When Kane Salvin and Sufyaan Ahmed meet on December 11 at the Sheffield Arena for the Central Area Super Featherweight Title, not only does it pit two Sheffield fighters with identical 5-0 (0) records against each other – it also sees pupil and master go head-to-head.
As a pro, John Fewkes was trained from start-to-finish of his 21-2-2 (2) career by Glyn Rhodes (pictured together in younger days). Now a trainer with his own gym, Fewkes will corner Ahmed for the upcoming clash, while Rhodes will be just across the ring as head-trainer to Salvin.
Luckily, the pair are great friends, both are jovial characters, and the rivalry ahead of the bout is good-natured. Despite the positive vibes though, both coaches are desperate for their proteges to come out on top, and each is convinced that their man will triumph.
Ahead of the history-making show, the UK’s first ever drive-in boxing show, which is topped by ‘Steel City’ pair Tommy Frank and Kyle Yousaf contesting the British Flyweight Title; Fewkes reveals all on what it will be like to face his former mentor, and why he believes Ahmed will have his glove raised on the night.
Q: On paper Salvin vs Ahmed is a 50-50 fight, are you seeing that way?
A: Yes, definitely. They’re both in the same position, they’re both 5-0, neither have boxed 10 rounds yet, and neither of them have really fought someone yet who’s really coming to win. I truly believe it’s all about who deals with the situation the best – the big occasion, the 10 rounds, and who’s going to deal with the pace.
Q: Kane has much more amateur experience than Sufyaan – how big a factor will that be?
A: Kane’s amateur experience might help him a bit more with the occasion, but amateurs don’t go past three rounds – this is a 10-round fight. It’s a completely different scenario to any of his amateur fights. Kane fought at a good level as an amateur and beat some good kids, but this is a different level. I don’t think either will win within the first three rounds, and after that third round his amateur experience won’t play that much of a part.
Sufyaan has had less amateur experience, but maybe that will play in his favour. If he’s the slight underdog because of that then he will want to train harder, want it more than Kane, and that could be the telling factor.
Q: You know Kane very well as an amateur and a pro – how much do you rate him?
A: I think Kane has the potential to be a top kid, he’s got bags of talent and potentially could go far. But it’s whether he performs on the night, and that’s the difference. That’s not mind games, it’s the truth. I know that Sufi always performs on the night, he’s always there on game-night. The difference is whether Kane is going to turn up and perform, or not.
Q: What is it about Sufyaan that makes you believe he will be victorious on December 11.
A: I’ve never seen his attitude as good. He’s always got a good attitude but as soon as this fight was announced, something switched in him. I’m pushing him an extra level and he just gets on with it. Sufi is a big strong boy with natural power. He’s also very mature, and the 10 rounds is really going to suit him. Against the journeymen he’s turned up and done his job, but this fight has lit a fire in him. It’ll be the same for Kane, and you have to give both lads credit for taking this fight at this time.
Q: It really is a good match up, do you think it will be a good fight to watch?
A: Absolutely. They both are great lads. There are so many fighters out there who just like to tell people they’re a boxer, they get matched easy and then they get in with a decent fighter and get found out. Whoever loses this fight will learn so much more than just being in with – no disrespect – a journeyman. They both deserve a huge amount of credit. It’s not going to be a one-sided fight, they’ll both get their own way at times, and they’ll either dig deep or crumble. Whoever wins will progress and the loser will learn so much and come again … but it won’t be Sufi!
Q: Glyn Rhodes cornered you for your entire career – how does it feel to be going up against him?
A: It’s weird! At first it was very strange but as time’s gone on I’ve started feeling less worried about going up against Glyn and focusing more on pitting my wits against a trainer who, in my opinion, is one of the best trainers in the world. I’m not just saying that because I was with Glyn for 20-odd years, but I’ve watched trainers all over the world and I’ve not seen many better.
Glyn always said I’d be a better trainer than a fighter and I’m absolutely buzzing, not just because its for an Area Title but because I’m getting to go up against ‘Rhodesy’! If Sufi wins, then it means I’m doing alright as a trainer. Me and Glyn keep putting posts on Facebook to each other, and it’s all in good jest because Glyn is like a dad to me, and I love him to bits. I’m glad I’m on his radar though because that means he’s bothered by me a bit.
Q: Glyn is a lively character when he’s in the corner – have you picked up some of his habits?
A: He’s already playing mind games, telling everyone that they need to keep an eye on me in the corner on the night for shouting! All I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt from him – so don’t be putting it on me already so everybody’s looking at me on the night! He’s got a lot of tricks up his sleeve that old sly fox. Look, I love both kids to bits, and it’s going to be brilliant. I want Sufi to win more than anything, but as long as it’s a good fight, both come out safe, and we’re all still going out together the following week, that’s what matters. Although we’re two teams on the night, we’re all one team. I owe so much to Sheffield Boxing Centre, but on the night we’re against each other.
Q: You also know the two main event fighters well – Tommy Frank and Kyle Yousaf – how do you see that fight going?
A: It’s another 50-50 fight. I know Kyle’s had more fights but I believe the main thing that will get Tommy the victory is that he’s had a lot harder fights. I’ve been in the corner for Tommy in his last few fights, and he’s come through some hard ones. That Thai kid [Aran Dipaen] he fought had only had a handful of pro fights but he’d had hundreds of Muay Thai fights. He wasn’t a novice fighter and that fight proved to Tommy he could do 12 hard rounds. His next fight against the Mexican kid [Martin Tecuapetla] was also non-stop, and proved the level he belongs at.
Kyle is a great fighter, and has a great trainer in Grant Smith. He’ll be super confident but I know he won’t be as confident as Tommy. I think it will be a fight of two halves – Kyle will look great for the first few rounds, it won’t be one-sided, but Tommy will take over later in the fight. It will be either a points win probably, or maybe a late stoppage between rounds 10-12.
I also just want to say that Dennis and Steve Crump have taken a massive risk with this show. Not just with their fighters – pitting Tommy against Kyle, and Sufi versus Kane – but just putting this show on. Dennis and Steve have shown so much love for the sport, and wanting their fighters to get work. Dennis has been to the top of the boxing world with Ricky Hatton and Clinton woods, and this is a big statement that he still wants to compete. We need to take our hats off to them for this historic night, and for getting these local kids fights. It’s going to be a brilliant night.
Dennis Hobson Promotions presents an evening of boxing at Sheffield Arena on December 11, headlined by Tommy Frank and Kyle Yousaf contesting the vacant British Flyweight Title.
Chief support sees Kane Salvin and Sufyaan Ahmed fight for the Central Area Super Featherweight belt. Also appearing will be Sheffield’s Perry Howe, Keanen Wainwright and Nathan Owen, Belfast’s Cathy McAleer, and Rotherham’s Kash Ali.
The action will be broadcast live by Eurosport.
For ticket information, call 0114 243 4443.