Willie Limond expects to have his forty seventh and ultimate combat this Friday on the same bill that his son, Jake, has his second, writes Elliot Worsell
OFTEN a baby will embark on lots of their best adventures behind a father or mother’s again, but not often do they find yourself in a boxing fitness center pursuing the very factor their father hoped would eternally stay off limits. Actually, when former British and Commonwealth champion Willie Limond left for work sooner or later, he wouldn’t have anticipated to later return to uncover his sons, Jake and Drew, had discovered what he had for therefore lengthy tried to conceal from them.
“This isn’t what I wished for my boys,” mentioned Limond, which means, after all, boxing. “I by no means took them to the fitness center or put them on this path. That was their mum. I used to be away working in Fort William at the time and once I got here again I discovered out the boys had been to the boxing for 2 weeks. I used to be like, ‘What the f**ok goes on? This wasn’t the plan.’”
Regardless, as soon as each had been bitten by the boxing bug, that was it for the Limond boys. Now, with Jake 18 and Drew 16, and with each plotting what they hope will achieve success careers (Drew as an newbie, Jake as a professional), their father has had to come to phrases with, and respects, their determination to comply with in his footsteps. “They’re fairly good at it, they stay the life, and so they’re devoted,” he mentioned, “so we’ll see how far they go.”
Given he was solely 5 – 6 at the time, Jake, Willie’s eldest, remembers little or no of the day he first went to the boxing fitness center. In contrast to his father, for whom this second was considerably seminal, Jake merely noticed the day as a day like every other. “The one factor I keep in mind,” he mentioned, “is sitting on a staircase and my dad getting back from work and my mum telling him, ‘I took the boys to the boxing.’ However that’s genuinely all I can keep in mind.”
He then added: “Once I was actually younger, like 5 – 6, I didn’t know something about boxing, however I simply appreciated watching folks combat. Then once I grew up a wee bit I turned a wierd wee boy. I finished liking sports activities and obtained pure out of form.
“Now I’ve obtained an curiosity in it, and watch the odd combat, however I nonetheless strive not to revolve my life round boxing. I don’t need all my character traits to come from the reality I box. I like Star Wars, Marvel, Pokémon, and Lego. I’m a pure nerd, man. My room’s coated in posters and me and my friends accumulate comedian books and stuff like that.”
The world of make-believe and fantasy is after all a world much less daunting and harmful than that of boxing, which is little question one thing Jake’s father will be fast to remind him ought to a reminder ever be wanted. For now, although, Jake, presently 1-0 as a professional, seems to be in the sport for all the proper causes, having initially taken it critically for causes actually fairly admirable. “Once I was a wee man, I used to be morbidly overweight,” he defined. “I used to be pure fats, I’m not going to lie, and I simply wished to drop some weight and have an newbie combat. I had just a few exhibition bouts earlier than I turned fats, however wished a combat the place it mattered if I received or misplaced to get me again in form. That was my plan. However I fairly appreciated it and ended up carrying on from there.”
Having carried on and by no means stopped, Jake this yr kickstarted a professional profession with his father’s own profession as each the inspiration and template. The concept, in concept, is to presumably be taught from his father’s errors, whereas his father, the one to clarify these errors, should be taught when to each transfer shut and step again, a troublesome problem for any father or mother, no matter their youngster’s chosen career. “It’s horrible watching them,” Willie mentioned. “I can not wait till it’s finished. I like to see each boxers protected – my boy and his opponent. However it’s f**king horrible till that time. I’d somewhat not watch it, even when it’s an satisfying combat. I’m simply ready for it to be finished. My coronary heart is racing. That’s simply the father in me.
“I’m an upfront particular person and communicate my thoughts. If for one second I believed they didn’t have it in them to do that, I might say, ‘Look this isn’t for you.’ They’re sufficiently old to make their own selections, however I might don’t have any worry telling them this isn’t for them. Because it goes, and I do know it’s early days, however they give the impression of being to be doing okay proper now.”
In distinction, every time Jake sees his father in a boxing ring, both competing or sparring, he describes the sensation as being no totally different than “watching a traditional man box”. Such is the disparate nature of their roles, that of father and son, Jake, the son, is ready to loosen up in methods Willie, the father, can not when watching a beloved one in a boxing ring. Furthermore, it’s possible the consolation Jake experiences when watching his father box stems from the information that his father, even at 43, can greater than deal with himself.
“I used to be by no means allowed to watch his fights rising up,” Jake mentioned. “He was preventing shut to midnight numerous the time and my bedtime was seven o’clock. I’ve since been on YouTube, although, and watched a few of them, and I additionally went to watch a pair stay in direction of the finish of his profession, like the Curtis Woodhouse one.”
Probably Willie has crammed in the essential gaps the place his boxing profession is worried. Nevertheless, if too humble for that, let me be the one to remind all who want reminding that Willie Limond was a trendy, textbook boxer who received Commonwealth titles as a light-weight and super-lightweight, as effectively as a British title, at super-lightweight, at the third try. In a profession that began all the approach again in 1999, he boxed 46 instances professionally and shared the ring with the likes of Érik Morales, Anthony Crolla, Alex Arthur and, maybe most famously, Amir Khan, whom he got here ever so shut to stopping in 2007.
“Everyone remembers me for that combat and typically it’s higher to be remembered for one thing than not remembered in any respect,” mentioned Willie. “It didn’t go my approach however these items occur. I don’t agree with the way it went, however, hey, it’s 15 years in the past now. He had his moments and I had mine. He took his and I by no means took mine. The man was getting lengthy counts and all kinds however Amir obtained up and did what I didn’t do. He completed the combat [Limond retired on his stool after eight rounds]. I couldn’t try this. Truthful play.”
As for his time with Morales, Limond might have once more come up brief versus world-class opposition however nearly as good as victory was the expertise and bond he fashioned with the Mexican as a consequence. “It was sensible,” he recalled. “There have been 56,000 folks at the Plaza de Toros, the bullring. It was f**king unbelievable. The ambiance was surreal. I want I took my time to take it in. “I did effectively in the combat. I used to be forward after 4 rounds however got here again after the fourth and my legs felt so heavy. It was the altitude. I couldn’t transfer or breathe. One of the simplest ways to describe it’s like being in a sauna with a sweatsuit on making an attempt to breathe by means of a straw. Érik then began coming on robust and that was that.
“However I should have finished okay as a result of I used to be Érik’s chief sparring accomplice for his combat towards [Marcos] Maidana. We’ve additionally stored in contact over the years. In actual fact, it was only some weeks in the past I used to be in Tijuana coaching with Érik and his coach.”
If the thought of Willie Limond and Érik Morales coaching in the same fitness center in 2022 sounds in any respect unusual, it’s as a result of it’s, and Limond himself will be the first to agree. Certainly, whereas in the technique of getting ready for what will be his forty seventh skilled combat this Friday (Could 13), the Scotsman has questioned each his means to nonetheless do one thing that after got here so simply to him and, additionally, his sanity. “I used to be out working the different day and was three miles right into a seven-mile run once I thought to myself, What the f**ok am I doing this for? I referred to as my supervisor Iain Wilson and mentioned, ‘I believe I’m going to have to name this off.’ It was simply a type of days the place I felt actually drained. However I’ve obtained on with it and I’m trying ahead to it.”
Extra than simply his forty seventh professional combat, Limond’s bout towards CJ Wood in Renfrew is notable as a result of a combat in 2022 marks the fourth decade by which Willie Limond has boxed professionally, and, extra importantly, as a result of it will happen on the same evening, and bill, as his son’s second professional combat. “I do know Lee Haskins fought on the same present as his boy in Bristol, however I don’t suppose it’s been finished in Scotland, so it will be good to be the first guys to try this,” mentioned Willie. “We have been truly making an attempt to get the present as a pro-am present in order that my different boy, Drew, might additionally box on it. However we couldn’t get that sorted in time.”
As effectively as their surname and career, delight is one other factor the Limonds share. It is available in many varieties, too.
“I’ve to put on a greater efficiency than him,” mentioned Jake, who bins Michael Mooney on Friday’s present. “My dad is kind of good, although. That’s the onerous factor. I’ve watched him sparring some high amateurs and he’s doing effectively.
“Whether or not he fights once more after that is his alternative. The folks preventing for titles of their twenties are all coaching two or 3 times a day. My dad hasn’t obtained the time to try this as a result of he’s working with the Scotland newbie squad. However I believe if he obtained supplied sufficient cash, and it was a superb opponent, he would give it every part for eight weeks and handle it. He will know whether or not he’s obtained that in him anymore after this subsequent combat.”
By the sound of it, his father already is aware of.
“It’s greater than possible this will be the final one,” Willie conceded. “I final fought three years in the past and haven’t finished numerous coaching since. The final 12 weeks have been good for me. They’ve allowed me to get again in form. I’ve missed the coaching and I’ve missed coaching for one thing.
“If one thing good will get supplied to me after this combat, that would change my thoughts. However, proper now, that is my final combat.”
Whether it is to be his swansong, Limond, 41-5 (12), will at the very least go out having boxed on an evening to keep in mind. Higher but, due to his sons needing his help and steerage, as effectively as many different boxers in Scotland requiring the same from him, he will, going ahead, have the essential distractions to assist fill his days. This, for any retired fighter, is invaluable; extra essential, maybe, than belts on a mantlepiece.
“I’ll battle,” he admitted, “as a result of I’ve at all times been about it. I’ve obtained a job with Boxing Scotland and prepare 4 execs, together with my boy, however collaborating and watching are two various things.
“I do know when it’s over I’ll be unhappy. However I additionally know the way previous I’m and understand it doesn’t get any higher. Something I haven’t achieved in boxing just isn’t going to be achieved now, at 43. I’ve to be sensible about that.
“I’ve had numerous onerous instances as a professional. I used to work 12-hour shifts and nonetheless have to prepare. My recommendation to my boys, and to any younger fighter, is that this: stay the life. You’ve obtained to prepare onerous and take care of your physique and thoughts. Boxing is a rollercoaster, each emotionally and bodily. It could f**king play together with your thoughts like nothing else. I do know the pitfalls. I fell down numerous them.”
And but, crucially, he stored going.