For all the bravado, machismo, and his character transformation into ‘The Savage’, Alen Babic says that without the fans he is nothing.
The Croatian heavyweight, as ever, has talked the talk during this fight week for his bout against Damian Chambers tonight on Sky Sports. Walking around in a Trojan helmet, similar to what Michael Katsidis used to wear during his ring walks, has people either smiling or rolling their eyes. It’s all part of the package which comes together in the days before fight night. And while Babic will no doubt come out against Chambers swinging from the fences his desire to entertain the public is always somewhere in his mind.
Tonight, we will hear the roars of a thousand Geordie fight fans inside Newcastle’s Eagles Community Arena. An atmosphere that has been missed during the pandemic and Babic cannot wait to sample it and soak it all in.
“It gives me everything because I always said this is the fans’ sport, sport for the fans and, if I don’t have fans, I don’t have nothing,” Babic told Boxing Social earlier this week.
“And the fans, the ones who keep calling my name is why I get so many fights. I could fight every week because the fans want to see me. I feel like I have a lot to pay back to the fans and I’m going to do it. I’m going to put my life at risk to please the fans, that’s how far I’m willing to go for those fans in Newcastle. They’re going to see it, feel it, they’re going to enjoy it together.
“For the toughest, for the loudest of them I’m going to hang with my fans because that’s who I am. I’m not going to leave one hour after the fight. I want to be chaos; I want to be a people-friendly fighter. I want to do everything they want me to do. I want them there. I want to feel Newcastle. I’ve done my history. It’s a great city with a great fanbase. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be an amazing fight. I’m looking forward to drinking ale in Valhalla, in the halls of Odin.”
Babic says he is promising something special for his ring walk tonight. Perhaps, with the Trojan soldier look these past few days, we have already been given a hint as to what it will feature. It is, however, another example of Babic and the love affair he has with the public. His fighting demeanour has an on/off switch, yet a smile never seems to be far away.
Six fights in to his Matchroom career have already turned him into a bit of a cult figure. His seventh contest will be his first in seven months since dismantling Tom Little in a style we are becoming accustomed to. Time away from the sport has been enforced, however, due to a surgery which was long overdue. The shoulder operation he had was in fact the seventh time he has been under the knife.
“I had three big surgeries on my nose in three years then I had surgery on my right fist operated… I don’t know the name of the bone. I had one more, I can’t remember what it was. It was the hand, I think. Five big surgeries and two small ones I had on the left fist and left elbow.”
And of his stint on the sidelines, Babic said: “It was boring. It was hell.
“Two months after the [Little] fight I was still training for a fight in February. Then they discovered I fucked up my shoulder. I had to have this big surgery, which meant a big problem and they thought I wasn’t going to fight for the rest of the year. I proved them wrong. I cut the amount of recovery time in half from surgery. It was just stupid. I don’t like it; I don’t love it without the fans. I love the fans and to fight. I’m a fighting man and I want to fight anybody, anywhere. I will fight 10 times in a year, that is my goal.
“Even this year I’m going to fight now then I’m going to fight in Fight Camp in Eddie Hearn’s garden and then I want another fight and another fight. I want four fights to the end of the year. I want to please the fans as long as they want to see me. It was just boring, so boring without boxing. I give 100% of my life to boxing. I know I have five years to do everything I can do so I don’t want to wait, I don’t want to wait for nothing. I want the toughest challenges.”
Babic knew of his shoulder problem long before the Little fight. It had been an issue during his time spent working with manager Dillian Whyte while the world title contender trained for his first outing against Alexander Povetkin in August last year.
“I knew something was wrong,” Babic recalled. “I was just telling myself please hold on just a little bit longer. I need just two more fights. My shoulder couldn’t take it anymore because I didn’t stop for 10 years, and I just throw haymakers! I was doing bad to my body because it gave me everything I needed. I honoured it by giving it surgery.”
Babic, who has been campaigning at heavyweight, wants to fight at three different weights. Heavy, cruiserweight and the newly formed bridgerweight, which was WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman’s idea to bridge the gap between cruiser and heavyweight.
Titles aren’t of great interest to Babic, they come hand-in-hand as he says. Fighting in three divisions and being successful is something to prove for the Croatian. Something that he can show to himself and his fans that he is willing to take on any man of any size. Yesterday he weighed in at 209lbs while Chambers came in 11 pounds lighter.
“I don’t care about the weight; it has no meaning to me,” he said. “You saw what I did to Tom Little. All these bigger guys, it has zero meaning to me. I just want to show the world and the people that I can fight in three weights and knock everybody out inside two rounds. I don’t care about weight, I put no interest in that. I’m just a fighting man. And whoever wants to fight I’ll fight them.”
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.