Boxing Snippets

Razor-sharp Roarke ready for his biggest night

Roarke Knapp is at that stage of big-fight preparation where the action can’t come fast enough.

Training has been exhausting. His body is tired. But the thrill of the chase, the belt at stake, is what will pull him through the coming days ahead of his IBO junior-middleweight showdown against Jorge Garcia Perez.

“It’s been long, I’m not gonna lie,” he said from his Edenvale base. “It’s not easy, but these are the sacrifices you must make. Golden Gloves has given me a big opportunity, and I must take it.”

He’ll spend the coming days ahead of June 15 by staying fast and loose. Sparring is done, and so is the hard grind.

“I don’t need injuries at this point. You dance with fate, you must keep the engine firing.”

Unusually, Knapp hasn’t watched a single second of the Mexican on video. He never does research his opponents. It’s not his style and he prefers to trust his team, led by Vusi Mtolo, to do the homework and draft the strategy.

He also has enormous faith in his own ability. “If I must box, I can box. If I must punch, I can punch. Vusi says the same. Perez isn’t the first tough guy or the first Mexican I’m fighting.”

After eight years of hard work, he sees the prospects of the IBO title as a major step towards providing for his family. Not only will it fatten his pay cheque, the title could put him in the conversation with other elite junior-middleweights like Sebastian Fundora, Serhii Bohachuk and Erickson Lubin.

“This has come at the right time and I’m ready,” he said. “Looking after my family means everything. The IBO title will allow me to make some noise and justify the many hard days.”

He isn’t a firm believer in motivation or mind games. “Some days you feel it, some you don’t. That’s part of the game. I rely on discipline and dedication, not motivation. My incentive is to provide for my family, As a man you must take care of business. I want to become world champion.”

Happily, the hand injury that put the kibosh on his big fight against the UK’s Josh Kelly last year is a thing of the past. Knapp says it healed so well it feels stronger than ever. It even gave him the sense of extending his longevity.

He says his sharpness is back, too, thanks in no small part to stablemate Shervantaigh Koopman, who has given him world-class sparring.

“He’s a great person and a cracking fighter,” says Knapp of his fellow junior-middleweight. “He keeps me sharp and accountable. Iron sharpens iron and having done many, many rounds, we’re both good to go.”

Despite being immersed in the fight game, Knapp professes to not watching too much boxing. If he does, he favours the fighters from the past, checking in on the heroics of Arturo Gatti, Mickey Ward, Johnny Tapia, Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao.

“That’s where my love of boxing lies,” he says.

Although he takes his sport seriously, he’s not an obsessive, so downtime is generally spent with family or his girlfriend. He likes going for walks and having quiet coffees, activities that allow him to shut the noise out.

As he will as June 15 approaches. He says he will dial in a bit more, and get a little quieter. The intensity of training will drop as rest and recovery become more important.

“It will be as if the blinkers come on. I trust the camp I’ve had. It will be a big night. It will also be a great night.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button