Islington star Rice targets Prizefighter success

Charlie Rice (right) with trainer Colin Wilson

Charlie Rice (right) with trainer Colin Wilson - Credit: Archant

Islington light-welterweight Charlie Rice is in confident mood as he gears up for “the biggest night” of his life – Saturday’s Prizefighter spectacular at York Hall.

The former Times ABC amateur star, who has just six fights under his belt as a professional, is one of eight light-welterweights contesting this weekend’s winner-takes-all £32,000 jackpot, screened live on Sky Sports.

On paper, the undefeated 21-year-old will be facing some stiff opposition – the field includes two current Southern Area champions and another three former title challengers.

However, Rice told the Gazette: “I’m confident of winning it – I don’t think there’s anyone there who’s a massive threat.

“I feel they won’t be able to handle my pressure, work-rate and body shots.

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“I’ve sparred three of the others before and got the upper hand against them. Everyone’s experience is near enough the same, so it looks really even.

“My manager (Micky Helliet) put my name forward and as soon as I heard I’d been accepted I jumped at the chance. This is the biggest night of my life and it’s all or nothing.

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“Being on this show will kick-start my career faster than if I was just building up my record – because it’s live on TV, everyone will get to see what I’m capable of.

“If I win the tournament, it can open up bigger doors for me – hopefully a Southern Area title or English title, those are the ones I’d be interested in over the next 18 months.”

Under the Prizefighter format, the eight boxers are randomly drawn in quarter-final pairings, followed by semi-finals and a final – all contested over three three-minute rounds.

That will represent something of a throwback for the Islington boxer, who joined the paid ranks just under 18 months ago and is still trained by his former Times coach Colin Wilson.

Saturday will also be Rice’s first outing at the Bethnal Green venue since his amateur days, when he was outpointed by Earlsfield’s GB champion Louis Adolphe in the London ABA final.

“You’ve got to return to your old amateur training – it’s back to the quick, snappy speed work,” Rice added. “At first that’s quite hard, but you soon get used to it and do it without realising.

“York Hall’s a nice venue to box at – it may be small, but the atmosphere will be buzzing and it’s where people make history. It’ll be the biggest crowd I’ve boxed in front of and I should have a good following.”

Of Rice’s potential rivals for the Prizefighter crown, four faced off for Southern Area titles in March, with Liam Shinkwin defeating Ryan Taylor in the lightweight championship and Danny Connor triumphing against Chris Evangelou at light-middleweight.

The line-up is completed by Matty Tew, Eren Arif and Tony Owen, another former Southern Area title challenger.

Tickets for the Prizefighter Light-welterweights III tournament, which is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, are available on 01277 359 900.

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