Willy Hutchinson is ready to embrace his potential

By Shaun Brown

THE fighters who played their part in helping Queensberry Promotions beat Matchroom 10-0 at the inaugural 5 vs 5 event all had something to prove but perhaps none more than Willy Hutchinson.

Hamzah Sheeraz was already a world middleweight title contender, Nick Ball should arguably already have been a world featherweight champion, Daniel Dubois was a top 10 heavyweight and Zhilei Zhang held two wins over Joe Joyce. But the name of Willy Hutchinson was known to everyone as just a light-heavyweight talent who was yet to back it up.

His humbling British title defeat to Lennox Clarke in 2021 brought echoes of an over-confident David Haye enduring defeat at the fists of Carl Thompson 20 years ago. However, in the three years that followed, ‘The Hayemaker’ won the European cruiserweight title and became a unified world champion.

Hutchinson’s career hadn’t received anywhere near that kind of success until June 1 when he handily defeated former world title challenger Craig Richards on points in a coming-of-age performance which the Scot desperately needed.

Boxing News caught up with Hutchinson over Zoom while he sat in his car, having visited Tesco per his wife’s instructions. Normality had returned to a life that was lit up a couple of weeks earlier in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

But before the conversation began…

“Well, am I looking alright? How am I looking?”

Hutchinson is a confident, mischievous 25-year-old who wants you to take him as he is. Once he was happy with how he looked in his rearview mirror, BN asked him how his life had been since his world-class performance against Richards.

“It’s been good. I’ve never stopped sleeping,” he replies.

“When I first come back, I felt ill, I didn’t feel good at all for the first three or four days. I never got out of bed. Over the weekend, I went for a walk and had a bit of food. I went to a spa but I was still coming out in bruises on my body and my legs were very sore but now I feel very good.”

As far as he is concerned, the win against Richards belongs in the past, and it’s time to move on. He also continued his personal choice not to watch any of his fights back, but he has seen the amount of praise and compliments he rightly received for the way he beat his opponent.

“And I’m grateful for everything,” he says. “I’ve been through a bit in my life the last couple of years. The nicest thing of everything from everyone is appreciating me now and everyone can see my personality. I’m not a bad person and I don’t claim to be a bad person. I only try and do my best in everything I can do.”

But why did he specifically make reference to not being a “bad person”?

“There’s some people before that tried to say I’m a bad person… I don’t know… it’s just not me.”

Hutchinson’s answers shift between the discussion at hand to something unexpected. The jokes, his light-hearted nature, his take it or leave it attitude are all part of what make him who he is but there are hints that life has been his greatest challenge over the last couple of years.

During his post-fight interview at the Kingdom Arena, he made reference to this but left it at that. In other interviews with the media, he has done similar which is out of respect for loved ones.

“It’s been family stuff,” he tells BN.

“I’ve been through stuff myself but it’s been family stuff [and] I’d rather not… I’d sooner not talk about if that’s okay.”

It’s a request full of respect and one we agree to in full and decide not to press further on what exactly has gone on. Whatever the events of the last two years, they have gone a long way to shaping the man he is today.

“It’s the changed the person that I am; how I think and how I am and probably made me more determined than anything,” he says.

“When you’re traumatised, you’re never really the same. You go one way or the other. The way I’ve took it is it’s given me strength and I believe God put the right people in my life to help me. My Granny, my coach, my manager… people in my life… I couldn’t have done all this myself, I couldn’t have. And I believe God people put the right people in my life to help me and make me stronger.”

His career is also in a far stronger position because of his 18th career victory. But in the 10th round against Richards – a three-minute session that will go down as one of the best of 2024 – the Scotsman decide to have a tear-up.

Having controlled the majority of the contest, Hutchinson chose to take a risk but the back-and-forth edge of the seat action finally gave Richards a chance of winning and, at one stage, he looked as though he could produce a stunning comeback and stop Hutchinson but Frank Warren’s man survived.

So, why did he decide to take that risk when you are on a clear path to a wide points victory?

“It’s a risk me coming to Tesco’s right now,” he answers.

“It’s a risk waking up every morning going to do whatever you’re gonna do. It all depends on that moment in time of how you’re feeling and what you think. Whatever you think is best for you, you do. You could see me in my next fight and I could fight completely different to how I fought in that fight and not make one mistake.”

Richards’ old dance partner Joshua Buatsi could be next in line for Hutchinson. Two days after the events of Riyadh the WBO ordered the two British light-heavyweights to contest their interim strap. The public had hoped Buatsi would face long-time rival Anthony Yarde but that now looks on its way to becoming a mirage in a Saudi Arabian desert.

“I want everything,” Hutchinson says about a fight against Buatsi. “He’s a good strong operator but he’s not good enough to beat me.

“The bigger and better the fight is, is what exactly Willy Hutchinson wants and I believe I’m ready to show that. You see that fight I just had that would have made me grow 10 per cent more because I done things in that fight I’ve never done. I’ve done it in the gym, I’ve been doing it all my life.

“It wasn’t just the fight where I boxed well, you’re forgetting I’ve never done 12 rounds in my life. He’s the best I’ve boxed as a professional. I boxed, I stood and had a fight, changed things up, now it’s all in the memory bank. I’ll tell you one thing I did and it’ll make you laugh. I climbed a mountain in Spain once and I believe once you do something once, no matter how you feel again, you’ll always do it because you’ve done it that time. It’s in the memory bank.

“So, I climbed this mountain in Spain, I ended up taking heat stroke. I got to the bottom, 500 metres away from the car feeling not good. I poured water over my head and left it in the sun.

“And, just before I get to the car, I took heat stroke. It’s funny in that way [laughs]. I’ve done it three times since as if it was nothing. As mad as it sounds, I get what I mean [laughs].”

Whether it’s Spanish mountains, personal problems or taking on the biggest night of his career, Hutchinson has survived and become a better man and a better fighter for it. Bigger tests await where his love for risk-taking will have to come with more method than madness. But, for now, Willy Hutchinson is savouring every moment of his life and everything that goes with it.

“If I’m not enjoying it then what am I doing all this for? I stayed in camp for two months. I came home on two weekends in six months, that’s a lot. If I’m doing all that, how can you go and do something you’re not enjoying. I want to enjoy all of it. As stupid as it sounds, I’ve enjoyed my sleeping, I’ve enjoyed being home and I’ve enjoyed my wife making my food.

“The ups and downs have been [already]. I believe all of this has come at a time where I can handle it.”

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