Conquest ready to build an empire
09:00 22 February 2014
Romford cruiserweight up for Commonwealth clash
Romford cruiserweight Tony Conquest takes the first step towards building an empire when he challenges for the vacant Commonwealth title at the York Hall, Bethnal Green tonight.
The 29-year-old gas engineer proved he lacks nothing in terms of heart when – after being stopped inside a round by Rotherham’s Neil Dawson – he scrambled up off the canvas twice to outgame Canning Town’s Wadi Camacho over 10 rounds in October.
The Jason Rowland-coached stylist will need to replicate the skill, desire and fitness he displayed that night to lift the title this weekend as Australian opponent Daniel Ammann has more than double his experience, is a multiple Australian champion and has dabbled in world class.
And former Dagenham amateur Conquest revealed he is completely over the shock loss against Dawson, saying: “A lot was going on behind the scenes. I didn’t warm up as I should’ve in the changing rooms and I got caught cold.
“No excuses, Neil won the fight fair and square. Good luck to him. Now I know to do things differently. If nothing else, I came out of the fight with a bit more knowledge than I went into it.
“Physically, the damage was negligible. I wasn’t in there long enough to have taken a beating. But mentally, I was in a terrible state and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me. My confidence and morale were very low and my friends didn’t really know what to say to me.
“But I gradually came to terms with it and just like when I lost in a round to Leon Williams in the ABAs, I emerged from it a stronger, better fighter.”
Conquest believes the defeat proved a blessing in disguise as it forced him to work harder, as a still relatively new convert to the paid ranks.
He added: “After just 10 pro fights and not much amateur experience, I was probably further ahead than I should’ve been.
“You have to wonder what might have happened to me next had I won the Dawson fight. I was forced to grit my teeth, rebuild and I’ll come back even stronger.”
A first-round knockout of Czech rival David Vicena was followed by the gutsy triumph over Camacho, who went into their local battle on the back of success at the Prizefighter event.
And Conquest revealed the points win came against the odds, saying: “Some of my friends confided after that they expected me to lose. Wadi was coming off his Prizefighter victory – where he’d seen off some of the best domestic names - and was flying at the time.
“But I was very keen to get straight back into the mix. I’d known Wadi for a good 10 years. We were quite friendly but he’d always wanted to knock me out when we sparred together back in the amateurs. Back then he was a couple of divisions heavier than me.”
Camacho almost got his wish as he put Conquest down in each of the first two rounds, but the tide turned the longer the fight went on.
“I knew I had to just get through the rounds then gradually start to push forward myself,” said Conquest.
“I knew that if I could take it to the later rounds I’d outfit Wadi and outbox him. Though I was four points down after just two rounds, by the end of the sixth I was smiling in the corner whereas Wadi was blowing. By that stage I knew I was in charge.
“Wadi didn’t move his head so I decided to move it for him! By the end I was hitting him with triple right hands.”
Some critics questioned Conquest’s ability to take a punch, despite his success, but he bats them off as he chases a Lonsdale belt outright.
“The only two stoppage losses I’ve had – pro or amateur – were to Leon Williams and Wadi, and both caught me cold in the first round,” he said.
“Dawson and Wadi would both have been weighing about 15 stone inside the ring on the night. Both are very heavy hitters and both had little 10 ounce gloves on. “Wadi has a monster (southpaw) left hand and Dawson was like being hit by death from above! Any cruiserweight hit clean by those two will go over.
“I’ve always said I want to prove myself the best in Britain before trying to conquer Europe and the world. That 24 piece Lonsdale Belt is the business and I want one to keep. That’s the plan.”
Before he can focus on such domestic issues, Conquest has to overcome Ammann this evening and he revealed he had changed his training schedule in preparation for the fight.
He added: “I’ve been constantly in the gym since I started training for my tune-up for Camacho back in September. I took a week off after Wadi but have been ticking over since and hard at it for the last eight or nine weeks.
“As always, I’m fit and ready for 15 rounds. I’ve made my runs shorter but faster-paced. Since the Camacho fight, I’ve also taken on board a new strength and conditioning coach called Joe Reemer.
“I work with him twice a week. We don’t do heavy weights but explosive movements and fast repetitions. He’s filled me with a lot of confidence.
“I’ve also benefitted from some world class sparring with Billy Joe Saunders – who’s not only a southpaw like Ammann but who also has fantastic speed and movement – and (ex world middleweight challenger) Andy Lee. Both are top quality. If I can catch them, I know I’ll be able to catch Ammann.”
Although confident, Conquest remains on his guard after doing some homework on Ammann and will be prepared for anything in the ring.
He said: “I saw him in a recent 10-round win in an Australian title fight and I saw his knockout loss to Brad Pitt when he just got caught with a good shot.
“I know from experience that that can happen to anyone. A lot of footage I’ve found of him on You Tube is quite old but, though he’s a bit rough around the edges, he knows what he’s doing and he’s a good all-round fighter.
“He’s plenty tough. Like all the Aussie fighters, he looks like a scaffolder! We’re certainly not taking anything for granted but I’m prepared for every eventuality. You can watch as much video footage as you want but top fighters rarely fight the same way twice. They adapt to different opponents.
“I’ll win because I’ve trained too hard and I’ve got so many good people backing me. But I really want it for me as well.
“I desperately want to be a champion again, prove myself best in Britain, then break through. Daniel Ammann is standing in my way and, Saturday night, I intend going through him.”