Islington boxer sets his sights on world ranking

Charlie Rice defeats Pavel Senkovs at the Millennium Hotel Mayfair

Charlie Rice defeats Pavel Senkovs at the Millennium Hotel Mayfair - Credit: Philip Sharkey/TGSPHOTO

Islington’s Charlie Rice is determined to shed the pounds as he attempts to force his way into the world rankings later this year.

Rice was less than satisfied with his performance on last week’s Burns Night dinner show in Mayfair, despite recording his eighth win in nine contests against Pavels Senkovs.

The former Times ABC amateur admitted he felt sluggish during the four-round light-welterweight bout at the Millennium Hotel – partly due to the effects of a cold, but also because he was carrying excess weight.

“I wasn’t happy with my performance at all,” the 21-year-old told the Gazette. “I got a cold earlier in the week and I was in the gym on the day, trying to sort it out, but I still went into the ring all ‘flued up’.

“Overall I just didn’t feel myself. I got hit with shots I shouldn’t have got caught with and when I hurt him I wasn’t able to back it up with anything else.

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“George Groves, who works with my trainer Barry O’Connell on his conditioning, was there on a table and he said I did well. But even with him saying that, I still wasn’t happy with the performance.

“Maybe I put on a bit too much weight since my last fight. I boxed at 10st 6lb, which is the heaviest I’ve been as a professional and I’d never box that high again.

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“I’ve got to start chipping away at the weight and make it to lightweight (9st 9lb). It’s a case of getting back in the gym, back on the diet and getting my running in.”

Despite feeling below-par, Rice always held the upper hand against the Mansfield-based Latvian and caught him with a series of left and right hooks to earn a 40-37 points decision from referee Bob Williams.

Rice had been hoping to feature on the next show staged by his manager Mickey Helliet later this month, featuring Southern Area middleweight champion Elliott Matthews at the Camden Centre, Kings Cross.

The Hellraiser promotion, which is being screened by Eurosport, will also include unbeaten Islington middleweight Joe Duffy and former Islington BC captain Aarron Morgan on the undercard.

However, Rice has had to pull out to complete medical checks with the British Boxing Board of Control over the coming weeks, and he is now aiming to fight again at the end of March.

“Everything could be completed in time, but there’s no point in risking it,” added Rice, who plans to attend the February 21 show and cheer on another undercard fighter, his friend Ben Day.

“I’ll have one more fight at the end of March and then Mickey’s going to arrange for me to have a WBC youth title fight, ideally before the season closes out in July.

“That would give me a world ranking and put me in the top 40 in the world. Hopefully then I can go for a Southern Area title later this year or early next year.

“I’m looking to step up to 10-rounders soon and fight for titles. I think the one in the summer might even be 12 and that’d be fine by me – the longer the better.”

n Former St Pancras ABC amateur Alan ‘Avalanche’ Higgins makes the step up to 10 rounds for the first time when he fights at York Hall later this month.

The unbeaten 25-year-old middleweight will be back in the ring for the first time since September when he faces Yorkshireman Jason Ball on Miranda Carter’s ‘Stand and Deliver’ show on Sunday February 23.

The pair have met before, almost exactly a year ago, with Higgins triumphing on points in a six-rounder at the same venue.

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