When it comes to having sparred some of the best fighters in the cruiserweight division Jack Massey has been there and done that.
The 28-year-old from Chapel-en-le-Frith has travelled to Spain to spar one-time world title challenger Youri Kalenga, had the headgear on to tackle former WBO title holder Krzysztof Glowacki and in Latvia was a sparring partner for the current IBF, Ring magazine champion and divisional number one Mairis Briedis. And, on each occasion, he has held his own. A confidence booster for your career if ever you need one.
Now, the former British title challenger (17-1, 8 KOs) has journeyed to Poland to do some rounds with WBC No.3 contender Michal Cieslak.
“It’s world-class sparring,” Massey told Boxing Social while in Cieslak’s homeland. “It’s been great. Amazing. He’s a world-class operator. It’s good to see how they train as well. It’s been good, tough sparring so far.
“So, we’ve been about a bit now. It’s nice to know the phone’s ringing for these sort of spars.”
All in all, a quartet of positive experiences for Massey who is hoping to return to the ring near the end of May in a big title fight. But and there is always a but, what about any sparring stories that were not so pleasing or in the case of the next one, a particular memory that has a bloody ending. Massey takes us to Los Angeles and to a time when he was sparring UFC legend Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. It begins as the most memorable sparring experience of Massey’s career.
“It was nice,” the tale begins. “I had never been to L.A before. We stayed in his house. He’s a massive superstar and we were getting about his house and chilling with him. He’s a funny guy. We had some laughs over there. It was great.”
“The worst [experience] was when I was sparring in L.A with Rampage Jackson, too. We had a bit of an accident. I was over there with Brian Rose. We were messing around next to the swimming pool, he chucked a glass of water over me, I jumped up, had a little wrestle and I think the dog [Jackson’s] thought I was having a bit of a tussle. The dog jumped up and I thought it headbutted my nose. I had a nosebleed; I could put my finger right through my nostril and it had actually nearly bit my nose off! There was no more sparring. I had to come home a bit earlier.”
Thankfully, he can laugh about it now.
The animal in question was an Andronicus Bull Mastiff. A guard dog of the former UFC light-heavyweight champion, which protected the house and patrolled the garden. Research shows these sizeable beasts come in between 110 and 133 pounds. Ouch.
Sparring is one thing, but fight night is when you have to deliver. So far Massey has only suffered one defeat in his near eight-year career. December 2019 and Massey would be unsuccessful when going up against Richard Riakporhe for the vacant British title, losing on points. The belt remains a prime target for Massey who is keen to get to world level one day by doing it the old-fashioned way.
“Obviously, take it step by step. We’d look at domestic first for the British and then do it the old-fashioned way. A lot of people are jumping straight up, but [I’d like to] go domestic then look at Commonwealth, European and then look at world level. Just take it step by step.”
Plenty of steps have been taken during his time in Poland. Time spent in the Polish mountains and walking about the city have passed the time for a trip that is Massey’s first time overseas since before the pandemic.
And at the next set of British Boxing Board of Control championship circulars he will be hoping that he has been nominated to fight for the vacant cruiserweight title. A win would represent the biggest step so far in Massey’s career.
Main image and all photos: Queensberry Promotions.