UNBEATEN heavyweight prospect Johnny Fisher reckons an in-built fighting mentality will be the difference when he enters the trenches with Alen Babic.

The pair came head-to-head at an open-air press conference for their July 6 showdown in the Copper Box Arena (referred to frequently by participants as the “Copper Bosh” in relation to Fisher’s catchphrase).

Putting on exciting performances, albeit against the usual early career suspects, has been part of Fisher’s appeal. Putting a dent in his squat foe from Zagreb shouldn’t be an issue, either.

“[I’ve] Definitely got the power, we’ve seen that before,” asserted Fisher, 11-0 (10 KOs). 

“But if we go to the trenches, that’s what I believe I’ve got inside me. You can train as much as you want in the gym. You’ve got to have that inside you. That’s a mentality that you’re born with, no matter what background you’re from. And I’ve got that mentality.”

While promoter Eddie Hearn’s mentions of world level are fanciful at this stage, Fisher, 25, has shown various fight characteristics that suggest he is more than just a ticket seller. 

Hearn expects a bumper 7,000-strong crowd to witness the latest evolution of Johnny’s career. If he keeps winning, bigger nights against bigger opponents will inevitably arrive. In the short term, dismissing Babic and ignoring the haters are the only two things on the punching prospect’s mind.

“If you’re in the sport of boxing and you care about what people think or what people say, you’re not in the right sport because you’re going to have people saying, look at Tyson Fury, look at Anthony Joshua, look at the top level, look at Oleksandr Usyk.

“You’re going to get criticism from every angle. What matters is that you’ve got a team around you and you’ve got belief in yourself. And self-belief is something I’m never going to be short of,” added ‘The Romford Bull’.

While Babic (12-1, 11 KOs) may not be the most subtle operator on the circuit, if Fisher has any hidden flaws at this level—especially around the areas of heart, resolve, or stamina—the Croatian (below) will do everything in his power to find them. 

The pair have been close to each other in the past, swapping words, if not punches. When Babic stepped up in class against Shawndell Terell Winters in the Matchroom HQ Garden during the first slither of Covid-restricted shows in 2020, his latest rival had some choice comments to share.

“I remember when I had my first test. It was my third [sic, fourth] bout against Shawndell. You [Fisher] were there and you were telling me, ‘you’re not going to be able to do this’, it’s a 50-50 fight,” growled Babic.

“So I was there. I’m at least five years into this testing and stuff. And I know what it brings. That’s why I said yes to this fight. I feel like it’s a present from God for me.”

Not many would describe a fight with Johnny Fisher as being gifted from a higher power, but Babic may need a little touch of divine intervention to revive his career right now.

A six-round shellacking of North East hard man Steve Robinson no doubt helped to build the confidence of a man used to stepping inside and bulldozing through opponents. That approach did not work out in Poland when Babic was starched in a round by Lukasz Rozanski.

Rozanski’s subsequent first-round bludgeoning at the bridgerweight fists of Lawrence Okolie put everyone’s levels into perspective. If ‘The Savage’ gets caught clean by Fisher on July 6, he might quickly start suffering some flashbacks.

Babic insisted that he performs better when nothing much is expected of him. Carrying the barroom brawler tag while viewers waited repeatedly for him to come unstuck suited the 33-year-old’s temperament. 

It was when the mood shifted and he was suddenly held in higher esteem that the burden of expectation weighed heavy on his stocky shoulders.

“I want everybody to know I am the underdog in this fight. F**k the favourites. I am the underdog. I was the favourite for one fight. It was the worst fight of my life. It almost destroyed me. I was one year into depression. It almost threw everything off, said Babic. 

“So, I am a big underdog in this fight. A huge underdog,” he muttered – seemingly in a motivational spiel to himself as much as to anyone in attendance.