Howard Eastman back for shot at British title


Howard Eastman back for shot at British title

Press Release: Middleweight contender Howard Eastman has vowed to put his recent setbacks behind him and begin the process of rebuilding towards another world title shot when he takes on long-term friend Richard Williams for the vacant British middleweight title this Friday at the York Hall in Bethnal Green live on Sky Sports. The ‘Battersea Bomber’ is coming off the back of three losses, but the figures only tell half the story. The run has come at the very highest level and in controversial circumstances, supporting the 36-year-old’s conviction that he still has the ability to capture a major honour.

The former British, Commonwealth and European champion suffered the first of these defeats against pound-for-pound king Bernard Hopkins in February 2005. Whilst Hopkins claimed a clear decision, there was a definite sense that he adopted evasive tactics to avoid having to stand and trade with his heavy-handed challenger. The rematch that Eastman was allegedly promised in the ring immediately afterwards never materialised.

Eastman, however, was presented with an alternative route to immediately rebuild. His promoter Mick Hennessy got him the opportunity to meet world ranked Arthur Abraham in Germany just 5 months later in an eliminator for the IBF title.

He repaid the faith placed in him by boxing competitively with Abraham, despite not being at 100% for the fight. Unfortunately the judges, perhaps swayed by a raucous hometown crowd, saw things differently and gave the nod to the other corner.

Abraham went on to win the IBF title. Looking to set the record straight, Eastman contested another eliminator for the governing body’s championship this March, with the right to fight Abrahams at stake.

He met Edison Miranda – a tough Colombian with a reputation for being extremely heavy handed. It was, though, Eastman’s power that had Eastman rocked in the sixth. But ‘Pantera’ got through to the bell and staged a last rally in the next that proved decisive.

After backing to the ropes voluntarily Eastman, who claims he was luring his opponent in, was caught with some heavy blows. The referee jumped in and stopped him for the first time in his career, even though he was  firmly on his feet. Eastman has still never been floored – amateur or pro.

“Considering I have never even been staggered before, I was definitely stopped prematurely,” he claims.  “The referee should have known I have never been close to being stopped - and I have fought Bernard Hopkins and boxed Arthur Abrahams in Germany.”

“The round prior I had the guy, the guy was gone. I was working to my tactics. You go into the rain you will get wet, but I knew that was his last round left. I was letting him punch. OK he caught me and he was a strong kid, but the referee didn’t help my case. He should have given me a chance. I know in my heart I wasn’t really hurt - it will take a great fighter to really beat me like that.”

Miranda has since gone on to face Abrahams in an absolute war that he controversially lost after being deducted two points, despite breaking his opponents jaw.

Whilst the Miranda defeat saw Eastman temporarily slip out of world title contention –the process of getting back in the frame begins this Friday against an opponent who he feels has not mixed at the same level.

“I’m putting the defeats behind me and learning from the experience,” he adds. “I’ve got a good promoter in the mix getting me these fights. I’ve got to learn from the past and grab them when they come.

“Mick Hennessy has got some plans for me, to get me back into the world zone. I will put up a show against Richard, win that belt, and we can see where we go from there.

“Bernard Hopkins ran away from me for 12 rounds. Lets see what Richard Williams can do. This is a different league - a higher level of boxing. We will see come Friday night if Richard is in that league.

“For me, losing is not even an option. It doesn’t even come in to this. My mission is not complete yet.”

Despite his confidence, Eastman admits that the prospect of facing Williams for the vacant Championship he once held for six years is not one he is relishing given their history.

“I have known Richard for a long time,” he explains. “We go back a long way. Fighting him, it’s like something in my throat. I have got to swallow it. I don’t want to, but it’s something I have to do – I view this as one of the most important fights of my career.

“I have a lot of respect for the British Title. I always wanted to be a British champion. I felt gutted having to give it up, but I had to give it up when I went onto bigger titles before. This is an opportunity to win it again.”

On Williams he added: “I beat Richard as an amateur and surprised a lot of people, but I haven’t seen him fight for a long time. I don’t know if he’s improved. I don’t really look at opponents. It’s no disrespect to them, but I try to figure them out when I am in the ring.

“My trainer will tell me some things. He will show me weaknesses and tell me about what they do and we will work on a couple of shots. We develop a little game plan about what my opponent will do, so I do have plans in my head when the bell goes ding dong.”

Howard Eastman fights Richard Williams for the vacant British Middleweight Championship on a Matchroom Sports promotion at the York Hall in Bethnal Green on Friday 15th December. For ticket information please call: 01277 359900.