Chapman hopes for title shot against Nicolson in September

Now the real work begins for Raven Chapman.

Having become mandatory challenger for Skye Nicolson’s WBC Featherweight title Chapman is now within touching distance of realizing her ambition. But first the 30-year-old must continue her recovery from injury before she returns to the ring this summer. In this interview Chapman speaks to Boxing News about her time out of the ring, how she has coped with her restlessness, a potential media career after boxing, and what she thinks of Skye Nicolson.

(Interview by Shaun Brown)

BN: How does it feel to be the mandatory challenger for the WBC Featherweight title?

RC: Good. We’ve known for a little while. As soon as whoever won out of Skye (Nicolson) and Sarah (Mafoud), we knew then that I was going to be mandatory. It was a case of waiting to see who the winner was. It was Skye which for me was great in terms of a business sense with everything going on between Queensberry and Matchroom. A really good outcome.

BN: Is there enthusiasm when you find out you’re a mandatory challenger or is it too early for that?

RC: I suppose because we’ve known for a while it’s been a bit like Oh yeah, great let’s go and win it. The fight’s not happening yet. As soon as it’s ordered, and we have to do it then it’ll probably be a little bit different.

BN: When I last spoke to you for Boxing News you were recovering from an injury. What’s the latest?

RC: Everything’s looking good. Got the process of healing going on. I had a stress fracture as well and that’s healed now. I’ve got a little bit of a tear so it’s the next steps to get that to heal. We’ve got plenty of time. I’m not fighting until July. And then we’ve got the potential Five vs. Five at Wembley (Stadium) in September. Timeline wise everything’s working out. It’s been easy to stay positive as much as I have been restless, but I’ve got plenty of time to get back fully fit.

BN: How and when did the injury happen?

RC: I got a stress fracture and tear in my shoulder. It was just after my last fight. I had some niggles in my shoulder beforehand for a few fight camps. After the last fight it pushed it that bit too far. It’s a minor injury, I don’t need surgery or anything like that. It’s a case of resting and letting the body heal and then coming back again. So, that’s essentially what I’ve got to do with the right physio. The stress fracture is healed now but while that was healing, I couldn’t do a lot. I couldn’t put stress on the joint while the bone was healing. It’s now healed really well. That’s done and now we focus on the next part. It’s frustrating getting niggles after a fight. Not much you can do about it. You think they’re going to heal in a couple of weeks and they just never did.

BN: You’ve had the WBC news to look forward to but how do you cope with the restlessness?

RC: It came at the right time. I was moving house, so we’ve been focused on that. Getting more work in terms of doing media stuff, punditry work so things like that have been keeping me occupied. Trying to go to events, do more media stuff, the sort of stuff you don’t get to do especially when you’re in camp. Going over to Saudi I wouldn’t have been able to do had I been in fight camp. There’s been positives to take out. I look at everything as a good thing. Even having these few weeks of rest. Been in the gym a little bit doing little bits like leg stuff, working the lower body. I also realized I haven’t had that kind of rest in a long time. It’s probably been good on my body to give it that respite. Must have been a good four, five years since I’ve had more than a couple of weeks rest in terms of a holiday. As much as my shoulder was sore, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a niggle from the fight. It wasn’t until I came back and I actually got a scan on it you could see what it was. Everyone was like, You’ve had this the whole time and you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing. Yeah, I’m made of hard stuff (laughs) it’s alright. You don’t complain, you just get on with it. It’s forced me to have that break which is something I naturally wouldn’t do. And I just had to embrace it as much as I can. It’s been nice to relax and focus on life outside of boxing. Getting happy in my new home, and everything like that.

BN: What was it like being in Saudi Arabia for the Joshua-Ngannou fight and doing media work?

RC: I was working with BBC 5 Live. It was a really good experience. Just a flying visit for me. I got there the day before. Friday very busy and then left Saturday morning. The people were all really friendly, the food was very good. It was great to be able to work alongside two legends in boxing media with Steve Bunce and Adam Smith. I learned a lot from both of them and I got a really good seat (laughs). I learned a lot. I got good feedback in terms of the work that I did as well as a lot of good tips moving forward. It’s nights like that which are also very invaluable thinking about the end of my boxing career where I’ve already got experience doing that kind of work. I want to stay in that sort of game when I’ve finished boxing, and I can turn my skills to something else. I’ve got good contacts and good work behind me. It’s been really good and getting to work with TNT as well doing some interviews and some commentating. Again, very invaluable experience. It gives me confidence doing that because when I first started out and you start speaking to the media it’s more nerve-wracking than fighting because it’s not what I naturally do. I feel like I’m good at it now and would definitely be able to improve and get better and make more of a career after boxing.

BN: At a show in February, you had a face-off with Skye Nicolson. How did that happen?

RC: We were at the same boxing event, someone in her gym was fighting. I think it was Sam Noakes. We had a friendly hello as we walked past her, and my dad jokingly thought it’d be a great idea having a face-off. That’s how that happened. That’s the real story. The fake story is that she was on my turf (laughs).

BN: What do you think of her as a fighter? Do you rate her?

RC: As a fighter she’s very good. She’s got that amateur pedigree – Olympian. Very good at what she does. She’s tricky and has a tricky style of fighting. It might not be the most pleasing to the audience, but it works and that’s what she does. The one thing I’ll say is the fighters that she’s been against, they’re all fighters where that style works against them. No-one’s been much of a mover. They’ve all been very straight-lined, no head movement and just come forward. Against a fighter like Skye, you just can’t do that because you’ll never get close.

BN: You’re coming back in July but you’re also the WBC Featherweight title mandatory challenger. What kind of fight are you looking for given this will be the first fight since your injury.

RC: I think we’re having the same opponent as I was meant to fight in March (Yohana Sarabia). Look at try and get another title on the line, maybe the WBC interim if we can. You can’t look past an opponent; you’ve got to get through this opponent first to make sure I cement that fight (against Nicolson) hopefully in September. The next opponent will be similar to Skye in the fact she’s quite cagey and boxes on the back foot as well. It means I’ll get a lot of prep for when that fight does come.

BN: It’s looking like a huge year for you then. Everything is coming together as you close in that world title shot. So, are you taking it all in your stride?

RC: You’ve got to. You can’t get ahead of yourself. You can’t get over-excited. That’s not who I am anyway. I’m happy to be on my path and do what I do. Everything is coming together when it should, and I feel like this year is my year. I’m just itching to get back in there having all this information. I can get back to some proper training again which is amazing. Get my fitness back up, get my strength back up, get that sharpness. I’ve got plenty of time and that’s what I need to remind myself. I can start training through this injury properly. I can be back in the gym. It’s all coming together when it should.

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