By Shaun Brown
Last Saturday night (December 2) Jordan Gill defeated Michael Conlan emphatically in Belfast. However, had it not been for the help of a friend, Gill may not have been here at all.
Speaking to Boxing News, the 29-year-old looked back at his recent win, as well as his heartfelt post-fight interview, and opened up about one of the lowest moments in his life.
BN: How are your lumps and bumps after your fight against Michael Conlan on Saturday?
JG: Nothing too heavy. I’ve been a lot worse in the past. Being up at 130[lbs] makes it a little bit easier to make the weight and I think when you’re not as gaunt in the face you don’t get as marked up, so I don’t think I took too many clean [punches]. I feel all right.
BN: How much did it help moving to super-featherweight and being able to add on those extra pounds?
JG: It made the world of difference. I said during fight week, “Looking back I should’ve moved up two or three years ago minimum.” I can still make 130 but I’m a bit too dead, miserable and my punch resistance isn’t there. At 130 I feel sturdy, I can push people about and land [punches] with intent.
BN: Did the fight play out as you expected?
JG: He had a new trainer, but I knew Mick is Mick and at 32 years old you’re not going to change too much. I knew he’d be skating around, but I expected a bit more resistance. We got the job done.
BN: He was fighting at super-featherweight for the first time. How did his punch power feel?
JG: He never once troubled me; not even the body shots he was landing. I was soaking them up and it didn’t take anything out of me at all. With the crowd behind him, cheering him when he’s landing on the gloves, I expected him to go harder. I knew because he’s inefficient with his work it would tire him out. It was just a matter of waiting. I hurt him early in the fight anyway, so I knew I’d get him again.
BN: Going into the fight did you think to yourself that if you lost your career was over?
JG: Yeah, 100 per cent.
BN: How did you cope with that then?
JG: It took the pressure off really. With this [new] gym [opening] and a couple of other businesses running, I don’t need to box. I do it because I enjoy it. The opportunity come up and it was a no-brainer. I didn’t feel any pressure at all. He had the crowd. No-one expected me to win. I thought fuck it let’s have it. Last dance.
BN: How did the idea of opening your own gym Box Cross come about?
JG: A friend of mine who’s been a long-time sponsor showed interest in opening a gym nearby, quite local. He had a little setup in his garden, and it was getting a bit too busy. The council wanted to shut him down, so he showed interest in opening his own gym up and I said, “Why don’t I come in as a partner?” I’ve got a name in the local area, and I thought it’d be a good investment opportunity [and I] had a little bit of money laying around. Me, him and his business partner have all gone in, so it splits three ways equally. I’m really excited. It’s a massive unit. We’ve done it out so it’s the most Instagrammable place. Got the rings, got the bags, cross-fit section, weights section, all machines, all state-of-the-art, brand-new stuff.
BN: Do you hope to open more gyms in the future or is this a one-off?
JG: We want to get it all over the place and have a chain going. I think Peterborough is the next step probably next year.
BN: You gave a very revealing and honest post-fight interview in the ring. Did you expect to say what you did or did the words just pop out?
JG: It just automatically popped out. Nothing was prepared or rehearsed. I said what was on my mind; I wanted people to resonate with it and understand. When you’re given a platform, I think it’s important to prove to people that you’re human. You’ve got two arms and two legs, you have your doubts and your bad days like anyone else. Hopefully, it resonated with people. I’ve had a lot of messages saying, “You inspired me.” You know what men are like; men don’t talk; we just crack on and get on with it. In the summer I was on the brink. To turn my life around the way I have… if I can do it, anyone can.
BN: The moment you spoke about, when you were in a field during the summer drinking a litre of vodka, was all of it completely out of character?
JG: Yeah, I’d never drank in my life until I was 28 years old. Until 2023 I’d never touched alcohol. I’d make a good Muslim, but I love a bacon sandwich. I hit rock bottom really.
BN: What was it that stopped you from ending your life?
JG: There was a girl I was seeing at the time. I’d split up with my wife. The girl I was seeing at the time, and who’s a friend, had my location saved on her phone. She came and saved me. It wasn’t nothing that stopped me. She came and saved me. My mind was made up; that’s what I was going to do that day.
BN: You described the Conlan fight as a potential “last dance”. Winning means an extension to your career. So, next year is it all about even more big fights?
JG: That’s it. You get into boxing to become a world champion. The career I’ve had – Commonwealth, European, three WBA International belts and up at a new weight – I feel like it’d be an injustice if I didn’t fight for a world title in my career. All I want is a world title shot.