CHAMPION boxer Shayne Singleton made history after sealing the International Masters light-welterweight title on Sunday.
After beating Nicaraguan fighter Santos Medrano over 10 rounds at De Vere Whites, based at Bolton’s Reebok Arena, the masterly 23-year-old became the first professional fighter from Colne to have his career recognised with a title belt.
And for ‘The Pain’ it was deserving reward for the desire, industry and heart that has been invested in the sport in addition to the sacrifices that have been made over the last 13 years. It’s been a laborious journey, filled with copious amounts of energy, blood, sweat and tears, from his days at Sandygate ABC, but 35 amateur contests and 13 pro bouts later he has earned the prestige of becoming a boxing virtuoso.
“Hard graft and dedication for 13 years and this is my reward,” beamed Singleton. “I’ve trained my whole life, missed out on my teenage years, going out with friends, because I’ve been in the gym. It’s all been worth it just to have this belt.
“I’ve wanted this title since I started boxing as a 10-year-old. I wanted to win a title, I wanted to be a champion, and I’ve got myself a nice International title now. But the British title is the one for me. That would be the ultimate. I think I can go on to bigger and better things. It’s still early doors so I don’t want to jump ahead of myself just yet though.”
He added: “Nobody from Colne has ever won a boxing title. I’m the first one from Colne so I’m making history.”
In front of a vociferous 200-strong ‘Barmy Army’, Singleton made his ring entrance to Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid’, swarming in to the venue with a confident swagger, unfazed by the magnitude of the challenge ahead.
“Walking in to the ring was an amazing feeling,” declared Singleton. “It’s always a great buzz walking out to every one of my fights with my support but this time it was electric, better than any feeling I’ve had for a fight before. It was quality. It was the best experience by a long way. I had a mad feeling from head to toe, it was a really good rush.”
Singleton was measured in the opening stages, working well off his left jab against his gallant international visitor, who had flown in from Barcelona for the championship bout.
Following the dexterous instruction of coach Karl Ince, the popular Colne fighter popped his jab and moved continuously, spinning well off Medrano’s sporadic attacks. Singleton was caught in the nose as the first stanza came to a close, but it was a shot that grazed more than anything.
Singleton had the craft to control the rounds with his piercing, arrow-like jab, a discipline that often rendered Medrano ineffective. Medrano dropped his guard in an attempt to invite his foe to step on to him, but when this failed he reverted to a swinging left that prompted a brawl midway through the second stanza.
The third three-minute round proved to be a similar affair as Singleton picked at Medrano patiently, but again it was the latter who forced the bout to explode with both fighters standing their ground. The pair exchanged a tirade of punches again before Singleton executed a combination to head and body following an impromptu Ali shuffle.
Medrano was clearly growing impatient, frustrated by Singleton’s resilience and agility, and again he tried to spark a riot against the ropes. However, Singleton reversed the action once more, peppering his over-exuberant foe with his jab before hammering the 28-year-old with several right hooks, following up the onslaught moments later.
Singleton restricted his foe in the rounds to follow, with Medrano’s flying left becoming all too predictable. In the eighth Singleton sent a crashing right hook on to the head of Medrano before working from his frame up with devastating combos.
In the ninth Medrano’s performance grew laboured through fatigue, while Singleton rallied with exceptional levels of stamina and from that point the belt was all but sealed.
Singleton’s performance was inexorable in the latter stages, sometimes explicit, as he grew superior. He rocked Medrano with a hefty right hook before forcing his opponent off balance with two blows to the top of the head. At this stage Medrano was clinging on for dear life, holding himself up against the ropes, and in the final round he faded as Singleton picked him off at will.
Medrano wobbled but didn’t fall, meaning it went to the decision of the ringside judges who scored the bout 100-91 in Singleton’s favour.
“It feels amazing, I’m over the moon with it,” said Singleton. “I’m really happy with my performance. It was nicely paced and I was just doing what I was being told to do from my corner - basically don’t do anything daft. I was being told to work off my jab and pick my punches until later on when we knew the chance was going to come to take him out.
“Karl kept telling me to pop my jab and move, just keep the punches going straight down the centre and don’t throw any wild shots that would leave me open because he was a bit of a puncher and had a bit of a dangerous dig on him. We didn’t want to take any risks and were happy to win the rounds off my jab.
“In the later rounds if the chance came up to take him, we’d take him. There were a couple of rounds where I got stuck in, which is what I like to do, so when I got back to my corner I got a bit of a telling off for it. Everything just worked out right so I was happy.”
After stepping up to 10 rounds Singleton added: “I felt comfortable all the way through. My fitness was unbelievable really and I could have gone on to do more rounds. In all my training whether it’s running or sparring I don’t kick on until later on and that’s when I push myself further. I’ve only done six round fights before but I thought a 10 round fight would suit me better because I can pick up the pace in the last few rounds when they’re tiring.
“That was a nicely paced fight and everything went to plan. I definitely think I could have stepped it up earlier on in the fight rather than plodding along through the first six or seven rounds and then bringing it up in the last few.”
And he was complimentary about his challenger, Medrano. “He could take a good few shots but he was grabbing on for dear life at the end. I tried my best to put him down in the last couple of rounds but I have to give him credit because he stuck in and managed to fight to the final bell.
“He didn’t hurt me. He caught me with a few good shots. I felt the thud in his punches but nothing bothered me or troubled me.”
Singleton won’t be rushed in to making the next step, but he admits he’s got his eye on an English or British title shot in the near future. For now though he’s focussing on polishing his reputation further, with a possible eight-round contest on the horizon on the undercard of Brian Rose’s fourth BBBofC British light middleweight title defence at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in December.
“I’m going to have a couple of eight round fights and step it up a level, obviously with the British lads, beat a few decent lads to get myself up the rankings and then maybe a defence of this title or maybe even an English title or a British title shot within the next four or five fights,” said Singleton.
“I could be fighting on December 15th on the undercard of Brian Rose’s British title fight, that’s just going through with the promotions so hopefully my promoter Steve Woods can win the purse bid for that and he’ll put that show on at Winter Gardens in Blackpool. That would be great.”
He added: “I’m very happy. My training is bang on, my coach, the lads in the gym, they’re all quality. I get a lot of encouragement from them throughout training. Everything is great.”