Stephen Simmons aims to make history – then hang up gloves

Stephen Simmons, right, faces up to Matty Askin. Former world champion David Haye, centre, has irked the Capital man in the build-up
Stephen Simmons, right, faces up to Matty Askin. Former world champion David Haye, centre, has irked the Capital man in the build-up
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Edinburgh’s Stephen Simmons is determined to bring the curtain down on his boxing career by becoming British cruiserweight champion.

The 33-year-old, who secured his biggest accolade in the sport when he won the IBF European title in October, is ready to put it all on the line at London’s York Hall on Saturday night.

Barnsley’s reigning champion Matty Askin is all that stands in Simmons’ way of becoming the first Scot to win the Lonsdale Belt at his weight division.

However, despite the lucrative opportunities that are likely to open up for the 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist should he triumph in the ring this weekend, Simmons is seriously contemplating calling time on a career spanning over two decades.

“After this fight, I’m going to sit down and assess my options but I reckon there’s a good chance I’ll hang up by gloves after this weekend,” Simmons told the Evening News. “I know I said I’d give it one more year but I’m missing out on a lot of time with my son. I really don’t know if I can keep doing it for much longer as my wife Nicole and baby boy Ethan are my priority now.

“I want to make sure I get this title and end on a high by making history. I don’t even know if another big title shot would be enough to tempt me but I’ll wait and see. I’ve been boxing 22 years so it’s beginning to take its toll on the body after the injuries I’ve had. I’ve surpassed anything that I ever set out to do; I’ve travelled the world, boxed live on television and have fought and won some big titles. But my full focus is on Saturday and then I’ll make my final decision.”

Simmons has been irked in the build-up to Saturday’s duel by the lack of respect shown by his opponent’s camp, not to mention David Haye, who is promoting the show which will be broadcast on Channel 5.

“They think they’re in for an easy fight and have been really cocky and arrogant. Askin thinks he is too good but we will see in the ring how easy it’s going to be,” Simmons explained. “Let’s not forget this fight was scheduled to take place in Edinburgh last year and he pulled out saying he was injured. He just didn’t fancy fighting in Scotland.

“David Haye has been piping up too. He’s got his own fight to deal with against one of my good friends Tony Bellew, who will no doubt destroy him again. I might have a word with him afterwards when I’ve got that belt around my waist. It will make it all the bit sweeter that it’s in London, to be honest.”

Simmons continued: “It’s the sharpest I’ve felt for a while so I’m feeling good. The thought of making history makes me so much more motivated for the fight. It’s definitely given me that extra edge in training. When I was over in Germany fighting Noel Gevor (October 2016), his team were making comments saying I was only the monster because of the way I look, but after the fight when I was undergoing the drugs test, they came in and said to me ‘now we know why you’re called the monster’. I’ll be bringing out that side of me on Saturday.”

As one career winds down, Josh Taylor – Simmons’ team-mate at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi eight years ago – continues to go from strength to strength. The Prestonpans puncher’s victory over Winston Campos earlier this month has put the 27-year-old on the cusp of his first world-title shot. And Simmons, similar to most in the boxing fraternity, isn’t in the least bit surprised.

“Josh deserves everything he gets because what a talent he is,” he said. “I remember saying in 2010 at the Commonwealth Games that he would go on to do big things in the sport. He’ll be world champion by the end of this year. He’s got the ability to dominate at the top for a very long time as he’s such a special talent. I’ve travelled the world with him so I’m really pleased for him.”