Brian Minto

Brian Minto
For some fighters, taking on matches at short notice is part and parcel of their careers.  Some make a living from it, the ability  help promoters put on shows that would otherwise fall through.  Brian Minto isn't one of these fighters - so it came as a surprise when his name was announced at ten days notice to take on unbeaten English heavyweight Dillian Whyte this Saturday night at the O2.
Minto is a man who has had a fine career and continues to do so.  Far from the journeyman type fighter who would typically step in last minute, Minto holds a record of 41 wins with 9 losses.  He fights out of Pennsylvania in the USA and has held the WBC Americas cruiserweight title, as well as having fought Marco Huck for the WBO cruiserweight title in 2010.  So this is a peculiar situation for the American, heading over the Atlantic to face an opponent that although we in Britain may be getting more familiar with, is not a household name in the States.  So how much has Minto seen of the man that once beat Anthony Joshua in the amateurs?
"Not much!!  I first heard of him four weeks ago."  Thankfully in this day and age fighters can utilise the world of YouTube to find out about opponents.  But with the fight being at short notice are there logistical issues when a fighter only gets 10 days notice?
"Eddie contacted me to see if we could do a deal, which we did.  I will head over late Monday night - jet lag can always be an issue but I feel I'll be ok".  It won't be his first trip to these shores, Minto came over in 2013 to take part in a Prizefighter tournament at York Hall.  The shortened format of fights is not one that suited his championship experience and he lost in the semi finals - if that wasn't the best of Brian Minto, what can British fight fans expect to see come Saturday?  "They can expect the tough undersized heavy to give great effort on short notice" is Minto's response.  

He may be underplaying his chances, and who can blame him?  There is a lot that is unfamiliar for Minto in this fight.  A career cruiserweight (who has made occassional forays into the heavyweight division), taking on a fighter he knows little about in a place that he has only fought once at very short notice.  But all of these occurences don't mean that you should write off the chances of the American fighter.  
He may not be pubicly backing himself too loudly, but this isn't the first time that Minto has stepped in the ring as an underdog against a heavily fancied favourite.  It may be going back ten year, but Minto will look to channel the energy and experience of 2005 when he scored a knockout victory over Vinny Maddalone, who at the time stood with a record of 25 wins with only 2 losses.  Can he rekindle that form at the O2 in front of a likely hostile British crowd?
"You always have a chance to put the brakes on for anyone when lacing up! There is always an opportunity to take someones spot and elevate yourself. I always remember being the underdog against Vinny Maddalone  - I came back to KO him in the last round 2004!!!"

Being the away fighter won't be a new experience for Minto.  He has fought in Germany, Poland and recently has had a number of fights in New Zealand.  "I think the British people enjoy anyone who puts a great effort in" he tells me.  That is certainly something he is planning on when he steps between the ropes.  Is it a concern that he is stepping out of the cruiserweight division for this fight, and how will that change his approach to his weight for Saturday?

"My speed will be carried over from cruiserweight to heavyweight.  I'm coming to the ring the weight I hydrate to at cruiserweight."  It may make Minto a more comfortable fighter come fight night - no struggles to remove the last pounds and ounces before stepping on the scales, his ability to eat and hydrate as he chooses may provide him more energy and power than he is able to carry at the lower weight division.

The show on Saturday night is dubbed 'Collision Course' and is seen as the last fight for both Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua before they meet in December.  That of course is reliant on Joshua overcoming Gary Cornish and Whyte getting past the experienced American.  It may not be ideal circumstances for Minto, but he promises to come and provide a stern test for Whyte that he hasn't faced before.

Before I leave Minto, I wanted to gauge his thoughts on another British heavyweight who is looking to achieve big things, Tyson Fury.  Does the American believe that Fury has a chance against Klitschko in October?  "Yeah, I give Tyson a real chance.  He's a tall rangy fighter like Wladimir, he could do it."

Supporting a British challenger is one way to endear himself to the British fans - if it goes Minto's way on Saturday night he might have a few more that he needs to win over after the fight.