Liam Dillon’s first defence of his British super-featherweight title will be against Reece Bellotti, a man he once described as his “favourite fighter”. Boxing News recently caught up with Dillon to speak about facing Bellotti tonight (February 10), balancing a job and training, and memories of his “best performance”.
Interview by Shaun Brown
BN: You’ve been British champion for about six months. What has your life been like during that time?
LD: It was quite weird because I remember doing an interview afterwards and someone was like, “You’ve won the British title now. You can quit your job scaffolding.” And I was like, “I haven’t won the lottery!” I went back to work, got married in September. It’s gone really well. I was hoping to get a defence in December but there were some complications on the other side’s team. Then Reece Bellotti had won another British title eliminator and the Commonwealth. They were trying to get me a defence for February, so I was like, “Bellotti’s just fought again. There’s the Commonwealth now and if I’m going to fight anyone in February, I’d rather it be him.” I got the call on January 4 about fighting him on February 10. At first, they told me Newcastle but then it got moved to the O2, which has suited me perfectly.
BN: Did you go back to work the Monday after the fight?
LD: Yeah, I went back on the Monday.
BN: What were all your colleagues saying to you?
LD: They were buzzing. They’ve seen my career from the start. All the hard fights I’ve had, Southern Area, English, Commonwealth title eliminator. I’ve been working there since I turned professional. They’ve seen the bad side of it when I’ve had fights cancelled; opponents pulling out. They were really proud to finally see me on TV fighting for the belt I always wanted. It was a struggle at work. I was really aching that day. I was feeling it in my arms, but I had to go back to work to get the rent paid.
BN: Given the fact you still work, what has camp been like for your fight against Reece Bellotti?
LD: This was the first camp I had where my team sat me down and said, “You’re always fit but we’ve got four weeks.” My team pulled in some sponsors for me and said, “We’ve got to give it everything for the next four weeks.” It’s the first time I’ve taken time off work for training. I’ve got a nutritionist on board telling me what to eat, when to eat. I guess in some ways it’s been the hardest camp in terms of training, but it’s also been the easiest because all I’ve done is train up to three times a day and eat what I’m told. And I haven’t got the pressure of rushing to the gym straight from work and grabbing something on the way; or I’ve got top sparring at 3pm and leaving work and not eating and getting to the gym. It’s been so much easier, and I’ve definitely felt the benefits of it.
BN: For previous fights what would be a normal day for you between work and training?
LD: Normally we’re at the yard about half six (a.m). After work [we’d] normally get back to the yard about half two, then I go straight to the gym from work. Sometimes I’ll do strength and conditioning at Club KO with my strength and conditioning coach. I’ll go straight to RJ’s (Boxing Gym) from there. Some days I come in to my house, if I do two sessions after work, at like eight o’clock at night and I’m shattered. This has been so much easier. I’ve been training three times a day and feel energised. I used to do the runs before work but that’d start to hit me during the day. I’ve really felt the benefits of doing it full-time, but I guess this is the first time I’ve been able to do that.
BN: So, February 10 you’ve got Reece Bellotti, an experienced man in the opposite corner who’s been about. What are your thoughts on Reece as your opponent and what kind of fight are you expecting?
LD: I think he’s brilliant. I found an interview with me from years ago after one of my early fights and I got asked, “Who is your favourite domestic fighter?” I said, “Reece Bellotti.” He still is one of my favourite fighters. He’s on such a streak as well. I remember he lost a couple during Covid and then I remember being at a show where a couple of RJ’s boys were fighting. There was a Southern Area title fight happening and Reece Bellotti’s name got announced and I went “What?” I thought he was undefeated, and Reece just tore the guy (Dean Dodge) apart. He’s still got it and he’s been on a streak ever since. He beat Youssef Khoumari, who I drew against, and then got the win against Aqib Fiaz, which I kind of saw coming. This is a fight that gets you motivated just because he’s been about, because of his experience and he comes to fight. And he has boxed high calibre opponents, so it’ll be interesting to see what he brings to the table. He’s always had his eye on winning the British title.
BN: Speaking of the British title, since you won yours have you noticed a difference in your confidence?
LD: Nothing like that really. I had a great fight for the British. Qais Ashfaq was very skilful. I felt I would have the strength on him because he had recently just come up in weight. In terms of skill, he was the most skilful and experienced fighter I’ve boxed. His amateur pedigree was ridiculous. I was fighting as hard as I could and gave every round my best. I think I was convincingly victorious in the end. Before that I fought Joshua Wuhab. There’s no footage of that which is a shame because I think it was my best performance and hardest fight to date. I took that at 10 days’ notice and I remember him getting in the ring and he looked massive. I look up and I can remember my fiancée, my eight-month pregnant sister and my mum looking at him, then looking at me like, “Oh mate, this is fucking terrible.” Get to the second round and I can feel my eye shutting. Never had bruising or swelling around that area before. And I’m like, “This is going so wrong.” Late on he was tiring but I still couldn’t see out my left eye. The last five rounds I just gave it to him and won a points decision.