Rylan Charlton has a dream.
It was a Volkswagen Camper van then within seconds the idea got bigger. Picture one of the big old American school buses ripped out, converted, with a log burner and all sorts.
“I did used to have a camper van, a Ford Transit which I kitted out myself which was fun. I lived in that for about six months. Travelled around, went down the English coast, went to Cornwall and done a bit of surfing. I love living out of a van, it’s quite fun until it got to the winter and it got a bit chilly.”
Charlton was talking to Boxing Social during preparations for his welterweight tussle with Florian Marku on Saturday night. It was a fight that appeared to be discussed on Twitter before the boring stuff got sorted behind the scenes. A second consecutive win on Sky Sports for Charlton will open the eyes of more boxing fans after some took note of his demolition job over vocal Geordie Joseph Laws last October.
Things could then snowball. If the heavy hands keep blasting people away with little effort, then the reputation will increase. Media coverage will double and then before you know it Eddie Hearn will have a tongue in cheek nickname for him just like he gave Lewis Ritson and more recently James Tennyson. The moniker of ‘Pint-Sized Powerhouse’ suits Charlton just fine. And the 28-year-old is ready for the level of attention that could come his way followed by the money that could one day get him that bus.
“Anything new to me is another challenge,” he tells us. “The boxing side of it is great but when you get all the interviews and stuff, I think it’s good. I’m looking forward to that side of it. It’s all new and part of the journey. Bring it on. I love all that sort of stuff.”
You could describe Charlton as one of boxing’s free spirits. The sport isn’t the be all and end all for him. His job as a chef in a Care Home in Norfolk is one which he cherishes. Charlton is adamant that for now he will not walk away from his daily life of preparing meals and baking cakes for the residents of Carleton House.
“You’ve got your boxing which is full on and then you’ve got the nice care home job which is a bit relaxing. I may cut down to part-time but I’m not ready to completely quit yet.”
Some of the Carleton House regulars are aware of his other job.
“I’ve been in the local paper with one of them which was a laugh. It’s nice for them especially if we get the place in the paper. They’re all happy. They don’t get to see me on TV, unfortunately they don’t have Sky there. They enjoy me working there. I cook them some nice food and bake them some nice cakes, they would miss me if I left so I think I have to stay a bit longer.”
For all the dreams of a converted bus with a log burner and resurrecting his travel bug to far flung corners of the world once his boxing career is over, Charlton isn’t treating his fight with Marku as if he’s lying on his back listening to Bob Dylan. His conditioning is already evidence to the contrary as has been his sparring with the likes of Joe Cordina, Martin J. Ward, Archie Sharp and Ted Cheeseman. Marku can match Charlton for his physique and can possibly equal his power, too. It’s an intriguing fight that has caught fire.
“As soon as I beat Laws, I was getting called out left, right and centre from lots of different people,” he recalls.
“I know the calling out thing is part of boxing but it’s not really my style, I’m not really fussed. I’ll just wait until my manager or promoter tells me who I’m fighting. He [Marku] kept calling me out and how he really wants to fight me, and I said okay we can fight, we’ll get a weight sorted. Then Matchroom said we really want this fight and I thought fantastic let’s go then. And now here we are, he called me out and he’s got what he asked for.”
Matchroom didn’t exactly get what they asked for when Charlton cut down Laws last year. Charlton (6-0-1, 3 KOs) has been in the jungle before and it looked like his opponent was a tree and Charlton’s hands were the machetes cutting through it with ease. It wasn’t an audition for Charlton, it was expected that Laws would win and carry on the mini boom for boxing in the North East.
After some negotiating Charlton would then receive a multi-fight contract from Matchroom. A deal that the fighter and his team were pleased with. It could be described as a callback.
“To start with they wanted me to be like a glorified journeyman,” he revealed.
“They wanted me to fight people like their prospects and basically use me as bait but be entertaining. We said we want an actual multi-fight contract and when my next opponent Marku popped up they [Matchroom] thought we’ll sign them both and make it into a big fight. And then they finally sent out the contract which I was pleased with. We were pleased with that and we signed it and here we are in my first ten round fight and it’s going to be a good one.
“I’ve got to beat Marku and then they’ll be really backing me. I feel like I’ve got to get this one out the way and then they’ll be fully behind me,” Charlton said of his belief in Matchroom’s confidence in him.
Writer’s note: On Thursday Eddie Hearn was asked on Instagram, ‘How far do you think Rylan Charlton can go?’ He replied, ‘Ask me Sunday morning’.
“Marku is still probably the favourite in this fight,” Charlton continued. “I kind of find it to be just another Laws fight, I think. I feel like I’m still probably trying to be used as the bait. It’s another thing to really boost my profile which is great. I don’t mind boxing on Sky because it’s a huge profile. I can steal some of their followers and build my own profile. I feel normal about it.”
Charlton doesn’t know what his boxing ceiling his. His mind isn’t filled with ambition and goals set out that read, ‘By the end of 2021 I must be…’ Again, it reflects his character. Boxing fills a large part of his life but for him there is more going on in the world.
“I want to see what’s out there and what there is to offer.”
For now, he won’t say the cliché, but it is one fight at a time for him. And one day if that fight happens to be for a British title, then a European title and then a World title then okay. We can’t simply say that Rylan Charlton won’t change in the future. Money and fame can cause unfathomable problems, particularly in boxing, but this fighter from Norwich is different and it’s hard to shake the opinion he won’t be anything other than grounded and normal. If he goes on to achieve a big purse one day then that means he can buy a nice house, get that bus and go abroad with some money in his pocket.
Back to Marku and the task at hand on Saturday.
“All I see is another big-ticket seller. I don’t see anything special in him whatsoever. I see a guy that’s fit and strong, who is coming to win, and anyone who puts on them 8oz gloves is dangerous. But you’ve got to be able to box and I don’t see him backing it up whatsoever especially after his last performance [against Jamie Stewart]. He’s in a bit too deep now.”
Main image and all photos: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.