It was only his fifth fight, but Thomas Whittaker Hart was glad not to be fighting another journeyman.
Back in November, having already faced four foes previous with a combined record of 15 wins, 105 losses and two draws, Hart faced Jermaine Springer who walked into the SSE Arena, Wembley, with seven wins and just one loss under his belt. The 32-year-old Yorkshireman proved to be an early acid test of Hart’s 20-month credentials as a professional fighter. And while Hart moved to (5-0, 2 KOs) after outpointing Springer over eight rounds, the 25-year-old light heavyweight got asked the kind of questions that will stand him in good stead for what lies ahead in his career.
“I didn’t really want to be fighting more people who aren’t coming to win or journeymen,” the Liverpudlian told Boxing Social.
“It’s alright saying you look good and you knock someone out, but you don’t learn nothing, you don’t get nothing out of it. I want to be in fights where I’m getting tested. [It was] my first eight-rounder. I hadn’t boxed in over a year. It was quite tough towards the end of the bout [because] I was getting a little bit tired.
“I got a lot [more] out of that than say if I boxed another journeymen and it was, ‘Oh yeah you’ve knocked him out and it looked good’, but with that [fight] I’ve ticked a few boxes. Done my first eight-rounder against a kid who was coming to win. He was game as well. It was a good experience as well being in the bubble most of the week.”
Hart was part of the Matchroom bubble where his fight against Springer landed on the undercard of a landmark Sky Sports show which was headlined by Irish phenom Katie Taylor and ably supported by Terri Harper and Rachel Ball. All of Hart’s fights so far have been on Matchroom shows and he was delighted to finally sign with Eddie Hearn and the team in November.
“I was made up,” said the young Robert McCracken lookalike who is managed by fellow Scouser and former world cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew who spent his best years with Matchroom.
“I would say [Sky Sports] it is the best network to be on. Eddie’s shows are promoted the best. He’s got the best shows in England and now around the world he’s got the best shows. It’s like being a football player and being told you’re in the Premier League,” said Hart. “It’s that standard, that level if you’re signing with Matchroom. It’s just about now performing, keeping active and hopefully showing Eddie and the team that I’m here to get titles. That’s my next goal.”
Signing with Matchroom, fighting once again on Sky Sports and getting a significant step up represented a happy period for Hart. It was continuous good news that significantly bettered the eight months prior. Back in January Hart, as he described it, “weren’t too well”. A statement that was somewhat understated when he told Boxing Social what actually happened to him.
“I had meningitis. Strange one, like. I got pneumonia and meningitis. I’m happy it’s all sorted. I was in hospital for a couple of weeks,” he said. “When I came out of hospital it was a bit mad. I weren’t doing nothing. I was just resting for a couple of months but in March when I was feeling a bit better everywhere went into lockdown. Me and my coaches were taking me out running.
“When the boxing got put on hold it probably did me no harm because I couldn’t fight anyway. I was just recovering, starting to run slowly and then build back up. I weren’t missing out on much, if you get me. For other boxers who have been fit and ready, it’s probably been different for them. For me, it weren’t the case, once I was back training and I was fit I was just training all the time whether it was doing pad work in the back garden or somewhere else.
“I ticked off couple of boxes for myself [against Springer], getting back fit. In March, I was just starting to come round and have a little bit of training again. It’s good to finally be back in there, back competing, knowing that I’m fit and all the rest of it. All good.”
At time of writing, Hart has no date for his sixth fight but he told Social that he would like another eight-rounder against another opponent who will meet him head on. From there he wants titles, be it an Area one to begin with or the English 175lb strap (currently held by Dan Azeez).
The Rotunda ABC fighter is the latest in a long historic line of men and women to train at the iconic Merseyside gym, who went on to have success at both amateur and professional level. Hart can recall the days as a four-year-old where he would go in and “mess about” while his dad would train.
“I didn’t really want to box at the beginning but in the end, it was the schoolboys ABA [tournament] where I just went in after having a few fights,” he recalled. “I weren’t expected to win them. It was my first national tournament and I won it. I beat a good kid in the final called Tommy McDonagh. I think it was his third year to [try and] win them on the spin and he had 30 odd fights and I only had a few. I won them and then every year I was like I’m going to have to win these again. From there, you’re addicted to it and fighting all the time and then the next minute you’re getting asked to represent your country. It’s a good thing boxing. It’s given me a lot to be honest.”
He concluded: “And now I keep on moving forward. Keep on learning things and keep progressing.”
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.