Tyler Goodjohn

If it is true that respect is earned and not given, it is fair to say that Tyler Goodjohn has spent his fighting years establishing a substantial amount of credit in the department.  Wins, losses, wars, titles, ups and downs; they are all the individual components of a man who at still only 25 years of age is on the cusp of a second English title.  As always with Goodjohn, he’s doing it the hard way.

September 17th at York Hall on a Goodwin Boxing card sees the man from Ely in Cambridgeshire take on English welterweight champion Johnny Garton as Goodjohn looks to claim the belt at a second weight, having previously won the light welterweight version back in 2014.  Garton is a formidable opponent, picking up the title himself back in May of this year with a thunderous knockout of Ryan Fields at the same venue.  With both men known for providing exciting fights, it was the challenge itself that drew Goodjohn to sign the paperwork.

“It’s going to be a tough fight” he tells me.  “I knew when we were meant to have it in March that it would be a really tough fight, but that’s what drew me to the fight anyway even if there wasn’t an English title on the line.  We’re both fighters that want to entertain.”

March was significant.  It was when this fight was first scheduled for the vacant title, but in the training camp Goodjohn suffered a break in his hand, forcing him not just to postpone but to cancel.  It was the trigger for a lot of soul searching, the consideration of whether he could carry on in the sport.  His initial reaction was ‘no’ – but time heals all wounds, not just hands. 

“It was a reaction.  Financially it left me down in the dumps – I was expecting my first baby and spent about three grand on the camp.  To not make any money back was a killer, I’d stopped work as well to train for the camp.  I then couldn’t work after for six weeks because I had broken my hand!  My head was all over the place, I had a lot going on with the baby coming and getting myself financially right again.”  All of these factors lead to a retirement announcement, something that on social media was met with sadness from friends, fans and family who all felt ‘El Tornado’ had more to offer the sport.

“I’m proud of myself to be honest” Goodjohn says.  “I had a couple of weeks when I was really down in the dumps about it all.  But then I remember as soon as I got my cast taken off I was straight back in the gym, doing pads with one hand and doing weight training even though I shouldn’t have been doing that at all.  I was out running and thought ‘ this could go two ways; I can go out and drink, eat and feel sorry for myself or I can get back in the gym and hope the fight comes up again.  Johnny won his title fight and I put it out there that there was only one fight that makes sense, that’s between me and Johnny.  To be fair to him he is a gentleman and a proper fighter, he wanted it.  It’s gone from there; it was a great fight earlier in the year and it’s an even better one now.  There’s a better story, he’s the Champion now which inspires me even more.”

Goodjohn was straight back into the mix.  No tune up fights, he hasn’t been in the ring since December 2015 and is aware that this sort of challenge is the type that will bring the best out of him.  As he acknowledges, easy fights don’t encourage a boxer of his ilk.  “I had the fight last December (against Igo Gogosevic) where I was expected to win in a six rounder and it didn’t inspire me at all.  I got out the ring and didn’t feel I have the buzz like in previous fights.  I was expected to win, I was bored when I was in there to tell the truth.  The guy didn’t want a fight and didn’t want to know; I got out and went to the changing rooms and wasn’t sure I had it in my heart to box any more.  It’s when my back is against the ropes and I’m in hard fights; that’s where I’m meant to be and that’s when I enjoy it.”

The bout with Gogosevic was the first step into the welterweight division for Goodjohn who had previously campaigned at light welterweight.  He reflects back on his time at the 140lbs weight limit as if it is a mystery even to himself how he boiled down to the division.

“When I fought (John-Wayne) Hibbert, which was my last fight at light welterweight, I had to lose ten pounds the night before.  I’ve been a welterweight for years anyway but I’ve just boiled down to get to light welter as that’s where the fights and the money were at.  You did what you had to do to make ten stones.  I realised after that fight that no matter how big the fights are or if they’re on TV, I just can’t make ten stones and I was cheating myself.  Training for twelve weeks and then getting in the ring but not being able to do what I’ve been training to do because I was so drained for the fight, it broke my heart a bit.  Being up at welterweight now, I think people will be surprised at the shape I’ll come in.  I’m not small for a welterweight and don’t even make that easy!  Obviously Garton is a big lad for welterweight and he has the experience at the weight, but it won’t be the big difference most people think.  That was just the way it was, but when you had the opportunity to fight on Sky Sports you do whatever you can to make that weight.  Now I get the chance to show what I can really do and not being a shell of myself.”

With the additional seven pounds comes the obvious risk of bigger punches coming back you way as well as the damage you can dish out.  With the Garton left hook KO of Ryan Fields still fresh in the memory, is it a concern for Goodjohn as he looks to bring the English title back to Ely?  “His win over Fields was a great knockout and I’m not going to stand here and say he can’t punch, he clearly can.  But if I was worried about being knocked out I wouldn’t be boxing!  It doesn’t worry me at all.  When you know you’re in with a strong guy it bring the best out of you, you can’t be slack.  Then this fight came up with Johnny and it changed it all.”

It isn’t only his career that has changed and taken a new path – his private life has taken a change for the better too.  This year Tyler and his partner welcomed their first child into the world, baby Orlah.  How has having a new addition to the family impacted on preparations?  “This camp, I’ve had it all to do!  I’ve had to work, look after Orlah, train two or three times a day.  But do you know what, you get on with it.  You have no choice, you have to do it.  It boils down to how much you want it and I’ve proven to myself how much I want it in this camp.  I’ve been travelling to London, Essex, Birmingham.  I’m off to Norwich tomorrow.  I’ve done everything I can, I’m not nervous or scared because I have done everything I can so now I’m just looking forwards to the fight.”
  
It isn’t a journey he can take alone, and Goodjohn has nothing but praise for the lady in his life who provides the support he requires.  “She got put through it when I was making welterweight so I know she will stand by me from when I was making that weight!  She’s been brilliant, she’s taken it on well and wants to see me do what I love.  She knows how much it affected me after I broke my hand and how it upset me, so to get that second track is great for both of us.”

On top of fight preparations and a new born child, there is also the small issue of his own gym for Tyler to keep running, the Warrior’s Workshop.  “It’s going brilliant.  It’s one of them where it’s gone so well that I’ve had to take a step back while in camp and sacrifice it a little bit.  I’m looking forward to after the fight and stepping back to it, I’ve had so many people wanting to start up that it’s great.  I have something now to fall back on.  I was a full time professional before when I was in Essex and I was taking hard fights as I needed the money to live.  Now I have the job to fall back on and although I’m still jumping into hard fights, I can do it on my terms now and at my weight.  I enjoy it and I get to give some of my experience back and can help people stay away from my mistakes!”

One mistake that Goodjohn is keen not to repeat is one that he says is pointed out by others close to him; his tendency to get ahead of himself.  He says it is something that, if he is successful on September 17th, he is keep to ensure doesn’t happen again.  “I’ve got to get through this fight, it won’t be easy at all.  But to be a two weight English champion will be an amazing feeling then we can see where to go from there.  The one thing I’ve always done, my mum and dad and others always say it to me; I rush myself.  Even when I won the English title before, I rushed myself to a massive fight straight away.  Sometimes you need to know when to pull yourself back a little bit and enjoy the moment.  I’ve always been too eager to step up and do better straight away.  I just need to focus on this fight and enjoy it then see where we go from there.”

With the focus fully on September 17th as the headline to the Goodwin Boxing ‘Lethal Combination’ show and a fight that has the ingredients of a small hall classic, the added spice for the fight is that both men carry a vociferous following which promises to make the balcony of York Hall shake to its 90 year old rafters.  “It’s going to be mental” says Goodjohn excitedly.  “I’ve sold a lot of tickets for this fight and I know Johnny will sell a lot too.  It’ll be a crazy atmosphere, I have no doubt about that.  Both our supporters can look forward to a great fight, there’s no bad mouthing needed or anything like that.”
There is no doubt that a mutual respect underlines this fight.  There have been no crossed words nor bad blood between the two and instead points to his own history with a former opponent to show how a war in the ring doesn’t necessarily mean a hatred outside of it. 

“Me and Johnny are respectful, I like him and he’s a good guy.  He messaged me when my baby was born; he didn’t have to do that.  This is a business thing, we’re both fighters who do out talking in the ring and we’ll shake hands after.  I’ve had three fights with Danny Connor – we were bad mouthing each other quite a bit in the build up to the fights.  Now, we’re like best mates!  I’m going on his stag do, I’ll be at his wedding.  We’re great mates and always speaking.  When you’ve spent ten rounds trying to tear each other’s heads off, it’s amazing the amount of respect you have for each other afterwards!”
Come September 18th, it will all be over.  The dust will have settled and Goodjohn will know whether he has become a two weight English champion, he can plan his next steps in the sport.  Until then though is the anticipation, the worst part of a build up for a fighter.  Don’t expect crossed words though or tantrums at press conferences and weigh-ins between these two.  They have been dignified throughout, gentlemen of the sport.  It is more respect to add to Goodjohn’s ever growing reserves.

Tyler wished to thank the sponsors who are so important in supporting his career and training camps.  These are DM Roofing, TM Roofing and Ashco Building and Maintenance – all of whom play a huge part in helping Tyler’s progress.