Adam Etches

Rebuilding is a process that nearly all boxers do at some point through their careers. For some it may be multiple times, for others it happens early enough to learn the lesson and move on. For Adam Etches, the 24 year old middleweight from Sheffield, he is hoping that his rebuilding process is a swift and one time only affair.
 
In January 2015 Adam was on a high. Holder of the IBF International middleweight title, coming off the back of his 18th successive career win and undefeated, he was in a prime position to climb the world rankings and still at a remarkably young age. However it was in March 2015 in his beloved hometown of Sheffield where his only career loss to date happened. Tough Belarusian Sergey Khomitsky, a man who held a win over world title challenger Frank Buglioni and a draw with current British champion Nick Blackwell, scored a shock stoppage victory over Etches in the fourth round. 
 
"I think I was unlucky and was winning that fight pretty comfortably before I got caught" he reflects. "Maybe the stoppage, although it looked worse than what it was, was premature and I could have been given another chance. But there's no point in dwelling on what happened and I need to put it behind me, learn from it and keep moving forwards."
 
It's the view of a realist, no doubt a reflection on the Yorkshire upbringing that keeps Adam so down to earth. He speaks in that familiar Sheffield accent, friendly and welcoming even when talking about what was his toughest night as a professional. He had suffered a handful of losses as an amateur, but as he tells me it wasn't a format of the sport where he felt he could excel. "I turned professional at 19. I hadn't had that many amateur fights, just 30. I won 25 of them and I also did a bit of martial arts but I enjoyed boxing and thought I could make a go of it so just turned professional." So given that he was such a young age when he joined the paid ranks, does he see it as an advantage to come out of the amateur sport so early and embark on titles and big money fights?  "Where as an amateur you can learn and it doesn't matter. As a professional it costs you money and time and it's a rebuilding process when you get beat. But for me I wouldn't have it any other way because when I was an amateur, I wasn't naive enough to think I would ever become an Olympian with my style and the way I fight. There was no way I would ever get to the top, so I thought there was no point hanging around when I could turn pro and earn some money."
 
When we talk about the chance of going back to put right the Khomitsky loss, Adam is philosophical about the opportunity. "I would love to avenge that fight. If it happens it happens, if it doesn't it doesn't. My ultimate goal hasn't changed, that's to become a world champion and I need to get back to the drawing board and get going again. It's within my grasp to do it and I need to just keep going." Khomitsky is in the UK again at the end of January taking on John Ryder in what is a crossroads fight for the London southpaw, needing a win to keep his own title ambitions on track after a couple of career defeats.
 
For Etches, he started to put that loss behind him when he returned to the ring on July 18th of last year. He took on an undefeated Argentinian Victor Rosales who had 11 wins from 11 fights. Etches dispatched of him with ease, claiming a third round stoppage again back in Sheffield. So was it a conscious decision to take on a live challenge and not return to the ring against someone that would have presented an easier first fight back? "It's nice to fight someone who is unbeaten as they're coming to fight. But the kid I beat, he hadn't really fought anyone so all those wins that he had to be honest were poor. He had a padded record. Not taking anything away from him as he came to win and no unbeaten fighter wants to lose, so it was a risky fight especially after coming off a loss. But ifI want to get where I think I can get to then I need to beat kids like that and I need to be beating even fighters like Khomitsky. I just basically need to get back on the horse!"
 
Certainly it is a horse that he is now firmly in the saddle of.   Was there any sense of fear returning after his first career loss though? "It was good to get the cobwebs off. I was more nervous in this fight than I was in the Khomitsky fight that I got beaten in. It was nice to get in there and get on track and to winning ways, now I just need to get back and have a good year to get back to where I was this time last year." 
 
With the return to winning ways now in place, Etches is looking forward to his next fight. He is "99% hopeful" that he is going to be featuring on the undercard of the Kell Brook versus Kevin Bizier fight as Brook defends his IBF welterweight title against the Canadian on March 26th. It would be a welcome return to the limelight for Etches, the fight scheduled for the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield. No opponent is in line as confirmation of the fight is still outstanding, but as Etches tells me he is glad that there are big opportunities to fight where he grew up. "It's where I like fighting and a real good city for boxing. Kell's my friend and in Sheffield he's big, so it's nice to be part of these big events." So how is the IBF welterweight champion looking ahead of his latest defence? "Kell is looking very sharp. He's training hard and he'll be a world champion for a long time. Everyone knows what a talent he is, he just needs to keep doing what he's doing."
Josh Kennedy
 Etches says that as well as being a friend, the link up with Brook provides him with a role model and someone that can help to guide himself to become a similar level of fighter. "Kell is a close friend, not just someone I train with. It's nice to box on the same bills as him and follow him. He''s doing well. Every boxer in Britain wants to be where he is; World champion, unbeaten, nice kid. That's what everybody wants. It's good to watch him, follow him and copy him then hopefully I can get to those kind of levels."
 
The talk of world titles is off the menu for Etches at present. He talks about his own rebuilding with ease, and says that in this phase of his career there is an opportunity to re-trace his steps and change focus; with such a buzzing middleweight scene in Britain now he is ready to get himself into the mix with the domestic fighters that he has perhaps overlooked previously. "I definitely want to be around the British title. I kind of bypassed it before and had other things in my sights before my defeat, but now that the division is so hot with so many decent kids at British level I think I need to get in and win it. I think before I had my eyes on other things like becoming a European or World champion. In hindsight it was probably a bit too much too soon, so moving down and looking at that British title it could be a good move. This year will be a good year for me. I think I'm right in the mix. I've had one fight since the defeat, then I've got the fight in March hopefully against a decent opponent, then I'll be completely back on track and in the mix. I want the big fights, it's why I'm doing it and I wouldn't be in the sport if I didn't want the challenges. It's exciting times."
 
Indeed it is exciting times. A link up with a current world champion, a successful ring return and a domestic scene that has the likes of Chris Eubank Jr, Nick Blackwell, Tommy Langford, Spike O'Sullivan and the WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders. For Etches though he has one skillset that will always make him both eye catching and a danger in the division. Knockout power. It is not without reason that he is referred to as 'The Bomber' and from his 19 career wins, 16 have come by way of stoppage. Is it therefore strength that is the best asset of Etches? "My main asset is my power but it's important not to rely on it, I need to stick to my boxing. I will land a big punch during a 12 round fight but you need to make sure not to go looking for it."
 
The rebuilding isn't complete for Etches. His aspirations and goals remain the same after his sole defeat as they were before it. He is upbeat, resolute and focussed on what he can achieve. "I don't think anyone can take a route in boxing, you take each fight as it comes and concentrate on winning and not coming unstuck" he says. He is right, routes change for fighters. Opportunities open up that perhaps were not envisaged just as easily as doors close on them. For Etches his lesson has been learnt. He is now looking for the doors to open and is hoping that he can use the platform provided in his hometown of Sheffield to launch himself right into the British middleweight mix.
 
Adam wished to thank the sponsors who have supported his career to date and continue to do so. These are Napoleon's Casino, Owlerton Stadium and City Taxi's.