From caged fighter to the perfect pro

Hang in there: 6ft 8in Richard Towers has ambitions to stretch his talent world level. Picture: Lawrence Lustig
Hang in there: 6ft 8in Richard Towers has ambitions to stretch his talent world level. Picture: Lawrence Lustig
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There were people who would doubtless like to have seen this man strung up, once.

He let himself down and others in breaking the law to such a degree that he was jailed for 13 years, released after seven.

That’s what happens when you kidnap someone. But Richard Hayles is a changed man now.

And, when he fights under the name of Richard Towers on the undercard of Kell Brook v Lovemore N’dou tomorrow, it will represent another step in the remarkable turnaround in his life.

The unbeaten Sheffield heavyweight was incarcerated when he was 23. When the cell door opened for him, the free man headed straight to the Wincobank gym.

Now, after 10 straight wins, Towers, who is 6ft 8in, hopes for some TV exposure to increase his burgeoning profile, as he squares up to experienced Belgian Ismail Abdoul (40-21-2) in the sell-out show at Hillsborough.

Towers says: “In boxing, like in prison, you have to dominate. In prison you are either at the top of the food-chain or the bottom - there’s no in between. It’s dog-eat-dog in there and I wanted to make sure I got through it. One of the things that came with it was stamping your authority on things. I don’t want to glorify it, but I had a few fights for money and I thought I could fight, until I came to Wincobank.

“I came into the gym on the second day out of prison and spoke to Brendan and Dominic (Ingle). They slung me in the ring with Junior Witter, who taught me a harsh lesson regarding technique and movement; things I didn’t know about - I thought it was all brawn.”

As he turns 32 in August, Towers knows he cannot hang around: “Dominic said I was coming into the game mature, but not old. He said I had preserved myself well; not drunk, smoked, done drugs; not been exposed to the stereotypical 20-something lifestyle because of prison. I’d been training, eating three meals a day and sleeping right, and had time to see the bigger picture.

“He asked ‘are you here to waste time?’ I told him I wasn’t and that I wanted to learn and improve. I’m under no illusions that I’m at the bottom of the ladder and I’m working my way up. The likes of Tyson Fury, Derek Chisora and David Price are all winning - if I get to face them, all I can do is my job.”

Towers works in the community and in schools to warn youngsters of some of the dangers that landed him in prison.

“I speak to kids from troubled backgrounds about the consequences of getting involved in guns and drugs,” he said. “I try to get the message across that there’s no future in mixing with negative people. It’s about giving something back. I never had an older figure directing me, so I just want to give them guidance. If you help one kid out of 10 then you’ve done your part.”

Towers is rated highly as a fast-improving boxer. But he cautioned: “It’s brilliant that people are watching my career. But my feet are on the ground because a lot of things come with being at the top of the food chain. People want to be seen with you. I know how artificial it is and that I’ve got to graft and sweat blood to get to where I want to. The only way I can get there is to punch holes in people.

“I want to be a world level fighter. I can’t say with 100 per cent confidence that I am going to get there but what I am going to do is listen to the people who have got fighters to the very top with less ability, less determination and less chances.

“Ratings and rankings will all come as long as I keep winning and keep doing the right things behind the scenes.”