At the second time of asking Samuel Antwi became British champion when he beat Mason Cartwright for the 154bs Lonsdale belt in a brutal fight of the year contender on September 1. Speaking to Boxing News from Italy Antwi discussed the fight, the violent finish and takes a trip down memory lane when he was spotted by the legendary James Toney.
How much does it mean to you to win the British title?
Everything. I always say to my daughter, “Once you start something you have to finish it”. When I started out boxing, I didn’t know about British titles then I challenged for it [against Ekow Essuman at welterweight] and didn’t get the decision. It became my goal. I had to win the British title. It’s setting that standard for your family as well.
It was a demanding fight. Are you still recovering?
Do you know what I don’t feel too bad after the fight. There wasn’t too much bruising and stuff like that. Not much swelling. I was definitely a bit sore for a few days. Those fights are the most fun to be in. I went down to my sponsors at Back 2 Well-Being. Nadia Alibhai, the director and principal osteopath, appears on the TV show This Morning to talk about health matters. My sponsors sort out all my massages and osteopathic work. As soon as I got back to London I had a few treatments and they really helped speed up the recovery process.
Was the fight what you expected?
I definitely knew he was coming for a fight. He was the same case as me having challenged for a British and not winning it. I had fire in the belly, and I expected him to put everything into the fight. Watching the fight back I felt I took most of the rounds. I probably give him about two rounds at most, can argue for three. The later rounds I knew he felt like he was still in the fight and would come on strong. I definitely expected him to put everything into it.
There were some heavy exchanges in that fight. Did machismo take over? Do you believe you could have won it easier?
Exactly. It was that. It was macho, that mano a mano thing. Definitely going up the weight as well I felt he had that little bit of advantage being at the weight longer than I have. So, I tried to make sure he knew he was in a fight, he’s not gonna push me around because I’m coming up in weight. It was exactly that machismo. If you’re gonna do it to me, I’m gonna do it to you. If you’re gonna hit me once, I’m gonna hit you twice and three times. I said afterwards it could have been easier but shit it’s that macho effect.
Before the fight against Cartwright how would you have summed up your career?
Being a road warrior. Every title fight I’ve never had a hometown one. I had one in London actually (Siar Ozgul). Southern Area [welterweight title] defence in 2019, that was in London at York Hall. Every other I’ve had to go into the lion’s den basically and go against the home crowd. Even when I was walking up to the ring [against Cartwright], I heard all the cheers but I heard the boos as well so I was like here we go again.
Writer’s note: Antwi couldn’t defend his Southern Area belt against Ozgul because he weighed in over the 147lbs limit. Antwi won the fight on points but the belt was made vacant.
Why did you start your professional career in America?
James Toney was here for Prizefighter in 2013. My coach at the time was doing close protection for James. I was having my National Development Championships going on at the same time. They came down to watch me fight as well because they were in London. They liked what they saw and they said, “When you’re ready to turn pro go over to the States”. As soon as I won the competition I was like yeah, let’s go and leave straight away. I was there for two years. I fought on three shows and the rest were in competitions.
What memories do you have from your time over there?
It was great out there. Great sparring. We had James Toney in the gym, so he’d give us pointers. Gone out to the Wildcard Gym for sparring. Went to the gym where Leo Santa Cruz trains so it was a really good time out there. We were just solely there for training and fighting, nothing else. All distractions out the way so it was a really good experience. I only had two years as an amateur so being over there helped me advance as well.
You’ve had some good wins over Jez Smith, Darren Tetley, a great fight against Conah Walker and now you are British champion at 31. Are you a late bloomer?
I started at 21 so I came into the sport really late. I think training out in America turned it into an obsession. I was running and training seven days a week, there was no days off for a few years.
Going back to the Cartwright fight and particularly the finish. It was a brutal ending. When you saw the opening to take him out what was going through your head and afterwards as well.
I remember actually seeing the opening. When we came up to the 10th round Gary [Logan] said, “These last two rounds, even though we feel like we’ve won a lot of rounds you gotta go out there and win these two rounds. You gotta make sure because it could be close, you never know.” When I hit him with that shot I seen him freeze for a moment and in my head I thought I’ve already hit him with everything and in the previous round he never went so I made sure. I hit him with the next shots and then afterwards it was kind like hold on. He got back to his feet fairly quick afterwards. It was mixed emotions. I spoke to him afterwards and he’s really okay.
Have you thought about the future? Would you like to win the British title outright or would you like to move on?
I definitely want to defend the belt. I think it’s probably time to stay at super-welterweight. The weight making is a lot easier. I believe I can handle myself at the weight. After Friday I know I won’t be pushed around too much at 154lbs. I definitely want to defend the belt and put a stamp on it and see where the opportunities take us. Since going to Adam [Booth], it’s been life-changing to be honest. Adam has really made a difference, training is coming along really good with Gary Logan. The whole team has made a mind-blowing difference. Boxing’s a lonely sport but when you have a great team around you it doesn’t feel like it.
You mentioned Gary Logan. How would you describe him as a man and a coach?
He’s a man of morals, he’s a man of faith like myself so we get along really well. These guys have been there and done it before. He said himself he’s always learning about boxing, and he never stops learning. He’s got no ego. If he gives me an instruction and I don’t feel like it’s working for us he takes us on to the next. He’s very easy to work with.