Johnny Garton

Johnny Garton

The glitz, the glamour, the razzmatazz; it's part of what boxers get into the sport for, right? Well, not for 'The Pexican' 28 year old Johnny Garton from Peckham! A member of the Goodwin Promotions stable, the promotional outfit have recently upper their production values down at York Hall for their events - swanky new lighting rigs, full ring walks, entrance videos all accompanied by ring girls straight from Spearmint Rhino. But that doesn't all sit too comfortably with Garton as he tells me: "I don't really like all this stuff to be honest, I just like the boxing! But all this stuff comes with it and Steve is taking non TV shows to the next level he really is. All the photos and filiming, I'm out of my comfort zone, I just want to get in there and box really!"
 
The good news for Garton is that the boxing is just around the corner and, on the horizon, is his biggest opportunity in the ring to date. Garton is fighting December 5th at York Hall on the Goodwin Promotions show 'Night of War' in a 6 round fight with Casey Blair of Northern Ireland but this is only the taster, the starter, for what 2016 has in store.  Last time we spoke with Johnny (read it here )  he had vacated the Southern Area title in pursuit of bigger goals.  It is in 2016 that Garton gets the chance to fight for the English welterweight title, a title shot earned by his last outing in earlier this year when he stopped the experienced Martin Welsh (12-5-1). It was a fight that didn't go entirely to plan for Garton as he tells me:
 
"I won the final eliminator for the English title against Martin Welsh who I stopped in the sixth round in September. There were a few bits I shouldn't have done and he put it on me, we ended up having a bit of a fight and I enjoyed it! I could have boxed and made it neater and easier but I was enjoying the fight. That's how I got the nickname of The Pexican as I like to come forward and have a go, so it suited me." For Garton his style and mindset are suited to the type of bout he had with Welsh, which turned into a shortened war of attrition, neither willing to step back and being settles by the bigger punches of Garton. Although he was happy with the win, and seemingly enjoyed the fight catching fire, how did that sit with the team around him? "My coach Alan did say to me after I could have boxed a bit more, worked off the jab but that's what we needed to do, stick it on Martin and have a fight. Towards the end of the fourth he was really starting to tire and the body shots had taken it out of him so it was just a case of keeping it on him really."
 
With the eliminator won, Garton is now next in line to fight it out for the belt once a winner has been decided between Adam Little, the current title holder, and his challenger Steve Pearce. In the meantime he describes the December bout as "ticking over", Garton is keen to ensure that ring rust doesn't set in before the most important fight of his career. Blair provides an ideal opponent, someone who has never been stopped and equally never stopped an opponent, he presents enough of a challenge to take Garton through the rounds with minimal risk involved in the fight before the title match up. So with Adam Little and Steve Pearch also fighting in December, has Garton scouted out the current champion and challenger, and does he have a preference in opponent? 
 
"I don't know much about Adam to be honest, but I know he's defending the title against Steve Pearce on 12th December and I get the winner in the new year. I've got my own six rounder and then get Christmas and the new year out of the way, then fight for the title in February or March, as early as possible. I'm not really fussed which one it is; I'm just bothered about fighting for the belt so whichever it is that's fine." With all of the last seven fights for Garton having been at York Hall in London, does he see it as an important factor that the title fight be staged there? "It's always good at York Hall, it's like my home from home now, but if I have to travel for it then that's what I have to do. Once you're in the gym it doesn't matter where you are, you just have to do a job and win." 
The welterweight scene in the UK is strong at present. At the very top sit Kell Brook and Amir Khan, sharing a pedestal but seemingly unwilling to fight over it. Underneath that there is the promising Sam Eggington who currently holds both the British and Commonwealth titles as well as the more experienced world title challenger Frankie Gavin. There is former Gavin opponent Bradley Skeete as well as former Commonwealth champion John O'Donnell who is making his own comeback and also fighting on the December 5th card. Looking ahead for Garton, if he can snatch possession of the English title in 2016 does he see his path could lead to these names in the division?
 
"Yeah, I definitely want Eggington" he says. That's not a huge surprise to hear, as the only loss on Garton's record is a TKO defeat to the Birmingham fighter when Garton was stopped in the second round after a clash of heads caused a nasty injury in April 2014 in the shortened boxing format of Prizefighter, where Egginton himself would go on to lose to Johnny Coyle in the next round. Eggington has proven himself a more established fighter since that clash though, his career hitting a trajectory where he recently claimed his first significant silverware this year in establishing himself as both British and Commonwealth champion. He defended both in October against Welshman Dale Evans, so what does Garton think to a rematch and how did he rate Eggington when in his most recent outing against Evans? "Sam beat me in Prizefighter so I would like to see what he's like in a real fight and he holds that British title. Everyone wants to win that. I'm happy to fight anyone, it doesn't really bother me to be honest. Everyone is after Eggington I suppose. Evans can punch and I think that fight showed Sam's fitness."

There is one welterweight that Garton rules out fighting though, the aforementioned Bradley Skeete. The two are gym mates and Garton speaks highly of Skeete ("he punches a lot harder than people realise"). Instead his focus for now is making the most of the opportunity in from of him in 2016. So will it be hard not to lose focus over the festive period for the Londoner? No, "I'm always in the gym and my trainer Alan will have me in there Christmas Eve working no doubt. I only enjoy my food, I don't really drink so once new year is out of the way I'll be back in the gym getting ready for that fight."

It is a sacrifice that top level sportsmen and women have to make, giving up the excesses that others indulge upon over Christmas and new year. However for Garton there is a greater good, a focus on what the potential prize is as the new year approaches. Short term pain, long term gain is a reasonable assertion for the London fighter. And unfortunately for him, there are some more elaborate ring walks and glitzy videos to come in 2016.