BN: Why are you fighting again?
RB: I always wanted to have one last big night in Glasgow before I call it a day. The amount of big nights we had up here and the support I was shown was unbelievable. If this is the last fight [then] I can walk away from boxing happy. I’ve had a good career. I’ve always said I would love to have one more in Glasgow and here we are.
BN: Can you hand on heart definitely say this will be your last fight?
If my wife has her way. She didn’t even want me doing this one. I see her point of view. I’m 40 now, 50-odd fights and some right good tough ones. When I was younger and starting out I always said I would keep boxing as long as I wasn’t taking too many punches. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a few hard fights but I’ve never took a load of clean shots. If this is the last one, I can walk away from boxing with my head held high knowing I’ve not took a lot of damage. I’ve already got the ball rolling for the next stage of my career, training some pro boxers now. I’m in the middle of getting my own gym set up in Coatbridge. Things are looking good.
BN: Are there any of those tough fights that stand out for you?
RB: When we went out to Texas and boxed Omar Figueroa, that was my first fight at light-welterweight. When we got into the ring, I couldn’t believe the size difference. Our tactics going into that fight were try and stick to the boxing and move. When you face someone that big and they have that presence you’ve got no option but to stand and fight. The next day we flew home, and I can remember being in that airport and on that plane, I was in a bad way.
BN: What prompted your decision to move into training fighters?
RB: The original plan was always to get my own gym. When lockdown happened there was fights getting spoke about and falling through and [I was] getting messed about it. My missus said, “While you’re waiting why don’t you start doing your coaching badges?” I phoned Craig McEvoy at Boxing Scotland, and ended up coaching at Boxing Scotland as well.
BN: You’ve had a wonderful career; how do you look back on it all?
RB: I’m technically not the best boxer and I’ve always admitted that. When I was training, I was always 100 per cent no matter what. I knew when I walked into that ring, I was fit for a hard 12 rounds, and I could stand and fight it out if I needed to. My best attribute when I’m fighting is my stubbornness because I’ve boxed people who are so much better than me. I’ve got that wee bit in me where I refuse to back down, I’d say that’s my best attribute.
BN: Did you watch the fight between Errol Spence and Terence Crawford?
RB: I still don’t watch boxing. Unless it’s somebody I know.
BN: I wanted to ask if you feel any pride at having gone the distance with Crawford who is now regarded as the best fighter in the world.
RB: After that fight I was getting grief off everybody. People telling me I should retire, and I was finished. When you see what he’s done, he’s more or less knocked out everyone. When people are looking back now, I think they are starting to realise how good he actually was. But I got some grief for that.
BN: Would you say have been given enough credit for your career?
RB: I’ve never been one for blowing my own trumpet. For years I treated boxing as my job. You go in, you fight, you get paid, give me the date for the next one and same again. That’s the way I look at boxing. I’ve never been one for mouthing off. People always say to me you don’t get the credit you deserve. I don’t pay any attention to it.
BN: Have there been any moments in your career where you’ve thought enough is enough?
RB: During lockdown. It wasn’t as if I was saying to myself this is it, I’ve had enough. When I started coaching at Boxing Scotland, I thought to myself the fights don’t seem to be happening now, let’s get the ball rolling with the next chapter. The amount of years I’ve been boxing I knew my career was coming to an end. There were fights spoke about, I was getting promised fights and they were falling through. It was disheartening. That’s why I got the ball rolling on the coaching side.
BN: An all-Scottish fight against Willie Limond in Glasgow. A scrap will break out at some point won’t it?
RB: I wouldn’t say that. I’ve treated this fight like any other one. I tell people that I don’t watch who I’m fighting. I was laughing because when I boxed Terence Crawford, I didn’t watch any of him either. My years as an amateur with Rab Bannan you would go to all these shows, you wouldn’t know who you were fighting, you’d just go out and deal with as it comes. That’s the attitude I took into the pro game. As long as I knew I’d put the work in the gym I wasn’t caring who I was going in against.
BN: You love fighting, so will you find it easy to walk away?
RB: People say I’m mad, but I do love fighting. For me the fighting is the best bit. If I was taking too many punches it’d be a totally different story and I wouldn’t do it. For me the fighting is the best bit, and you just can’t beat it. It’s hard to explain. I do understand when some fighters retire just for a year or two and then come back. It’s never going to leave you. If it turns out this is my last fight, I’m happy to walk away. I’m not going to lie, there will be that small part where you say just do one more. I will keep sparring now and again, nothing too major. If you’re in the gym and moving well you’ve got that wee bit in your head saying you could do another one. I’ve always said once I officially retire that’s it, no more.
BN: Have you felt the effects or shown any signs of having had 53 fights?
RB: What I’ve realised is the older you get its the recovery time. That’s the biggest difference I’ve noticed. When you train, you’re always sore but the older I’ve got my legs are always in bits constantly. People ask, “How are you feeling?” “I’m fucked!” Again, it’s just one of those things and you get on with it.
BN: What advice would you give to someone turning pro?
RB: The training side is the most important. Waiting about for fights can be the hard bit but as long as you’re staying in the gym, keep ticking over and always fit for six. That’s my motto. If that phone goes at short notice and you’re up and coming you’ve got to take these fights. For me, that would be my advice. Keep yourself in that gym ticking over. Boxing should be a way of life. You shouldn’t start training when you’ve got a fight. Always keep yourself in shape.