proudest moments come whenever I help fighters achieve their ambitions. For
example, Ben Murphy was in the boxing wilderness when I signed him and I
helped manoeuvre him to two British title shots. I've helped many fighters
achieve their dreams over the years and I'm very proud of that." UK
Boxing manager and promoter Mickey Helliet sits down with SylvanaBoxing.
Check it out!
DE: In addition to being a boxer yourself back
in the day, you have since been a trainer, a manager, a prominent matchmaker,
and a promoter. How did you come to make the transitions from each of these
things until finally you started promoting your own shows?
MH: I began training fighters as a hobby, mainly to fill the void that was
left when my own career was cut short. I badly needed something to focus on
and began training junior amateurs at Finchley ABC & Dale Youth.
DE: From a matchmaking perspective and with due
consideration of a prospect's development, how important would you say it is
for a boxer to meet opponents of a variety of different styles and statures?
MH: It's very important. I am perplexed when novice fighters tell me they
don't want to fight southpaws, counterpunches or whoever. To me those early
fights are an important part of bringing a fighter on. What if a fighter
gets made the mandatory challenger against a champion who is a southpaw and
the fighter has always avoided that stance up until then? I always take time
to discuss an opponent with my fighters, especially if the opponent has a
particular style or is awkward, but its part of the learning process. I want
my fighters to be in as strong a position as possible and that means getting
the right kind of experience.
DE: Given that there can be a thin line between
the two, how you distinguish a learning fight from a mismatch?
MH: It's very important not to overmatch a guy before he's ready to step up.
The way the business is developing, I see a lot of fighters being slung in
out of their depth, as well as before they have even had the chance to be
marketed correctly. What is important to me as a manager is that they
achieve the best for their potential. It's also very rare that any of my
journeymen get stopped. Knowing how to make the right fight at the right
time is where i see a lot of inexperienced managers and promoters damaging
fighters careers. If they're not signed with me, I guess it's not my problem,
but I don't like to see it happen all the same.
DE: What kind of things do you take into
consideration before signing up and/or deciding to invest in a boxer?
MH: Lots of things, such as their attitude, commitment, their ability to
listen and learn, and their understanding of the commercial side, as well as
the sport side of things.
DE: How frustrating is it when a fighter pulls
out of a card at short-notice?
MH: Very frustrating but it is part of the business, so we try to have a
plan B in place just incase!
DE: Would you say that journeymen are generally
MH: Yes, very much. I speak to and learn about all my journeymen. That way I
can help them achieve their aims, taking as little physical punishment as
possible in the process, while keeping the BBBoC off their backs. Again,
matching is very important for them.
DE: From the perspective of a manager, what in
all does looking after fighters normally entail?
MH: Everything! For a journeyman it can be making sure they are busy and
well matched so they aren't getting whacked. For a contender, it can be
organising sparring and helping them find a training environment that suits
DE: Are there any journeymen off the top of your
head who you feel could have had very different careers had they been
managed differently in the early stages of their careers?
MH: Yes, a lot of them could have had potential and can fight but ended up
where they are because they were slung into too hard fights too early. I
won't name them because I work with (and will continue to work with) lots of
managers and promoters who have done that.
DE: In this day and age, why is constructing a
record and hanging on to the '0' still so important when building a fighter
MH: No matter what anyone says, TV demands that records are attractive. If
the record isn't attractive, the fighters marketability is adversely
DE: Which would you say is worse for the sport,
fighters with padded records being fast-tracked to a big fight which they
are exposed in, or good fighters being kept apart from each other regardless
of how much it "making sense" for them to meet?
MH: Both of those are bad for boxing. I don't sling fighters in. From the
other angle, once they are ready and able to step up to a big fight, what's
the point in holding them back? I assess my guys, then work towards taking
them to the highest level for their ability.
DE: The integrity of the sport typically comes
into question whenever a high profile fight is marred by questionable
scoring, but surely the issue lies much deeper than that when there are away
fighters at all levels that get screwed over constantly and in every country?
MH: Yes it does and for boxing as a sport to thrive, it is something that
needs to be eradicated.
DE: Do you feel that Boxing can learn from MMA
and take note of what has led to its surge in popularity?
ME: I think boxing can take a lot from the way MMA is marketed. That said,
big boxing fights still draw far higher viewing figures and bigger purses,
so there isn't any panic around most boxing promoters.
DE: How do you perceive Prizefighter and do you
foresee that it can continue being a platform indefinitely?
MH: I'm a fan of Prizefighter. It is very watchable and produces a lot of
competitive and unpredictable fights which has to be good viewing.
DE: There is a big difference in the public
profile of British boxers nowadays in comparison to the 80s and 90s. Why do
you feel that is?
MH: The fact that terrestrial TV withdrew from boxing has to be the biggest
factor in this. The BBC is supposed to be the people's channel and it should
show the people's sport. Boxing does a lot of good to our country. For the
Beeb to have ploughed money in the way I understand it did to Formula 1,
which is a sport that attracts huge sponsorship and is the sport of the
privileged few, doesn't rest well with me at all.
DE: How significant is it that sometimes
unlicensed shows are selling-out, while some small-hall boxing shows aren't?
MH: Pro boxing needs to adapt to the current economic, political and social
environment. In its current format it is often unworkable for smaller
promoters which is why they turn to the unlicensed stuff. I do think more
could be done by the BBBoC to help small promoters.
DE: Off the top of your head, some of your
highlights and lowlights to date as a manager or promoter?
MH: The worst moment was a fighter I managed (Lewis Pinto) taking his own
life. My proudest moments come whenever I help fighters achieve their
ambitions. For example, Ben Murphy was in the boxing wilderness when I
signed him and I helped manoeuvre him to two British title shots. I've
helped many fighters achieve their dreams over the years and I'm very proud
DE: With regards to the business element of
boxing, what do you feel is often misunderstood or overlooked by fans?
MH: Maybe that boxing is an incredibly short career. For that reason, the
fighters need to be carefully mapped out rather than charging straight into
the biggest pay day straight away. When the fighters are built carefully,
the biggest paydays come. If they are rushed into big fights, careers can be
ruined very easily.
DE: Any advice to anyone in boxing who might be
contemplating going into managing or promoting?
MH: My way has always been to be honest and reliable,. It's worked well for
me, so I'd say follow that and get a good matchmaker!
DE: What kind of interests do you have outside
MH: I don't have much time for anything outside boxing. It's pretty much all
consuming 24 hours, 7 days a week. I have a girlfriend and I stay in touch
with my family!