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Britain's other world title hope

By Sam Lyon

Wayne Elcock
Elcock has fallen in and out of love with boxing several times in his life
While the boxing world eagerly awaits the Ricky Hatton-Floyd Mayweather super-fight this weekend, under the radar another British boxer will be preparing for his own world title shot.

Wayne "Mad Dog" Elcock faces "King" Arthur Abraham in Switzerland with the German's prestigious IBF middleweight belt at stake.

And victory would cap a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the 33-year-old from Birmingham, despite a record of 18 wins from his 20 bouts to date.

By Elcock's own admission, the fight has been overshadowed by Hatton's Las Vegas showdown, but he is far from bitter.

"Yes, I've been out of the headlines preparing for this fight, but Hatton deserves all the attention he's getting and it really isn't a problem for me," he told BBC Sport.

With many in the game talking about a "Golden Era" for British boxing, Elcock could become the nation's seventh world champion if he triumphs in Basle.

A promising footballer as a kid, Elcock made the difficult decision to pursue a career in the ring and eventually won over his sceptical father as he enjoyed some success on the amateur scene.

It was only the passing of my father that got me back into boxing

Wayne Elcock
Unfortunately, aged just 17, the first cracks started to appear as "wine, women and song" crept into Elcock's lifestyle and boxing began to take a back seat.

"I was having more fights out of the ring than in it," he said. "I went right off the rails, big time."

This was a pattern that continued up until 1995, when he lost his closest friend, Leroy Wright.

The 19-year-old committed suicide, sparking a major turnaround in Elcock's life.

"It would be an understatement to say this shook me to the core," Elcock notes on his official website.

"His words rang through my head day after day as he was always telling me to get my act together and take my boxing seriously."

Despite knuckling down and surprising everyone by reaching the final of the ABA Championships, a controversial defeat to John Pierce led to Elcock turning his back on the sport again.

606: DEBATE

"I felt I had been robbed and I walked away," Elcock told BBC Sport.

It appeared Elcock's talent would be lost to boxing forever, but the death of his father in 1998 followed by a chance encounter with a fellow boxer changed everything.

"It was only the passing of my father that got me back into boxing," said Elcock.

"Then when I was working at BT, a colleague of mine mentioned to Neil Linford that I had mentioned I used to box.

"I'm not sure my mate believed me, everyone gobs off about being able to fight at some point don't they? But Neil had heard about me from the amateur scene and that started it all off again.

"From then on I made the 100-mile round trip to Leicester six days a week, sparring with Neil and compiling a good professional record."

Arthur Abraham
Abraham is unbeaten in 24 fights and has been IBF middleweight champion since December 2005

The hard work paid off and, with boxing enthusiasts beginning to sit up and take notice, Elcock became the first British boxer in 47 fights to beat Howard Eastman on a unanimous points decision in September.

The win not only gave him the British middleweight crown, it also earned him an unexpected world title shot.

And, while Hatton and Mayweather grab the headlines in Las Vegas, Elcock will be striving to become Britain's latest success story.

"After all the ups and downs, it's kind of remarkable where I am now," he said.

"After quitting the sport a few times and the troubles I've had outside the ring, I guess you can call me the 'Cinderella Man'.

"After the Eastman fight it's all kind of snowballed. My preparation has been second to none, I'm feeling stronger and fitter than ever, and I am totally confident for Saturday."

It will be Elcock's biggest challenge to date. The 27-year-old Abraham's unblemished record of 24 wins from 24 fights highlights his ability.

But try telling Elcock he has no chance.

The glitz and glamour don't interest me... I'm just interested in fulfilling a dream

Wayne Elcock

"After my very first pro fight, I had the likes of (boxing commentator) Ian Darke saying I would never make it," he said. "Their words have stuck with me even today.

"Beating Eastman was a big step for me, but winning a world title would shove those words right back down their throats.

"I thrive on being the underdog and being written off. It happened with Eastman and I think it might happen again with Abraham.

"He might only realise what I'm all about and how good I am when it's too late on Saturday night and I'm holding the world IBF title."

Should he emerge victorious, Elcock, ranked 12th by the IBF, plans to bring "big-time boxing" back to Birmingham.

"I'm fiercely proud to be a Brummie and fiercely proud to be British," he said.

"I'm delighted I'll be able to fly the flag in my own small corner of Basle on Saturday and I'll be going all out to win the title.

"The glitz and glamour don't interest me. I'm just interested in fulfilling a dream, showing what I'm all about, and putting myself back on the map."



see also
Elcock earns fight with Abraham
25 Oct 07 |  Boxing
Elcock shatters Eastman's hopes
28 Sep 07 |  Boxing


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