Debutant Watch - Stephen Shields
Author:  Jon Briggs

The latest edition of Debutant Watch visits Milton Keynes to feature super-welterweight hopeful Stephen Shields. Fighting out of Matt Skelton’s Gym in Bedford, 28 year old Stephen turns professional under the tutelage of Coach Steve Hubble and manager / promoter Mervyn Turner. Stephen is backed by years of fighting experience that has seen him fighting in the amateurs and a successful spell on the un-licenced scene.

Stephen will take his first steps through the ropes as a professional fighter on Sunday 18th February at the Corn Exchange in Bedford. He has been matched against Norwich’s Duane Green in a four round contest.
What made you want to start boxing?

“I started when I was fourteen. My brother was training at Northampton amateur boxing club and I used to go along to keep my mum company while he was training. I was quite a shy and timid kid at that age so decided I would start training to give myself some confidence. It was a really tough gym at Northampton and after I started doing some sparring I was hooked and it just kicked on from there.”
Did you have a boxing idol when you were younger?
“My all-time favourite fighter is Roy Jones Jr. He was untouchable is his prime. I loved his style especially the low left hand and his reactions were amazing. He proved himself when he jumped up to heavyweight and boxed John Ruiz’s head off.”
Did you do much amateur boxing?
“I started at Northampton amateur boxing club. I have moved around a few clubs including Repton in London as well as two clubs in Milton Keynes -  MK Victors and MK Academy. I also fought for Bedford ABC.
“I had 36 amateur fights, boxed for the Home Counties three times and captained them against the Scottish team. I have also spent some time on the un-licenced scene fighting under the Queensbury Boxing league banner and I won a British title on the UKBU stage in London.”

Do you feel the time is right to turn professional?
“Yeah. I have got to an age now where I’m thinking I don’t want to wake up in ten years’ time wishing I had turned professional. I have fourteen years’ experience in boxing, I have fought and sparred some top kids so I feel it’s the right time to go pro now.
“Fighting on the un-licenced scene has given me the confidence I need fighting longer distance fights like you do in the pro game.”
Do you see a difference between amateur and professional boxing?
“I see a lot of differences. Firstly I have been developing my strength a lot ready for my debut. My training has doubled since I signed to turn pro and the whole diet and nutrition part of pro boxing is so important.
“As an amateur you’re up on your toes pushing out punches, now I am learning to stand my ground and put everything into my shots.”
Do you work full-time alongside boxing?
“I work full time at a Virgin Money bank. I work there Monday to Friday and get some runs done in the morning and do all my boxing training and sparring during the evening. It’s tough trying to juggle the two and can be stressful at times. I am lucky to be sponsored by South West Bro Workout, Watchtower Security and SGK Boxing Academy which has been a huge help to me in the build up to my debut.”
What sort of fighting style will you have in the pro game?
“As an amateur boxer I was very much on the back foot but I have changed my style to be more of a pressure fighter. I will be looking to push forward and bury in my big shots.”
What ambitions / expectations do you have for your professional career?
“I will be taking it one fight at a time and I don’t want to jump the gun to much at this stage of my career. I want to keep winning, learning and gaining experience so when the time comes to challenge for titles I know I am ready for it. The level I have been boxing at to date I feel like I can get to southern area level quite quickly. If the chances come I intend to take them with both hands.”