"Whenever I go on holiday, I pack my gum shield and gloves, find the roughest gym and ask for a spar."
Wednesday 17 October 2018 15:22, UK
Donning a remarkable Mexican outfit, with thousands roaring him on, Joe Laws became a star in an instant on Saturday night, so we met the man behind that memorable mask.
The relatively obscure but aptly-named 'Benwell Bomber' had only fought twice previously, two stoppage wins, but at the sold-out Metro Radio Arena, as a four-round float on the RItson-Patera card, Laws, of Newcastle, had the opportunity of a lifetime and he delivered in spectacular fashion.
Having sold an incredible 1,000 tickets, Laws walked out like a world champion, quickly engulfed by a bear-pit atmosphere, and relentlessly traded heavy artillery with Chris Truman through almost 12 minutes of warfare before finally getting a fairy-tale stoppage finish.
Now I've had that taste of the big-time, I'm more driven than ever.
Almost every man, woman and child in the frenzied crowd, including hero Alan Shearer, rose to their feet to salute the North East's latest fighting son, so how does Laws reflect on his moment in the limelight…
Tell us about when you found out that you would be fighting live in front of a massive TV audience?
I was told I was the live float as I was upstairs watching Dave Allen on my phone. He got a first-round stoppage so I quickly got ready and went down to warm-up. Then, (Joshua) Buatsi dropped his man in the first and I realised I would be on sooner than expected, I was buzzing.
Then your ring walk was simply incredible, everyone was up on their feet, including Shearer?
It felt surreal. It's something I always dreamed of, fighting in my hometown arena in front of thousands of my supporters. To be there walking out, people chanting my name, it was amazing, I loved it.
Tell us a bit about the Mexican attire?
I won my first amateur title 10 years ago, when 14, and before the Championships I was in Mexico and saw an old-school hat. I thought, "I'll buy this hat and wear it to the ring, then I won."
I was back in Mexico in August, having a nice break and then got told I was fighting in the arena. I saw another hat and thought I'll do the same again. Then I saw the mask, saw the cigar, why not just go the full hog and get all three.
And you have done some sparring out in Mexico?
Anytime I go away I pack my gum shield, if it's a training camp or holiday, even if I'm hungover, and look for a fight. I find the roughest gym, walk in and ask for a spar. It adds character and is an experience, it makes the holiday for me.
Is it fair to say you were pretty pumped up on Saturday, fighting on adrenaline?
My trainer kept telling me to just enjoy it and take it all in, some world champions don't even get a peak time fight in a full arena with the cameras rolling like I got - I've done it in my third fight. I'm still a baby in the sport, but now I've had that taste of the big time, I'm more driven than ever.
And the fight was incredible, some people are calling it the best four-rounder ever?
The first two rounds, I tried to show my boxing skill but it was hard to stay composed with the crowd going mental. I saw red and wanted to get him out of there. In the third, I caught him with an uppercut and saw his legs go a bit, and I just got excited and thought 'I've got him here'.
I threw eight punches and thought he had to go down. He didn't so I thought another eight and the ref will jump in, he didn't, one more barrage would do it, but he was still there. Props to him, he was tough and survived it. I injured my hand, it seems I've been blessed with my mum's hands and my dad's power.
You threw some nasty body shots, shades of Ricky Hatton maybe?
I used to love watching Hatton while growing up, his personality and how he presented himself, the way he fought, he's been one of my heroes since day one. If I can do a quarter of what he's done I'll be a very happy man when I'm 50-years old.