Tony Sims: ‘I’ve turned Conor Benn from a raw novice into a world-level fighter’

Tony Sims, one of many trainers of 2021, on life with Benn, Money, Ryder Cordina, Cheeseman… and Covid

“IT’S loopy isn’t it? Boxing’s a loopy world. I acquired Covid. I had each jabs and I didn’t get Covid till I had my jabs, then I had the 2 jabs and acquired it, however we went like a stack of dominos within the fitness center. We nonetheless don’t know who introduced it in, it may have been me, you don’t know, however as quickly as I had it everybody had it. John Ryder, Ted Cheeseman, Felix Money and the final one to get it was Conor Benn. He didn’t get it similtaneously all of us acquired it. I want he had, as a result of he acquired it the week of the combat [against Granados, which was postponed from Fight Camp], however he didn’t even know he had it till they examined him. Up till that time I’d been lucky to maintain it out of the fitness center. I’d launched loads of stringent guidelines, like nobody to come back to the fitness center from outdoors… I attempted to get my boys to spar with one another and I disinfected the fitness center daily. The place my fitness center’s a personal fitness center, different folks didn’t are available, so I used to be actually strict however ultimately it acquired us and all of us acquired it.

I didn’t have it badly. The one one who did was Felix, who ended up going to hospital one night time and being placed on respiration equipment however everybody else simply had it for a few days of sweats and actually that was it.

[With Covid] It’s a really troublesome scenario you’re in. I used to be spraying the canvas daily, spraying every part within the fitness center daily after coaching and it was a each day foundation and then you definitely had the protocols of all of the exhibits. It was a ache within the arse going into the bubbles for the week, not popping out of the resort, all of the checks you’re doing consistently, you’re sitting there ready to see whether or not you’ve acquired it or not, so it was a ache however you’ve acquired to get by way of it and nonetheless get the fights on on the finish of the day. It was an even bigger drawback for the promoters, like Eddie [Hearn] making an attempt to place the exhibits on and getting by way of the exhibits with out crowds. It was a troublesome scenario.

[In December] Conor Benn-Chris Algieri was clearly an enormous spotlight. I’ve put him in with a former [WBO] champion and it was a destruction job… Joe Cordina is now in touching distance of preventing for the [IBF] title in opposition to Kenichi Ogawa, John Ryder may combat Danny Jacobs on February 12, that’s an enormous combat, and Felix Money will most likely go in in opposition to world-ranked opposition on the identical present. These 4 have come by way of Covid and every part round it and pushed on to larger fights subsequent 12 months and hopefully they’ll all be difficult for world titles this 12 months. The draw back was Ted Cheeseman dropping his British title and Martin Ward dropping that eliminator [against Azinga Fuzile] for the [IBF] title however that’s boxing and that’s life, you’re up and also you’re down. It’s like a rollercoaster.

Felix was because of combat in August however he had a foul break up up along with his spouse and the three youngsters, so I couldn’t let him field on that present. He got here again in to coach for a combat in October after which 4 of his cousins, the Cashes, acquired killed in a automobile crash, in order that despatched him backwards and he didn’t combat on that present. He’s been within the fitness center because the funeral and he’s acquired a date in February. He was within the combine, it was out of him and Jason Quigley, who was going to combat [Demetrius] Andrade and I felt like possibly he wanted one other couple of fights earlier than that form of combat. I had fancied Felix to do what he did to Denzel Bentley. Generally you go in to fights and also you suppose it might be harmful however I all the time felt Felix could be a few ranges above.

[Conor Benn said pre-Algieri he would stay with Sims all the way through his career]. I hope so. I’ve turned him from a uncooked novice to a world-level fighter so the period of time I’ve invested in him is rather a lot and also you’ve acquired to have loads of persistence as a coach. It’s arduous sufficient while you’re taking a child out of [Team] GB, who’s gifted and boxed world-level fighters world wide. It’s arduous sufficient doing it with them, not to mention with a uncooked novice, so you may think about the quantity of hours I’ve spent within the fitness center with Conor and guiding him by way of the fights to get him the place he’s now. It hasn’t been simple however I’m certain he’s going to repay me.

Every combat Conor has progressed and within the final combat in opposition to Algieri you see how sensible he’s, defensively in addition to offensively. We all know he can punch however he’s additionally a wise fighter with good head motion, a pleasant jab and his ring generalship is nice. I’m not saying he’s the completed article as a result of I don’t imagine any fighter is the completed article, however in the event you take a bit of data from one combat you need to use it within the subsequent one. It’s like he stated afterwards, the Conor Benn you noticed that night time might be a special one subsequent time. The enhancements are all the time there to be made.

Conor Benn trains with Tony Sims
Mark Robinson

We’ve acquired a superb relationship and we all the time have carried out. I prefer to suppose I’ve with all my fighters as a result of it’s not simply, ‘Let’s get within the fitness center, prepare for 2 hours and so long.’ It’s in regards to the bond and constructing a relationship with somebody you’re working with daily for years on finish. They appear to you and belief you and it’s outdoors the ring as effectively, they’ll ask me questions the place hopefully I may give them recommendation and assist them outdoors the ring. It’s a belief bond, as a result of on the finish of the day they’re going into harmful territory each time they combat they usually want somebody they belief in.

With [Ted Cheeseman’s] fashion of preventing, it was all the time going to be arduous [against Troy Williamson]. Ted’s a troublesome child. He takes just a few to offer just a few and that’s his fashion of preventing and each time he fights, he provides and takes and the gang loves it however longevity isn’t going to be there for Ted. Truthful play to Troy. He’s rather a lot higher than we thought he was going to be. I don’t know if after the buildup of fights Ted was beginning to get a bit burnt out, since you’ve acquired to grasp, along with his fashion of preventing, the spars are arduous. It might be potential he was getting burnt out however I’m by no means going to take something away from Troy Williamson as a result of he had the combat of his life for that title, which, by the way in which, it’s a must to do to win a British title. I don’t know if Ted will field once more. He’s 26 years previous and he’s solely had 20 fights, and loads of them have been title fights, and the final six have been arduous fights… However the factor with Ted is he’s acquired outdoors companies that go effectively for him. He’s acquired a constructing firm with fairly just a few folks that work for him and he’s opened a wine bar in Chislehurst that’s busy, and he most likely earns extra from them than he does within the ring. With Ted, as a result of he’s not doing it for the cash, it depends upon whether or not he desires to come back again and win a British title for a 3rd time. I’m undecided he’d need that, realizing him as I do know him. When he was preventing Williamson, he was ranked 4 by the IBF and had he gained that he might need pushed on and acquired himself a shot. If he doesn’t combat once more, he’s definitely given the British public some nice nights of preventing.

[John Ryder fought just once in the year]. As nice as Canelo is for the celebrity, and all of us love watching him, everybody has to take a again seat whereas Canelo is unifying. They’ve all acquired high challenges so all these fighters have to sit down and wait round to see what Canelo does and, honest play to him, he’s a terrific fighter, however it doesn’t assist anybody else as a result of they don’t get their shot. We have been imagined to combat David Morrell in the summertime for the WBA common title, that didn’t come off, then the [Dmitriy] Bivol combat was there for December and John wished to try this and go up a weight and Eddie stated it will be in London, then it was America, then it was Russia and I didn’t need to go to Russia and problem Bivol at light-heavyweight. I didn’t suppose it was a superb transfer. So we turned that one down however we needed to take a combat to get out and we took a last-minute one in Austria and now we’re ready on the Danny Jacobs combat.

Joe [Cordina’s] had a superb 12 months. He had that nice knockout in Struggle Camp in opposition to a troublesome child [Joshuah Hernandez] and he had a difficult hand operation final 12 months once they took bone out of his hip and put it in to his hand and he was out 18 months and he was cautious of utilizing it, however he’s closing in now on a world title and hopefully Eddie can get that for him within the New Yr.

Tony Sims with Joe Cordina
Tony Sims [left] with Joe Cordina. Picture: Matchroom Boxing

I’m not wanting so as to add to the secure, not in the mean time. I’m concentrating on what I’ve acquired. I’ve had a heavyweight be a part of our secure, Demsey McKean, an enormous southpaw Australian heavyweight who boxed just a few weeks in the past within the States and I’m coaching him with my brother, Peter. He’s about 20-0 so we’ll see how he goes however the 4 I discussed [Benn, Cordina, Cash and Ryder] are all heading in direction of world title fights and if John wins in opposition to Jacobs I believe the lure of London might be large for Álvarez and with Conor there’s talks about him preventing Adrien Broner in April, Cordina in opposition to Ogawa in early spring and Felix pushing on throughout the subsequent two or three fights and possibly taking a look at a world title earlier than the tip of the 12 months, so I’m actually simply concentrating on what they’re doing.

I’m going away for 9 days after Christmas however I’ve acquired [former British and Commonwealth lightweight champion] Kevin Mitchell working alongside me within the fitness center now, he’s acquired a few younger fighters however I’m going to take him below my wing for a few years so I’m leaving Felix and John with him whereas I’m away.

It has been a superb 12 months. It will likely be a superb 12 months if one or two of them change into world champions subsequent 12 months, as a result of the tip aim is to choose the world title up, and that’s what you construct for while you first begin teaching, that’s the final word aim.”

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