Billy Bird ready to take chance in ‘massive’ fight for Southern Area title
PUBLISHED: 15:41 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:16 28 February 2018
Boxer Billy Bird fights for the Southern Area super-welterweight title this weekend, with a win putting him in line for a shot at the English belt. Alex Moss went to meet him and his team.
“You’re ready to fight, it’s as simple as that,” Graham Everett says as his fighter goes through the final rounds of sparring.
Braintree’s Billy Bird (16-1) will get his first shot at the Southern Area super welterweight title this weekend, when he takes on defending champion Matt McCarthy (18-1), from Tilbury, at the Brentwood Centre.
The all-Essex clash on Saturday was also recently made a final eliminator for the English belt, so the stakes could not be higher for the former Sudbury Boxing Club member, ahead of what will be the biggest fight of his professional career to date.
Everett, along with Jon Thaxton, have trained Bird ever since he turned professional back in 2013. And here at Pro Box Norwich, which doubles up as the base of Norwich Lads ABC, the duo both believe this weekend’s fight will be the start of big things for Bird.
“I’m confident and the thing is, I’m happy, he’s happy, a happy team is a performing team and come Saturday he’s going to perform,” said Thaxton, a former European and British lightweight champion.
“This is a massive fight and is a step to the next level and the next level, so we can’t afford any mistakes.
“If it did go wrong, you’ve got to come back, of course we will, but I don’t envisage that happening. I see us going forward and forward.”
Bird, now 24, won his first 10 fights as a professional before losing, to date for the only time, in a points defeat to Mike Byles at the York Hall, in Bethnal Green, in 2015.
Bird responded with a six-fight winning streak, the fourth of those victories coming in a points win over Evaldas Korsakas in his hometown in Braintree in May of 2016.
A 16-month lay-off through injuries and late call-offs then followed before Bird came back with two wins over Sonny Whiting and Ashley Bailey Dumetz in the final months of last year.
It was a testing time for Bird on the sidelines, in which he questioned whether he would ever fulfil his dream of winning titles such as the Southern Area strap, which he will hope to get his hands on this weekend.
“This time last year I wasn’t in a good place,” he reveals. “I was thinking: ‘was that me done in boxing?’
“With the injuries I had it wasn’t great, but now that seems a long distance away. If someone said to me this time last year this is where I’m going to be, I wouldn’t have believed them.
“But I’m a strong believer that things happen for a reason. It’s my time and come Saturday night I’ll be more than ready to go and bring that belt back.
“I feel like I deserve it and I’m going to repay the favour to everyone who has helped me along the way and through this training camp.”
Bird’s opponent, McCarthy, also 24, comes into the bout on a nine-fight winning streak, with the last of those victories a fifth-round TKO of Tony Milch to claim the vacant Southern Area belt last October.
“It’s a great fight, it’s a big fight, Matt McCarthy is a good fighter and someone I’ve got a lot of respect for,” Everett said.
“It’s a really good Essex battle and may the best man win. Billy’s worked really hard, he’s got a great supportive family and everything is in place for us to move forward.
“Billy’s adapted himself to preparation for a championship fight really well. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and possibly more.
“He’s on a really good weight and has sparred lots and lots of rounds, he’s ready.”
Bird and McCarthy’s title bout headlines MTK Global’s ‘High Stakes’ fight night, with the action to be broadcast live on IFL TV’s YouTube channel.
Some tickets are still available, call 07826 238286 for more information.