Sam Noakes aims to become the first man to stop Yvan Mendy

It has almost been six years since Sam Noakes spent £25 on a ticket to his very first live boxing show – a hospitality seat at Wembley Stadium for Anthony Joshua’s match against Alexander Povetkin.

Despite being a 20-year-old amateur at the time and still a year away from his professional debut, Noakes made sure to arrive early at the venue to watch one of his recent sparring partners, Luke Campbell, in action.

On that night, Campbell sought revenge against a French boxer named Yvan Mendy, who had defeated him three years earlier, tarnishing his undefeated record. Campbell emerged victorious with a unanimous decision, in front of a watching Noakes.

Although Campbell has since retired, the 38-year-old Mendy continues his boxing career, and Noakes, now established as one of the country’s most promising lightweights, aims to include Mendy’s name on his flawless record.

Noakes remarked, “Mendy is a seasoned fighter with plenty of experience.

“I attended the second Luke Campbell fight, which was the first live show I had been to. It was the Anthony Joshua versus Alexander Povetkin fight at Wembley when I was 20 years old. I had sparred with Luke Campbell not long before, so we ensured we were present for that fight.

“One of my best mate’s uncles had hospitality tickets available for just £25. We grabbed them and headed straight to the venue.

“Mendy hasn’t changed much since then, I don’t think. He remains durable, aggressive, and packs a punch. However, he is older now and inactive. He hasn’t weighed in for a championship fight since the Berinchyk bout, which works in my favor. Hopefully, I can secure a late stoppage. It would be a referee stoppage where he waves it off. I must give him credit, he’s resilient, and I haven’t seen him hurt. The goal is to be 14-0 with 14 knockouts and to have a fighter like Mendy on my resume.”

This will be Noakes’ third fight in just over four months, following wins by stoppage over Carlos Perez in December and Lewis Sylvester in February, after only having one other fight in 2023 – a two-round victory over Karthik Kumar.

Reflecting on his quiet 2023, Noakes stated, “During a rough period, you can lose interest in the sport, but I persevered.”

“Last year, I was scheduled to fight in September, but that fell through, and then I went straight into training for December. Suddenly, while on vacation, I received a call instructing me to be sensible as I had a fight in February. Then, a couple of weeks later, I was informed I was fighting in April.

“I was in Prague when I landed, sitting down for breakfast when my phone rang and Al [Smith] warned me not to overindulge as I had a fight in eight weeks.

“This fight is significant because even on TV it reads ‘Noakes vs. Mendy,’ so it looks good. But ultimately, I am a fighter, and I don’t get caught up in all the glamour. As long as I am fighting and staying active, that’s what matters most to me.”

Being the first to stop Mendy would make a statement for Noakes, who currently holds a record of 13-0 with 13 knockouts and is on the cusp of world-level competition. With Devin Haney, the undisputed champion, moving up to light-welterweight, the lightweight division has seen changes, offering new opportunities for fighters like Noakes.

“With Devin Haney’s move, the division has opened up,” he acknowledged. “We’re not far off. I know Berinchyk is facing Emanuel Navarrete, and I am ranked in the top 10 by the WBO, so it would be great to face the winner of that. But first, I have a tough bout on Saturday, and I won’t overlook that.

“I never imagined it would come to this. My mom encouraged me to pursue boxing as a child – I fell in love with it, fell out of love with it, and eventually decided to give it a shot. Winning the British title was a significant achievement, but now my focus is on the European title against Mendy.

“I will reflect on the journey at the end of my career, but for now, I need to focus on improving.

“I am a determined individual. Some may watch my fights and think it looks easy – ‘you can just outbox him.’ But when you’re in there, it’s a different story. I may not be viewed as a tactical boxer, but I fight to win, and that’s what matters most. It may seem basic, but dealing with it is another story.

“Mendy will discover that on Saturday as well.”

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