BN: How was getting back in the ring, after 17 months of inactivity in which your career was in doubt?

CB: It was good being back. There was a lot of demons that I had to put to bed Saturday night. It was more mental than anything else. It’s been a way of living – demons I’ve been carrying around with me for months. Doubts. Self-doubts. Not knowing if I was ever going to fight again or get in the ring again. Mentally, what I’ve had to come back from – would I be the same? Has it had its toll? This has been really detrimental to my health and mental health; it’s been really traumatic, what I went through. How did I know if I’d be the same fighter? You have to do it in sparring, but under the lights it’s a completely different game. Has my relationship and outlook changed on the sport? There was so many different things going through my mind. It was more an internal battle, rather than pressure on myself to look good for the public – in terms of proving them wrong. It was thoughts I’d built up during the period I’d had out.

I felt spiteful. I felt calculated. I felt disciplined in there. I felt strong. I felt explosive. I done what I needed to do in there – saw 10 rounds out; no signs of ring rust. I done what I needed to do.

It was a very different feeling [to approaching my last fight]. You’ve gotta remember I was preparing for one of the biggest fights of the decade [against Chris Eubank Jnr]; was on a massive welterweight hunt before that, beating [Chris] van Heerden, [Chris] Algieri] in spectacular fashion.  [Rodolfo Orozco] was brought in to be the fight it was, so it’s hard for me to go from preparing for [Eubank Jnr] to fighting a nobody who’s dangerous. He’s the typical Mexican that comes and causes an upset back home. He gave it everything but, for me, mentally, it was a glorified spar. It was going through the motions; getting used to being back in that environment; it was more about that rather than technical ability or speed or power.

Before the fight, [I’d] no nerves at all. Which is really bizarre, I know, but my last three or four fights I’ve had no nerves. I thought this time I’d definitely have nerves, because of everything I’ve been going through. But when you feel like you’ve been born to do something the nerves are different; they’re not necessarily anxiety. The ring walk and the fight I was fine; I was okay. “This is what I’ve been made to do.”

The people I’ve got around me now – there’s been people in my team I’ve had to get rid of; they showed their true colours; give people time and they show what they’re about, especially when you go through adversity like I’ve gone through. People show their true colours and the team of people I have around me now really shows me who’s worth winning with. Me winning with the team I had around me are the people I plan on seeing out my career with.

BN: How did you find the increased weight?

CB: It’s definitely the heaviest I’ve been. He was a middle in there, no doubt – maybe super middle. He was a big lump; 6ft 1ins? The only thing I noticed was he was able to absorb my shots better. My sprint times are all the same; my running times are the same; my sparring times are the same. My sparring quality’s the same, irrelevant of the weight. That’s what I look for. Can I match the same numbers? The same punch output; the same movement? The only difference that’s noticeable is they’re [opponents] able to carry the shots better; absorbs the shot better, and use their weight a lot more if they know what they’re doing.

BN: Were you tested?

CB: Yeah, of course. I’ve been tested loads anyway, throughout this whole time that I’ve had off. I’ve been testing by VADA. I done a test maybe three weeks ago with VADA. I done two urine tests before the fight, and a blood sample after the fight.

Eddie Hearn has already spoken of plans for you to fight Chris Eubank Jnr in December. Do you expect to?

It’s out of my hands. There’s not really much I can do. I can just do the fighting. I let the team handle the rest. I’ve got the best team – the best setup – around me, and they’re fighting my corner. I’m doing the training and putting the work in – I stayed dedicated in this time I’ve had off, as you can clearly tell; there ain’t been no ring rust – so I just do what I do and I trust them to do what they do.

There’s been so many setbacks over the past year. I should have been fighting that guy; I should have been fighting this guy. I should have been fighting there; I should have been fighting here. And something kept getting in the way. Some people just don’t want me to fight. Hopefully this week, now that I’ve fought, we can open discussions with UKAD [UK Anti-Doping] and The [British Boxing] Board [of Control]. “We want to clear this up.” Hopefully them discussions can happen. We just want to end this. I wouldn’t have spent over £500,000 on scientists and lawyers to prove my innocence if I was guilty.

BN: Chris Algieri was removed from the DAZN broadcast team…

CB: Putting it bluntly, I think he’s a sore loser who can’t accept the fact that he got knocked out by someone so inexperienced [in 2021]. I can understand it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but when you play cards like, “I heard rumours…” – of course someone who got knocked out as bad as he got knocked out would say that. Was it fair that he got pulled off? If that was the case – this is the first time I’m hearing this – I wasn’t aware. I believe in karma, and he obviously got what was coming to him, but I would never have any influence of taking him off the show. He’s a great talker. He knows what he’s talking about; he knows the fight game. That’s no influence of mine at all – I didn’t even know he was supposed to be commentating. I don’t really follow his career like that, to be honest.

After it was confirmed that you would fight Rodolfo Orozco, Robert Smith reiterated that his and the British Boxing Board of Control’s stance is that you haven’t yet been cleared of any wrongdoing…

It gets no one nowhere. But I’ll fight this tooth and nail. I’ll spend every penny I’ve ever earned in this boxing game to prove my innocence, no problem, and I stand by that. Money comes and goes, but my name stays – my name remains. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and I’m willing to cooperate. Bearing in mind all the injustice; bearing in mind the way I’ve been treated, I’m still willing to sit down with them. I have nothing to hide.

Your fight meant Jordan Thompson being without Tony Sims for some of his final preparations for Jai Opetaia this weekend…

I’m close with Jordan. He’s an unbelievable fighter. Sometimes it matters, the work you put in when no one’s there watching, and when there’s no one you’re accountable to. Not just when the cameras are on; not just when Tony’s watching; not just when other people are watching. He puts the work in regardless. There’s a hunger in that gym – we don’t dodge training. We don’t pull fast ones. We don’t cut corners. We’re all strong in our work ethic, mindset, determination and discipline. The second thing is there’s a good setup in that gym already; Tony’s got the system on lock in the gym. There’s people in the gym – like Kevin Mitchell; like the other fighters – we all keep each other honest in there. Jordan knows what he’s got to do. He’s an absolute powerhouse. He’s a genetic freak. He’s got athleticism like I ain’t seen before. He knows what he’s got to do; there’s been months and months of drilling and drilling and drilling with Tony and Jordan.

BN: How soon will you take your next move?

CB: Potentially end of the week, [regarding] the end of December. You’ll hear some news for sure – definitely. We’ll have quite a big update – whether that’s the next fight or not. But if not I’ll go back down to 147lbs. [Yordenis] Ugas; [Keith] Thurman; [Mario] Barrios; [Jose] Ramirez; [Josh] Taylor. I want to get that strap around my waist.