 man, to discuss how he’s got himself to just one win away from a British title…
Ladbrokes News: Hi Shakan, how has training camp gone and how does it feel to finally be able to step back in the ring?
Shakan: My training camp’s gone well; it always does. I always learn something new about myself and my body. It’s exciting to have a date back, with the pandemic going on, I’m just blessed to be able to showcase my skills live on Channel 5 and be a part of Hennessy Promotions.
I’m looking forward to Saturday and putting on a good display.
Ladbrokes News: You were initially due to face Craig Richards for the British title in March. How difficult has it been to adjust to a new opponent during lockdown? Has it been harder to organise sparring?
SP: We’ve adjusted well, it didn’t matter whether it was Craig [Richards] or Chad [Sugden] that I was facing. The main thing was getting the mandatory for the British [light-heavyweight title] that was all that mattered.
There were no major adjustments that needed to be made, my sparring’s been going well, and my training’s been good.
Ladbrokes News: You last fought at the famous York Hall last September where you won the English light-heavyweight title. Do you think fighting behind closed doors in a studio will cause a problem?
SP: I don’t think it will affect anything. I’ve got the ring there, I’ve got my gloves, I’ve got my team there, my coaches Paul and Louie Counihan and my manager Jon Pegg.
It would be great to have the fans here, but you’ve got to adapt and carry on with it.
[On fighting at York Hall] It was a great atmosphere; the fans really brought the energy. From the walk out to the ring, the [intimacy of the venue] really brought a bubbly feeling and the crowd felt fully engaged.
It was great to fight in such a historic arena and even better winning my first title.
Ladbrokes News: What are your thoughts on the challenge that Chad Sugden poses? You’re both comfortable fighting off the back foot. Do you think your reach advantage will be key? Will his kickboxing past present any unique challenges?
SP: His kick-boxing past won’t do anything as he can’t do a spinning heel-kick in the ring, but I am very big for the weight.
Although I started boxing late on paper, I have been boxing from a young age and I know I’ve got a lot to me. I know I can make the adjustments, he [Sugden] says he can make the adjustments, so it all pans out to be a good fight the way he talks!
But regardless I’m going to get the win, my hand will get raised and I’ll leave with the belt and the victory.
Ladbrokes News: What would it mean to you to walk out that ring as the British light-heavyweight champ?
SP: It would be a big achievement, not everyone wins a British title, so it would mean a lot to me to win it, if I’m honest.
Ladbrokes News: You were a youth player at West Brom, did you have to pick between focusing on football and boxing at the time?
SP: I didn’t have to make a choice in my teens, my Dad brought me to the gyms and made me spar, but never let me have a fight. I was like ‘Dad I really want to do it [have a fight]’, as my brothers were boxing and having amateur fights.
I don’t regret anything even if I started so late in the game, I’m fresh even at this age. It was at 22-years-old when I made the decision to pick boxing.
Ladbrokes News: How would winning the British title compare to playing pro football?
SP: It would be a big deal; it would show that no matter what you do and whatever transition you make in life or your profession if you’ve got the will and belief in yourself you can make it happen.
That’s what I’m looking to go out and prove on Saturday, it’s pure hard work and dedicating myself to what I am doing paired with having a great team and family around me that’s got me to where I am today.
A lot of good British boxers have won this belt in the past and go onto do big things in the game and I’m looking to do the same.
Ladbrokes News: Did you grow up a Baggies fan? Do you still follow the sport now?
I’m a Manchester United fan, but I don’t follow it as closely as I used to, especially when I’m in fight mode.
I did used to go the games regularly even just two years ago, but my training has taken over now.
Ladbrokes News: Having experienced Academy-level football myself, the expectations and discipline really intensified as you rise through the age groups, how much do you reckon that prepared you for the challenges in your boxing career?
SP: It did a bit, but my dad instilled that into us as a family. He’d wake us all up and make us run at 4am in the morning. We’d go running before school twice or three times a week – crazy things – but it’s what creates greatness and good habits.
My dad was the one that instilled that discipline but being at West Brom and Academy football does teach you that structure, the food you should eat and even what colour your urine should be!
Ladbrokes News: Have you been able to look beyond the weekend at other things you want to achieve in your career? What is your main goal?
Throughout my whole career I’ve taken things step by step. I think when you look too far ahead that’s when mistakes can happen. I’m not looking any further than August 22nd and getting this job done.
With what’s at stake, Chad is going to give it his all as well, but I’ve just got to do what I do best and come back with the win.