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Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 18:12 UK

Big-fight hope Lockett's rocket

Gary Lockett trains with coach Enzo Calzaghe

By Peter Shuttleworth

It has been his chosen pastime for 23 years but world title challenger Gary Lockett still doesn't like boxing.

Even if the erudite Welshman shocks Kelly Pavlik - and the world - by claiming the world middleweight crown in the early hours of Sunday morning, he would have still preferred a night in with the family.

"Boxing is full of crooks and people that want to hit you in the pocket," 'The Rocket Man' Lockett told BBC Sport.

"On more than one occasion I've felt like quitting but I'm not bad at boxing and I only keep going for the money.

Gary Lockett
Name: Gary Lockett
Born: 25 November, 1976 in Pontypool
Nickname: The Rocket Man
Family: Wife Catherine and son Jac
Favourite teams: Llanelli Scarlets and Liverpool
"I am not in love with boxing, I prefer rugby and football, and I do find it very hard to pluck up the effort to go to the gym as I'd rather be at home playing with my son.

"I've struggled with motivation, previously struggled with dodgy promoters and struggled with injuries.

"Even as recent as nine months ago I felt like packing it in because the Welsh boys like Enzo Maccarinelli, Gavin Rees and Bradley Pryce were getting on the Welsh bills and I was continually ignored.

"I don't know why I was overlooked as I've a good record.

"But I've ticked over and when a dream fight like Pavlik lands in your lap, you get the feeling the sporting gods have changed their mind about you and now is the time I must deliver."

The boxing fraternity believe Lockett is a lamb to the slaughter in Pavlik's first and mandatory defence against Pavlik, a fighter who the 31-year-old challenger hails as 'The American Dream.'

"The only reason I box is because when I get in the ring people hit the deck," said Lockett, now coached at the renowned Calzaghe fight academy in the South Wales valleys.

"I've always been a big puncher ever since my dad Stephen took me to Coed Eva gym in Cwmbran when I was eight.

"He wanted to bestow some discipline in me and teach me how to look after myself in case I ever got bullied.

"I didn't quit because whenever I fought, the other guy's lights went out.

Hilary Clinton and Kelly Pavlik
Kelly Pavlik is the epitome of The American Dream
World title challenger Gary Lockett

"When I was 14 or 15, I remember my dad wouldn't give me my pocket money unless I did my stint down the gym."

"I didn't mind because my dad is my hero; he's the most hard working I've met, he works six days a week religiously and every Sunday, on his day off, he drinks 15 pots of tea."

But Lockett concedes unbeaten Pavlik is in a different league - yet so is Lockett's payday.

The astute businessman's take home will quadruple to approximately 120,000 for fighting Pavlik live on lucrative prime time American TV in Atlantic City.

"Kelly Pavlik is the epitome of The American Dream," says Lockett.

"He's white, from a working-class background, down-to-earth and humble who beats up loudmouths."

Lockett is anything but a trash-talker.

But he does love trashing opponents. Of Lockett's 30 victories since his professional debut in September 1996, 21 have been by way of knock-out.

"You can't beat the feeling of dropping someone," he admits.

The solitary blemish on Lockett's record is a split decision defeat by Belarusian Yuri Tsarenko in a WBO Inter-Continental light middleweight title in April 2002.

That defeat made Lockett seriously consider his future outside of the ring.

Since then he has started a property developing company, a personal training business and is a distributor of sports supplements.

"Losing to Tsarenko hurt me in more ways than one," he admits. "But in hindsight, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise as it made me consider my options outside the ring.

"Obviously defeats dent your confidence and you think my boxing career is over so I needed to think of how I'd support my family in the long-term.

"So I started investing in property in and I took my personal training qualifications. I'm not a dull boy, I've a good head on my shoulders."

So if Lockett is so bright, why does he get hit for a living?

"It's easy money," he replied. "I'm a businessman first, a fighter second."

Pavlik v Lockett tale of the tape

see also
Lockett gains sweet revenge
08 May 03 |  Boxing
Wales' greatest US fight nights
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing
Wales' boxing world champions
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing

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