Lloyd Ellett

Darrel Church

Matching up a fighter as they make their first strides into professional boxing is an awkward task. For many new pros they will take journeyman opponents, ones who can teach them some of the tricks of the trade without posing too much of a threat of giving out an early loss. It's a safe way of bedding a new fighter to the sport as promoters and managers often utilise the same journeymen over for multiple prospects. For Darrel Church though, he didn't want the soft landing in professional boxing and instead opted for, perhaps not the deep end, but an area few would choose to make a splash.

His first two fights saw him take on one debutant and one fighter who was making his third appearance. Although it may be seen as a soft touch to take on fellow new professionals, these opponents are a risk as it is unknown just how good they are (as opposed to the journeymen, who are known quantities). "I want a record of saying I fought decent fighters when they were good, not fighting nobodies. My manager knows how I feel and what I want to I leave it with him really" says Church.  He came through both fights with points victories, but then come his third outing he learnt about defeat the hard way, losing out on points to Angelo Crowe, a man who himself was in only his ninth fight. It was a loss that Church took hard, but is now in a place where mentally he can reflect and take the positives from the outcome as he tells me:

"I was gutted because I've never experienced it before. But I'm over it now and just can't wait to get back and get the win! People say you have to have a loss so you feel what it's like and it makes you realise you don't want it again. All I've done is learn from it."

Church fights out of his hometown of Essex, which is where the light heavyweight started his career in boxing. It wasn't until the relatively late age of 19 that he first tried the sport, and instead of taking the traditional route through the amateurs instead took part in a number of unlicensed bouts. The unlicensed scene in Essex has been active for a few years now and has seen a number of graduates into the professional sport. As Church explains to me, the experience that he gained in fighting at places such as the Circus Tavern have been pivotal as he transitioned to professional boxer:

"I had eleven fights and won them all. I fought for a couple of titles too and won them in the IBA. All the shows I was on were big shows, always loads of people there so it was good to be on them." Says Church. "The reason I started in unlicensed was that when I took it up the closest gym to me was an unlicensed one so I went straight to that as I didn't have an amateur club near to me.
You get used to not wearing a head guard and you know anyone you go in there with its likely to be a war. You're used to having that power, whereas in amateur it's more fast and tactical. It does help you get used to the sport when you do turn over."

The first and only taste of defeat that Church had in the sport was that loss to Crowe in June of this year. Is he able to identify what went wrong that night? "He came flying out and by the time I'd worked out his style and was winning rounds the fight was over, it was only four rounds. With four rounders they're so short it's difficult. I should have switched on straight away but sometimes it doesn't happen like that and you need time to work people out." So withdrawn loss on his record, is it an opponent that church would look to gain revenge against in the future? "I'm looking to get a rematch with him early next year so hopefully that comes off. I wanted it immediately but picked up an injury, so it would have been stupid to go in there like that. He's not in the gym at the moment so the rematch can't happen on my next show, it will have to be next year."
Church is stern when talking about wanting the rematch. The steeliness suggests that he has in mind a new game plan or different strategy to handle his adversary. Perhaps part of that confidence is borne from a change in setup, as he subsequently joined a new trainer after the defeat. So was the loss the sole reason for a refresh of camps? "I've changed my routine and it's going really well, I'm happy with what we are doing in the gym and he's doing me well."
 
Now that logistics are easier for the Essex fighter there is another date in the diary for his ring return, as he fights on December 3rd at Civic Hall in Essex, a place that is becoming increasingly familiar as it has hosted each of his professional bouts. Snow carries a record of no wins, one draw and one loss so again is an unknown quantity. Has Church gone out of his way to research his opponent from Sheffield? "I haven't read too much into him really. I just do what I do in the gym and concentrate on getting the win whoever it is really" he tells me in a way that suggests the focus will be on what he can do in the ring, not his opponent.

Outside of boxing Church runs his own painting and decorating business, which he admits makes fitting in a training schedule hard work but being his own boss has it's benefits. " I go running in the morning,work all day and then train in the evening. It's better that I work for myself as I can pick and choose a little bit, but you still have to be earning money. It's better than working for someone but you need to make sure you're bringing in enough!"

Within the weight category of light heavyweight there are few big names at the top of the rankings. As Church puts it, there is "an open path" when it comes to making progress to the top of the domestic setup.  "I'm hoping to get this fight out the way, get back to winning ways and start to work my way through. Light heavyweight is a good division to be in in Britain so we will take it fight by fight" says Church.

When we discuss his ambitions within the sport he is ambitious yet modest about how far he sees himself going. He says that British title level would be "a fantastic goal" and with the limited number of big names in front of him there are certainly the opportunities to build towards that aim. There is clearly the road bump to overcome first after the hiccup loss to Crowe. With an aim to avenge that loss in early 2016 and an eye on the wider domestic light heavyweight scene the next 12 months will be pivotal in the career of Darrell Church. December 3rd is the first step towards rebuilding, one fight at a time.

Darrel Church wanted to thank his sponsors MB Surfacing, who have provided key support in his boxing career.