John Thain pounds historic streets as fight night looms

John Thain has been training hard at Lochend Gym to complement his prep in the Old Town. Pic: Greg Macvean
John Thain has been training hard at Lochend Gym to complement his prep in the Old Town. Pic: Greg Macvean
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Light middleweight boxer John Thain has revealed how he and his MGM Scotland team-mates have been making use of Edinburgh’s most historic closes ahead of their bouts at Meadowbank on Saturday night.

Thain, who is topping the bill at this weekend’s Rise of the Champions show as he takes on Bolton’s Chris Jenkinson, has admitted his fitness levels have gone through the roof since taking up early-morning sprints in and around the Royal Mile.

The 28-year-old hasn’t fought since September having been forced to withdraw from his last fight in December due to an injury to his right hand but is now raring to go after his enforced break.

Explaining how the likes of Fleshmarket Close have become a new training hub, Thain said: “We’d been looking for somewhere to do sprints for a while that has a good set of stairs and Meadowbank, which a lot of people have used in the past, was far too dark at that time of the morning.

“So the closes off the High Street and the Royal Mile seemed the perfect fit. Some of the stairs are really steep but it’s kind of protected from the wind and rain and there’s good lighting. We’ll start at about 6am and be up and down them up to thirty times in one session.

“For the most part, it’s fairly quiet but then you start to see people on their way to work but we’ve pretty much got it to ourselves. It can be really tough going and you do feel it. But the good thing is everyone is there pushing one another and it’s a great feeling once it’s done.”

Thain admitted it was a no-brainer when he was asked to sign a contract with MGM in January. I went out to train in Marbella at the end of the January and was delighted when they asked me to sign up,” he said. “They’ve treated me so well and I’m sure I’m going to get pushed on and things will get better this year. It’s time to get a move on now. We’re all getting the chance to box in our hometown so that’s a real bonus. There’s a real good team of pros down at Lochend so it’s great training together.

“Saturday is going to be a great occasion. This will be the first time I’ve topped the bill so it’s going to be a good night.”

Meanwhile, Livingston’s Thomas Dickson has been preparing for his third professional bout by having a one-to-one with the retired and five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. The 39-year-old American was in Glasgow in January to host a speakers evening at the Hilton hotel where lightweight Dickson, 26, was in attendance. Mayweather is considered the best boxer of his era with an undefeated record of 49 victories before announcing his retirement in October, and Dickson knew this was his opportunity to grab a word with the global star.

“I was completely and utterly starstruck,” said Dickson, who is fighting Sheffield’s Qasim Hussain on Saturday. “He was a great guy and really down to earth and he just told me to go about things in my own way. How can you not be inspired by that? Ricky Hatton was also there and he’s just exactly what you’d expect. I have followed them both since I started boxing so it was a real honour. It really drives you on hearing what they’ve achieved.”

Dickson, who trains at Leith Victoria, won by knockout in his last bout in January against Dunfermline’s Michael Stupart but is predicting a much tougher encounter with Hussain this time round. “He fought Stephen Tiffney in December and is pretty quick and durable so I’m expecting a tough bout,” he said. “He boxed on Sky Sports a couple of weeks ago so I’ve seen him a few times. But I’m confident I can pick up my third win. I was always told the professional game would suit me better as I can pick my shots a lot better and put more into them. I’m enjoying it a lot more and, if I’m being honest, I didn’t really enjoy fighting in the amateurs.”

Cruiserweight’s Stephen Simmons has withdrawn from Saturday night’s show due to personal reasons.

Tickets for Saturday’s event are still available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and there will also be a limited amount of tickets available on the door. The first fight is scheduled to begin at 8pm.

THE MEADOWBANK LINE-UP:

Fight 1: Super-middleweight: Andy Neylon v Brian Forsyth.

Fight 2: Light-middleweight: Chris Jenkinson v John Thain

Fight 3: Super-middleweight: Mitch Mitchell v Tommy Philbin

Fight 4: Lightweight: Qasim Hussain v Thomas Dickson

Fight 5: Light-welterweight: Radoslav Mitev v Lewis Benson

Fight 6: Featherweight: Chris Adaway v Stephen Tiffney