Former K1 star Sugden has the boxing kick

Newark’s Chad Sugden excelled as a kickboxer before opting to take the path of boxing. Now he is aiming for his first significant championship as a boxer when he meets Birmingham’s rangy Shakan Pitters for the vacant British light-heavyweight title at a purpose-built production studio in Redditch on August 22 (live on Channel 5 in the UK).

Sudgen (11-1-1, 4 KOs) hails from a fighting family with father Dean a former world kickboxing champion, brother Regis an unbeaten pro welterweight and young brother Bailey another K1 competitor. He originally started in boxing and kickboxing aged five before eventually settling on ‘the sweet science’.

“I started competing in light contact martial arts at eight or nine, had my first amateur boxing bout at just 11 and pursued both sports alongside each other during my teens. But I always loved boxing more,” said Sugden. “That’s what I watched on the television and my idols were boxers as opposed to martial artists. Most of my wins in kick-boxing were down to my hands. I always sparred pro boxers, to keep my hands sharp.

“I had 20 odd amateur fights, got beat in a national junior final and won the Senior Midland ABAs. At 17, I didn’t think I was quite ready to box professionally but accepted a pro kick-boxing contract. When the ABA got wind that I was fighting for money they revoked my amateur boxing card.”

The fighting Sugdens: (left to right) Regis, Dean (father), Bailey, Chad

Using all limbs as weapons, Sugden won an ISKA world title, fighting in the US, Middle East, Asia and Europe for five figure purses. “I got used to doing all the press conferences and fighting away from home as an underdog, before huge, fanatical audiences – all experiences that transfer over [to boxing],” said Sugden.

“But I always knew professional boxing was where I wanted to go. The exposure was that much greater. I’d been struggling for a bit with a stress fracture at the bottom of my spine and all the kicking wasn’t helping it. At 21, I finally took the plunge.

“With boxing, there’s less weapons to worry about, two less limbs to avoid and the martial fights were shorter, five rounds maximum. Though the kick-boxing is a bit jumpy, darting in and out of range, you had to plant your feet for K1 or you get wiped out.’

Sugden (right) was a successful kickboxer, but usually settled matters with his fists.

The 26-year-old sprung to prominence in boxing with an eye-catching, eight-round draw against former British title challenger Craig Richards at the York Hall last December, despite suffering a broken nose in sparring with WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders shortly beforehand.

“Billy Joe Saunders had broken my nose with a big uppercut in sparring but I couldn’t turn Craig Richards down,” said Sugden. “The nose went again in round two and, after that, I just had to focus on nicking rounds. While I can still see and my arms are still working, I’ll fight, man.  Craig says he was robbed but no one else was saying that. Though I thought it was close on the night, when I watched it back I thought I edged it by a round.”

Sugden believes the fight with the unbeaten Pitters, live before a national Channel Five audience, will be his coming out party as a boxer.

“I’m an old school, all round operator; a slick, aggressive counter puncher who moves well. I fight every fight differently,” he said. “I bring a presence to the ring. I’m very strong. I’m not the biggest knockout puncher but I’ve stopped a few with body shots.

“I definitely want to defend the belt three times then move on. I’ve aspirations of European and world titles. The British light-heavyweight scene is so strong at the minute. If you’re a player here, you’re a player at world level.”