Born and raised in the boxing wilderness of Ipswich in Suffolk, unbeaten heavyweight prospect Fabio Wardley (6-0, 5 KO’s) has come a long way in a short space of time.
Having taken up boxing late, the former recruitment consultant became hooked on the sport after a series of standout performances on the Ipswich white collar boxing scene caught the eye of local fans and promoters alike.
“I had a white-collar background.” said Wardley in an exclusive interview with Boxing Social.
“I’m from Ipswich, so there wasn’t really much going on with ABA or even boxing as a whole – it was pretty quiet here! The gym that I happened to join was a just normal casual white-collar gym.
“When I initially got in to the gym it was just to keep fit, to keep me occupied. They had an upcoming white collar show and asked me if I wanted to give it a go. I did it once and after that I was hooked from there. I kept going, doing different shows and ended up getting a contract!”
Still training in his home town, Wardley would sign with Norwich-based Shamrock Promotions, the same outfit that had previously guided the career of former British heavyweight champion Sam Sexton.
“Initially, Shamrock [Promotions] were the ones who I had my first fight under.
“They managed Sam Sexton and a few other boys. I had my own trainer in Ipswich, but they were the first people I got my start with.”
However, just two years into his professional career, and at just 22-years-old, Wardley’s career would take a dramatic turn, as he answered the call of heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte to aid in preparation for his bout with Robert Helenius.
It was a decision that would change the course of the young heavyweight’s burgeoning career.
“After I’d had a few fights, he [Whyte] was calling out for sparring partners so I went up to Loughborough where he was training for Robert Helenius.” recalled Wardley.
“That was the first time we sparred and we clicked and got on really well. We related to each other pretty well.”
“Dillian was someone I looked up to. He was the first big name who took me in as a sparring partner and gave me some advice and attention. After that, whether it was for the [Joseph] Parker fight, or for the [Lucas] Browne fight, he always called on me.”
Wardley spoke glowingly of how he and Whyte had developed a bond that went beyond that of simply sparring partners; with the Brixton banger proving to be an invaluable source of support both in and out of the ring.
“Even when I was fighting on small hall shows he would always check on me.”
“How I was getting on, how things were going for me – he kept an eye out and stayed in touch.”
“He [Whyte] has always paid a lot of attention to me. He has helped me along with so many different things. There is a lot he has done for me even outside of boxing, and I’m thankful to him for that.”
Following a frustrating and disruptive time with his then-management team, Wardley’s career began to flounder, with more fights being cancelled than made. With one of the sport’s strongest characters in Whyte on hand for advice, he looked to ‘The Body Snatcher’ for help in finding new representation.
It was a conversation that ended with Wardley joining Whyte’s own growing stable of fighters.
“My previous management team had some issues and things weren’t going well. I had fights cancelled at the last minute, shows cancelled – I was getting frustrated with how things were going, so I decided it to separate from them.”
“Dillian and I didn’t initially talk about me signing with him. I just said to “do you know any other managers or anyone you think would be good for me to sign with?”
“Because he has been in the game a long time, he knows his way around. He knows which managers are good, and which ones who won’t mess you around.”
“He said maybe this person, maybe that person – and then then he cut the conversation and hung up on me!” laughed Wardley.
“He called me back like five minutes later and said “forget all of that I will take you on. I will sign you. Come and join me!” – the rest is history!”
Now 6-0 with a streak of five consecutive knockouts, Wardley has also gained invaluable experience sparring some of the biggest names in the heavyweight division.
“I started off with Sam Sexton and Tom Little.
“Then I went on to spar Derek Chisora, Dillian Whyte, Tyson Fury and I got a call from Povetkin’s team as well when he was getting ready for the AJ fight – but I wasn’t able to go at that point because I was still working and had a job to maintain!”
“I went over to the Ukraine for a few weeks with Usyk too – I have been around some decent names and they have all helped along the way with advice”.
After a second spell with former undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk, Wardley spoke confidently about the Ukrainian star’s ability to make a big impact on the heavyweight scene.
“I think he [Usyk] has the best chance of any cruiserweight moving up.
“I don’t think anyone bar the top three or four [at heavyweight] will really trouble him. I think Dillian, Joshua, Wilder and Fury are the four that will give him trouble – other than that I think he has got quite a clear run.”
Having gone from the iconic York Hall to The O2 Arena in just five fights, Wardley plans to stay busy throughout his professional career, starting this Friday in Nottingham, ahead of another potential potential big night at the O2 Arena on the Whyte-Rivas undercard on July 13th.
“Number one plan is to stay active and stay busy.
“My last fight was in February [a TKO1 of Morgan Dessaux] which was a good start to the year. Hopefully I get through the next one [against Denis Lewandowski] and then I can just keep going.
“Dillian has announced that his fight, so I will probably jump on that – then I will be just over half way through the year with three fights.
I wanted to do about six fights this year, so I’m on the right track!”
When asked of his title aims for 2019, Wardley listed both the Southern Area and English titles as his end of year goals, before hoping to step up to European level shortly after.
“I will probably aim for the Southern Area and the English – clear them up.
“I want to get both of those this year so probably the Southern Area in July and then the English in the latter part of the year, maybe November or December. That would be how I want my career to go, at least for this year, and then we will move on and see what other heavyweights are about.”
Article by: Emmily Simcock
Follow Emmily on Twitter at: @emmily_jane