Features

Richardson Aiming To Prove He is Europe’s Best

RICHARDSON

Colchester’s Lewis Richardson is looking to put behind the disappointments of 2021 and go on to prove that he is Europe’s best middleweight at the upcoming European Championships, which take place this week in Armenia.

Richardson missed out on a spot at the Tokyo Olympics after losing in the qualifying tournament but is insistent that it has improved him as a fighter. Now, the 25-year-old believes he is capable of making a statement in his latest appearance at a major championship.

“I’m racking up these major tournament appearances now, what with the Worlds and fighting at the Olympic qualifier last year, but I feel like I’m really coming into my own now,” Richardson said. “Winning a medal would be a great statement and is absolutely the target and believe I’m more than capable of doing that.

“The whole experience of the Olympic qualifier was quite bittersweet for me. Seeing how successful they were out in Tokyo was brilliant, but obviously it was gutting not to get there myself. I came in as a late replacement and boxed well in the first round before getting the Ukrainian number one, which was always going to be tough.

“I do think I applied myself well and performed well, but it wasn’t to be. Usually you would get another chance but as it was a rush to get to Tokyo, there was only that one chance, which is never the case but I took it on the chin and has made me a better fighter and person.”

Richardson remained with the GB setup following his disappointment in France and was picked to represent GB at the World Championships in Serbia. He fell in the first round to the home fighter, but has turned his form around in 2022 and now feels like he is ready to prove this is the level he belongs at.

He states that he feels like a leader in the team and wants to repay the faith that has been shown in him by the coaches in Sheffield.

“I was honestly disappointed at the World Championships. I underperformed and didn’t rise to the occasion, like I should have. I lost a split decision to the home nation fighter and it was an important lesson for me. I’ve fought him since and won gold at another tournament, so I’ve feel I’ve put those demons to bed.

“Middleweight is always a tough weight. Everyone is strong, athletic and quick, but I’m no different and I want to prove I’m one of the best out there.

“I do feel like one of the leaders in the squad now. I’ve dealt with the pressure of the major tournaments and when I was picked for the qualifier, I was arguably the third or fourth middleweight at GB, but now I’ve cemented that spot at number one and I’m ready to help lead the group in a positive direction.

“I feel like I have to lead by example and be a role model to the other lads and ladies in the squad. There is a lot that has gone into this programme, to make it one of the best in the world and I want to pay that faith they have in me back and I think all the other fighters in the setup should feel the same.”

Richardson, like many, has been involved in the GB setup and is well aware of the reputation that GB have when it comes to performing in the major tournaments. He will get his tournament underway on Wednesday afternoon when he takes on the winner of the first round clash between Sweden and Ukraine.

He is also one of two representatives in the 75kg division for GB alongside Scotland’s Sam Hickey. There is a possibility the pair could meet in the semi-finals and Richardson has added that with so many fighters representing either England, Scotland or Wales, the chances of any fellow GB fighters meeting each other in Armenia is definitely on the cards.

“I’ve had 96 or so fights now and I feel that I’m fully prepared for this tournament now. Obviously, like every fighter you want a preferable draw, but that is out of your control, so you just have to focus on yourself. The other fighters should be worried about drawing me and not the other way around.

“GB fighters have targets on their backs, even more so now with Russia, who are always one of the top nations, not being there. Other countries will be looking out for us and there will maybe be a bit of fear when they have to face us because of what we bring.

“There is also the possibility of cross matches within the camp and the chances are one will happen. That will make us better as fighters and if you’re fortunate to ever see our spars, you will know how competitive they are. You learn a lot and when you get a chance like this, you have to show what you can do.”

As well as the European Championships, GB fighters have also got the Commonwealth Games to look forward too. Although never considered to be the most difficult of tournaments for the Sheffield based prospects, it is a tournament that can help build their name due to the media attention the Games bring.

Richardson believes that this is a big chance for any fighter who is picked for the Games to show their potential. Despite their success over the years, many of the tournaments the fighters take part in are not widely covered or televised by the media, so like many in the squad, Richardson is hoping 2022 will be a successful year in the ring, as he pushes towards securing his spot at the 2024 Olympics.

“The Commonwealths may not be the biggest tournament in terms of boxing but in terms of the media they are massive. It’s a chance to get yourself out there and make people aware of you. Usually we box in sports hall in front of around 10 people so there is lots of opportunity that comes with the publicity the Games offer.

“We are elite level sportsmen but we feel like we are undersold in a way because of where we fight. To get the chance to fight in front of a home crowd and major attention is something we all look forward too and hope we get the chance to do so, because as fighters, we really like it is something that we deserve.”