“It’s a mad old game-fucking mad, I tell ya.” That is the assessment from middleweight operator Jordan Reynolds. An unfiltered, straight jab of truth amidst the usual tippy-tappy shots of diplomacy that pepper social media platforms from media-savvy and PR conscious fighters.
It is fair to say that Luton’s unbeaten pugilist (2-0) is not on his own with his honest appraisal of the sport though, and as he prepares for his third professional contest against Randal Barlow on October 29th, he explained that he is wary of the perilous pitfalls that await professional boxers who take their eye off the ball. “Losing doesn’t just mean having to rebuild, it effects your personal life too, because people love a winner don’t they? Sponsors, people who are chucking a few quid at you, they disappear, and you think to yourself, man, I’ve got to start again.
“When you start boxing, you start from scratch, build yourself up in the amateurs, then you turn pro, and you have to do it all again. It can sometimes make you feel like you’re better off going to work.”
Reynolds insists he won’t fall victim to complacency, adding, “With these small gloves, it only takes one shot, you have got to be switched on. I will be taking my time, one shot early on the chin, mate can end your career early, you see it happen all the time with these young prospects, they jump in after an average amateur career, all guns blazing then get chinned.”
Ironically, despite displaying caution in terms of approach, Reynolds has started his professional career taking relatively risky bouts, facing sturdy tests in both of his first two fights, “I’ve had it hard; I’ve had it hard, mate, there’s been no messing around. My first two fights were decent, my first against Robbie Chapman and even Jan Arden, like I watched him, he caused a few upsets on Eddie Hearn’s shows, but this geezer I’m facing in October, he’s long, he’s tall, he likes to switch, he’s massive for the weight.” Despite talking his opponent up, Reynolds believes that facing Barlow-also unbeaten-will give him an advantage, “I think when I hurt him, I will put him away, because the other two fellas, they have been around the game a long time and they know how to tuck up and survive.”
Unsurprisingly, the man from Luton will want to avoid defeat and the heavy focus on remaining unbeaten is not uncommon amongst professional boxers, especially early in a career, as opposed to being an amateur, where it is all about learning your trade and developing your skillset. Tangible rewards are an attraction, and the Olympics are the pinnacle for every competitive amateur boxer, but as an amateur, Reynolds was more concerned about just getting himself noticed and, manufacturing those opportunities and taking them whenever and wherever they arrived, in order to showcase his own ability, win, lose or draw. “In the amateurs, I was taking fights on a day’s notice, two days’ notice, just to see where I was at and just to get out there, I started quite late, so I preferred to break out on the scene quickly, so I was taking anything. Said Reynolds.
“Even the Troy Williamson fight, I took it on three days’ notice because I needed to, he was Team GB, it wasn’t even about getting a decision, as long as I showed I had potential or what not, I knew it would be seen.”
That ethos from the man nicknamed ‘The Wanderer’ yielded plenty of success, sharing a ring with a host of top-level fighters, including Ben Whittaker (Silver medallist from Tokyo 2020), John Docherty and as mentioned earlier, the recently crowned, British super welterweight champion Troy Williamson. Unfortunately, the dream of competing at the Olympics was not to be for Reynolds but asked whether it had a detrimental effect on him, he insisted that it has benefitted him. He told me, “No, I think it has worked in my favour, because before the qualifiers, I was joking around saying ‘imagine if they send me to the first qualifiers and then I draw the number one Ukrainian’, he’s a handful, mate, he stops Cubans, he’s a freak, I said ‘imagine that’. Then I found out, they sent the fella who I beat in the qualifiers (Lewis Richardson), and I thought oh well, fair enough, he then got drawn against the Ukrainian (Oleksandr Khyzhniak).”
Khyzhniak went on to earn a silver medal at the 2020 (2021) Olympics in Tokyo in the middleweight category, but the feeling of vindication didn’t stop there as Reynolds also pointed out that the schedule and regime at Team GB were factors in him turning professional when he did. He explained, “On GB you are training and sparring every day, it is not just your career, it is your life, I didn’t have a year and a half to wait around. The only reason the Olympics would be the icing on the cake would be the publicity and becoming a household name, but I didn’t even know it was on, I didn’t hear anyone talking about it.
“I’m not anti-vaccine or anything like that, but I wouldn’t have had the vaccine because I believe in my own health. I’m happy with my own situation, it has worked well for me to be honest.”
Whatever your feelings are about the platform an Olympic campaign can create, there is no denying that Jordan Reynolds (without it) has still manged to capture the attention and support of boxing fans, even this early in his career. Fans have purchased tickets in their hundreds for his upcoming bout and he could not hide his delight at the response to the fight announced for October 29th, saying, “It’s great to just have the fans back, that’s the main thing for me, just having spectators there and entertaining the people is what it is all about.
“The support is from up and down the country, I was really surprised but after this we will be pushing on a lot more. Things have been a bit delayed but when you get a proper build up to a fight, it’ll be even better.”
As I enquired about the apparent close relationship he has with his fans, he admitted they are very much part of the journey and wanted to make clear his appreciation for the paying public and is committed to putting on a show, whilst also recognising the financial implications for those who are supporting him. “It’s all about the people, they work for their hard-earned money, so we (as boxers) need to make sure we entertain, and we deliver.
“You see me, I don’t look at it as like they’re fans, they are just normal fellas, normal geezers who are backing me to do well really. We are all in it together, that’s how I see it. It’s only right that I give back to them, they are working each day, some lads may only earn 50 or 60 pounds a day and they are paying for a day’s wages, do you know what I mean? It’s only right, mate.”
One of the reasons for his popularity in terms of support and the reason he has gained a healthy following is the way he has grown his social media presence. He regularly uploads videos, often of him strolling around his home town of Luton to the tune of ‘The Wanderer’ by Dion DiMucci, a song released in the sixties from an era that Reynolds admits he has a fascination with, the music the fashion, the style, It highlights his sense of originality and the unique sense of intrigue certainly helps with his profile, and although he does not upload the videos with any real motive, it is evident he realises the implications. “I’m a weird personality anyway, I just kind of do it. I do these videos and people either love it or hate it. It does help, it shows that because it’s early days and I’m shifting near enough 300 tickets, without publicity or press. Expanding on the social media presence he said, “I think you get to a level in sport where people begin to look up to you, like young kids, and you can use things to help inspire them, it is win, win, as long as I’m pushing them the right way.”
Jordan Reynolds will feature on an MTK Global card at The York Hall and is expected to come through this test with a win and he left me with a clear indication of his intentions thereafter, “Listen, on the way to those big fights, there’s always a potential banana skin and always other fighters coming through, next year will be a big year, I want titles.”