Jordan Gill has already had one boxing career.
For four years and 16 fights, Gill was treading water as a prospect going from Sheffield to Hull to Peterborough to Rotherham and back again fighting only one opponent with a winning record (Giorgi Kulumbegashvili). During that time, he never had anything greater than an eight-round fight which ended in the second session against Michael Stupart.
For Gill, his time spent with the Ingle Gym was a separate life, a separate time and career where the only experiences he really gained were the pre-fight basics of getting your hands wrapped, making the ring walk and dealing with the fans.
“There was also the case of dealing with people and dealing with characters in boxing and getting to know the business,” said Gill, who was getting ready to put his feet up for the day when he talked to Boxing Social.
‘The Thrill’ was in no man’s land when he signed with man of many boxing talents (manager, promoter, trainer) Dave Coldwell in 2017. Gill was fed up fighting men he was supposed to beat. “I probably needed three or four. I didn’t need the rest.”
Ironically, Gill’s first two fights with Coldwell were of the same description against Jordan Ellison and Rafael Castillo respectively. But since then the 26-year-old has beaten some tough domestic challenges in the shape of Jason Cunningham, Ryan Doyle and Reece Bellotti.
“If I had left the Ingles after four fights and gone to Dave and pushed on maybe I wouldn’t have been physically strong enough or at all good enough to win the fights that I’ve been put in now,” said Gill. “I might not have beat Cunningham or Doyle so sometimes you have to think everything [is] for a reason, take a step back, appreciate the experiences you had, appreciate where you are right now and what’s to come.”
What’s to come looks like a career-defining 2021 when his path at featherweight begins to provide the kind of challenges that will either throw him off course or prove to himself and boxing that he belongs with the world’s best at 126lbs.
“I’m 26-years-old, I’ve got no miles whatsoever on the clock, I’m fit, I’m healthy and I’m strong. I’m in a position now where I’m going to be pushed and promoted past the domestic scene and into European and world level fights. All I’ve got to do, I say it like it’s easy, is beat every man they put in front of me and I won’t be denied. It’s down to me now,” he said.
Rewind to August and Gill had kickstarted his 2020 with a resounding 10-round unanimous decision win against Reece Bellotti on the opening fight of Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp series. On the same show the headline act of Ted Cheeseman vs Sam Eggington gave fans a slobberknocker fight of the year contender. Gill v Bellotti, on paper, looked like providing an entertaining affair as well but it turned out to be a one-sided victory despite Gill’s hand injury which he suffered in the fight. This would be the first of two setbacks that would shut down the rest of his year.
“It was soft tissue damage,” he said of the injury sustained around the midway point of the Bellotti fight.
And what of his mindset and mentality when it occurred?
“You just kind of ignore it when you’re fighting. You know what is in front of you, you know what you have to do to win and, if you actually look back at that fight, my output was quite low,” said Gill (25-1, 7 KOs).
“It was just about manoeuvring Bellotti and just jabbing. I was lucky it was my right hand and I just used my jab and controlled the fight by manoeuvring and using my feet more than anything. I’ve watched the fight back twice now and I give Bellotti the fourth round and there were a few other close rounds, but I thought I won every round apart from the fourth. I did a good job considering I had a bad hand and obviously it does hurt when you’re in there but you do put it to the back of your mind and limit the use of it. You’re still not afraid to let it go when you have to. You don’t want to get beat and say it was because of my hand because no-one cares about your hand. You’ve got to use it.”
The fight took place on August 1, Gill was then out of action for around eight weeks taking him near the end of September. The hand is back to normal thanks to plenty of physio and ultrasound therapy.
Then came October.
“I’m not a lucky guy.”
Ten days into the tenth month the man from Peterborough tested positive for Covid-19. Along with hundreds of thousands up and down the land, since March, Gill found himself in a period of isolation.
“That’s the most ill I’ve ever been,” said Gill.
“I had a bad headache. My head was pounding. Have you seen Fantastic Four and that guy on fire? I honestly felt like I was on fire I was that hot. It was bad. A lot of coughing and fever. The coughing was probably the least of my worries.
“I was on the patio with my dad doing some pads and felt like I was having an asthma attack. That was the day after my isolation ended.”
Gill had just been back in Coldwell’s gym for a fortnight when he caught the virus that has for the majority of 2020 shut down the world.
“Everybody in the gym had Covid. Dave didn’t have any symptoms, Lerrone [Richards] was a bit ill, Hopey [Price] was a bit fluey but it just wiped me out. I seem to have the worst luck. I was probably the worst out of everyone. It wasn’t as bad as a lot of people having to go into hospital, but it did wipe me out. I finally had three weeks back in the gym trying to get the fitness up and working and improving. Just starting to feel good now and hopefully push on the next few weeks and hopefully get a date.”
That date may come in January on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s crunch rematch against Alexander Povetkin.
Gill is kicking keen to show the improvements that he says were not on display against Bellotti. A lot has been learned since his upset loss to Mario Tinoco last year as well as his time spent since recovering from the hand issue and Covid-19.
“I want to show the world what I can do and I’ve still not done that after that [Bellotti] fight but it was probably one of my best performances because of the ease that I done it in. At domestic level, I’ve beat some good names. I’ve proved I’m that level and above so I’m hopefully looking forward to some bigger fights now.”
Gill has faced some mild criticism for not taking on Reece Mould for the British featherweight title. The British Boxing Board of Control nominated the pair to fight for the strap vacated by long-time holder Ryan Walsh. Fighting for the Lonsdale belt was never Gill’s intention as he explained.
“Obviously, it’s a nice belt and everybody wants to win the British title, but I never asked to become mandatory for it. The Board nominated me for it. Our route was always looking to be an international route,” explained Gill. “They nominated me and Reece Mould to fight for it. I’m looking at Reece Mould, he’s had 12 fights, he’s never boxed anyone, nobody knows who he is, nobody cares about him and he’s no better than Cunningham, Doyle or Bellotti so beating him keeps me in the same position I am in. And in the case that there’s possible two or three fights a year because of the pandemic going on I need to be making bigger leaps, fighting for bigger titles and looking towards my goal of getting in world title contention. It just reinforced the plan, and the plan is to hopefully get a world ranking and push on to big fights and ultimately a world title fight.”
With that matter put to bed, Gill and his team are looking at fighters where a win can announce him on the world scene. The likes of Josh Warrington and Emanuel Navarette aren’t being called out just yet, but Gill is hopeful of facing a former world or European champion that would bolster his record and act as a springboard for 2021.
“Someone like Kiko Martinez who has been European and world champion and is still a very, very solid operator,” Gill revealed.
Gill feels he has some ground to make up. Not just from either side of his win over Bellotti but from his time spent in those first 16 fights mentioned at the beginning of this story. It’s not a continual talking point but it remains a stage of his time as a professional boxer that will be brought up until he begins making waves at a level far beyond what he’s been used to of late. In his favour, however, is the fact he has had 26 fights of which 25 were comfortable wins with no war wounds in the aftermath. The loss to Tinoco has been explained, criticised and debated. Other than that, he is as fresh as a daisy with little miles on the clock.
“It’s not ideal with what’s happened but you can’t change the past,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you get there or how long it takes as long as you get there, and I think that’s the situation we’re in now. All I need to do now is keep winning and these things are going to come. I feel like I can do more. I don’t want to sit here and blow my own trumpet and brag, but I was in the gym today and me and [super-middleweight] Lerrone Richards did seven rounds body sparring. He got out the ring and he said, ‘You’re underrated’. He’s funny because he’s a thinker and he always asks provocative questions and he said, ‘You’re underrated’. I said, ‘Am I?’ And he goes, ‘Do you think you’re underrated?’ I said, ‘No I don’t think I’m underrated because the people can only rate you on what you’ve shown them, and I’ve not had opportunity to show them what I’m capable of yet’. I won’t be underrated when I get the opportunity to show what I’m capable of.
“I understand that people might not rate me now but I’m in it to win titles and whoever they put me in against I’ll make sure I do everything in my power to beat them and that will be in my next fight and it will show my levels. Fighters have all these layers to them, and I’ve not shown the layers and adjustments. I’ve not really had to adjust in a fight as much as I can do. I’m going to be asked these questions and it’s going to be down to me to answer them.”
When the time comes for a significant title fight, and should Gill emerge victorious, he will be thankful for the only loss of his professional career to date. It was a brutal lesson to learn when his corner pulled him out in the eighth round of his fight against Tinoco last year. As we discovered afterwards it turned out Gill should not have been fighting after suffering from a bout of food poisoning on the day of the fight. His Mexican foe added to his mid-section misery by attacking the area and dropping Gill three times.
“I swear every time he hit my body a bit of my soul left me,” said Gill who admitted to being hurt by the criticism post-fight.
“I got pulled out, but I was saying no, no, no don’t pull me out. I will fight until I am saved from myself. I am that proud that I would rather die than get beat. Mentally and technically, I learned a lot. It was going so bad but I think it was round seven where I come out, got on my bike and boxed and I won the round having been dropped the round before and the round after but I won that [seventh] round. The reason why I was getting caught was because when I was attacking, I wasn’t thinking smart. I was fighting with my emotions because I was hurt, and everything was loaded up and that was inexperience.
“Now I know if someone hits me, I don’t have to fire back straight away and meet power with power. I can be quick, be smart, go for a walk and be a bit more defensively minded and that’s experience that’s held me in good stead. That fight taught me so much and I feel like it’s okay to take a loss when you learn that much from it, and the amount I learned from the fight is invaluable. I’m going to come back and beat better guys than him and prove it was a one-off.”
Main image and all photos: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.