By Shaun Brown
“My body’s in agony but that’s to be expected.”
Caoimhin Agyarko was just trying to get his day going when answering a call from Boxing News. After a career-boosting victory on Saturday night (December 2), the Northern Irishman reviewed his performance against Troy Williamson in Belfast and told us all about battling nerves in the build-up and revealed the title he feels he can now go on and challenge for.
BN: Reflecting on your win against Troy Williamson, what did you think of your performance?
CA: I haven’t watched it back yet, but I think in the moment and at the time I felt like I was boxing very well. Personally, I thought the first six rounds were really easy to be honest. A lot of people said I lost maybe one of the early rounds; the third or fourth. It was easier than expected during the first six. The seventh and eighth were a bit tough and then I coasted the last two. That was probably my best performance to date. I showed a little bit of everything. I traded with him when I had to, I out-jabbed him, I used my feints, I used my footwork, I out-boxed him when I had to, so there was a bit of everything on Saturday night.
BN: The fight was hyped up and rightly so. Did you feel any pre-fight nerves?
CA: I don’t get nervous for fights which is very insane. I normally have to make myself nervous in the changing rooms.
BN: How do you go about making yourself nervous?
CA: I just go through scenarios that could happen in the fight. Sometimes negative scenarios like, if I get caught with a certain shot, what would I do? It makes me nervous. I envision getting caught or clipped or put down. That makes me nervous. Having nerves is a good thing because you’re a bit sharper and zoned in. In the build-up to this fight, for the last eight or nine weeks, I was going to bed nervous every single night. And I was like, “Fuck, this is new to me.” I thought on the night I would be very, very nervous. But the whole fight week, and then the fight night, I wasn’t nervous one bit. I thought walking out to that crowd, eight thousand Irish fans screaming my name, I’d be nervous, but I wasn’t nervous one bit. I relished the moment and took it in which I was glad about because I knew how to deal with my emotions then. It wasn’t like I was having to deal with my emotions while being nervous as well.
BN: What did you think of Troy Williamson as an opponent?
CA: I’ve always rated him as a good fighter. I didn’t really feel his power; it didn’t affect me. I definitely felt his pressure. He’s a front-foot fighter, very non-stop coming forward, and [he] didn’t take a step back. He’s a very good fighter and has still got a lot left to give. He’s always going to be in exciting fights with his style. It was never anything personal [between us]. People were trying to build it up as something personal. I always said it was never personal, this is business to me. He surprised me in stages because I expected him to press the action earlier in the fight and he didn’t really. I thought he would have been non-stop from the first bell and wasn’t. He gave me a bit of breathing room [in] the first two rounds but yeah, I rate Troy.
BN: Just as the final bell rang you seemed to let out a release of emotion knowing you’d won. Winning that fight obviously meant a lot.
CA: Definitely. That fight meant a lot to me [but] not because there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders. A lot of people were saying this was a make-or-break fight for Caoimhin Agyarko which I didn’t understand. I was 13-0, I only just turned 27 last Wednesday. Very young and not many fights. For people to say it was make-or-break when I’ve never taken a loss was very strange to me. So, people were adding pressure to my shoulders by saying I’m going to fold under the pressure against Troy, he’s too good, he’s fought at a better level blah-blah-blah, I’ve never proven myself… this, that and the other. There was a lot of doubters. It was back home in Belfast, there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders, and I did feel that for the first time ever. It was good to let out that bit of tension which I’ve been holding in the for the last eight weeks. It was a good release. When I walked back to my changing room I said to my coach, “Thank fuck that’s over. We got it done and proved everybody wrong.”
BN: You’ve now beaten a former British champion, so is the plan now to improve on that and face someone even better next time out?
CA: My main goal is activity. I’ve just come off a tough fight and a good win for me; a great name. But I obviously want to keep progressing and keep putting good names on the record and testing myself. I’ll sit down with my manager next week and assess what’s next and what route we want to go down.
BN: So, what do you do now for the rest of 2023? Are you going to get time to enjoy Christmas?
CA: Enjoy Christmas, definitely. That was a long camp. I’ve been away from my friends and family since the start of August. I made a lot of sacrifices in camp. I missed my birthday, I missed friend’s birthdays, I missed certain things that I would like to have attended. I was away from my girlfriend, too. So, I want to enjoy Christmas with my friends and family and then I’ll be heading back to camp end of January. I’ll still train over Christmas but will be back to camp January and we’ll then plan for a big 2024.
BN: Would you like a shot at the European title? You mentioned sitting down with your own team, but you must have your own ambitions.
CA: Definitely. I’ve said you can’t skip levels in boxing. My plan in 2023 was to aim for the European title but again inactivity and injuries kept me out of the ring, so it wasn’t possible. I had surgery at the start of the year. I think I’m in a good position to go and challenge for a European title; get myself into position for a European title and then on to world honours.