By: UK Boxing Writer Peter Mann


UK fighter, boxing out of Tyneside’s Birtley Boxing Gym finds himself this weekend coming up against the undefeated Matty Askin, in Oldham, England for the English Cruiserweight title. The fight, Dickinson’s 13th with a 10(3) – 2(2) is to be screened live on Sky Sports, has been on the mind of Geordie lad, Dickinson, for some time.

The first in a line of young boxers, Dickinson leads his brother Travis, both former Prizefighter winners, and young cousins, Jack-Lewis, Mark and Jacob, into the squared circle. Here, UK Boxing Writer Peter Mann caught up with the title challenger at his gym and grilled him on his brief, but packed career to date in a very in depth interview where he discusses from his early career right through to his challenging Askin for the English Cruiserweight title.

PM – So, Jon-Lewis, your professional debut was one of five opening fights that were won on points by yourself, but in four round bouts. How was your early life as a professional boxer?

JLD – It was good and having come from the amateurs it was a new experience to me. I had got used to the amateurs and being in a kind of a routine that I was used to, whereas the professional circuit was like I was getting back into it. It was a new start for me although it was the same kind of game but being totally different as well what with promoters and the not wearing of vests and head guards. But it was a great experience for me.

PM – With those opening five fights being won on points then, what would you say was the toughest of them?

JLD – The hard fight that I had to work for was the first time that I boxed Nick Okoth because I’ve boxed him twice with me ending up boxing him in the prizefighter series. But that first one, when I boxed him, although he’s more of a journeyman boxer nowadays, when I first boxed him he was coming off a couple of wins, or a win and a draw, or something like that, so he’d actually had quite a good little run and you know that something like that puts a little confidence into yourself. I think he was well up for the fight and he made me work for it over the four rounds. I mean, obviously four rounds was a short distance and quite easy for someone to put the graft in and he definitely made me fight in that first meeting.

PM – Talking about Okoth leads nicely into my next question. As mentioned, you’ve fought him twice. You won the first on points and the second with a third round KO to win the prizefighter. Was there much difference between the two fights and how did you approach and handle them?

JLD – I think I showed a difference in showing him that I had improved and that my fitness and everything else was at a different level when I went in with him a second time. I was back at Birtley and Ronnie (Dickinson’s mentor Ronnie Rowe) was now working me hard for the prizefighter series. I was in great condition and I was pleased as to how I’d boxed him again and show him as to how far I had come on in my career. It made a bit of a difference and was probably one of the hardest fights I had when I started out, especially working-wise. To show how far I had come was a great feeling.

PM – So, was it harder to fight Okoth the second time around?

JLD – No. I think how much I had improved was dramatic and I think that I controlled the fight really easy. To be fair he’d have wanted the second fight more than the first as there was 32 grand up for grabs. So, my boxing was more together, fitness, everything was too good for him on that night.

PM – Looking at the prizefighter and fighting three times in one night; against Krence, Williams and Okoth; what was that like? Especially as some boxers don’t fight that much in a year?

JLD – The night of the prizefighter was absolutely brilliant. It was and is the best tournament and night of boxing ever invented. The experience of it was unbelievable. It was great. I mean, you train for it, it’s like, I was fit, really fit and you expect certain things. I was trained for those three fights and I wanted to fight three times going into it. Like I say, it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Going through the whole night, the crowd, the way the competition was put together, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s just all good.

PM – Out of those three fights then, which was the most competitive or hardest?

JLD – The first one against Leon Williams was the closest fight. It was given on a majority decision and I can’t see which judge would have thought that. I won the first and second rounds comfortably. I know the third round was close but in my eyes I’d won the fight so for me to go out and give everything I had, then the last round was ridiculous when tying it. I mean, like I say, that third round was close and if that fight was to ever happen again then I would totally dominate him.

PM – So, would you fight any of those three prizefighter opponents again then?

JLD – If I have to and it means anything to my career then yes, but only if it takes my career on the right path. I’ve got Matty Askin on Saturday so I wouldn’t fight anyone if it was a backwards step. But yes, I’ll fight anyone.

PM – Going into prizefighter, Herbie Hide was one of the competitors, and favourite, but he pulled out after the first round. What are your thoughts on Hide’s withdrawal?

JLD – Yes, he pulled out after his first round fight. He was cut above his eye but the doctor gave him the go ahead and then Hide pulls out anyway to keep his so-called world ranking, and he’s never boxed again. What was that all about? Truthfully speaking, anyone there on the night, Ronnie my coach and mentor, everyone, will tell you the same thing, he definitely feared getting beat off me. He waited until I had beaten Mark Krence, and I had stopped Krence in the first round, and when I was being interviewed after the fight that was when Hide actually pulled out. I was right up for it. I entered the competition with no intentions of getting beat and I knew that Hide was in it and I mean, don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t at his best, he wasn’t the Hide that was world champion going over twelve rounds. The thing to me was that it was three round fights which I was experienced at and he was getting nervous. I definitely believe I’d have beat Hide that night and he pulled out due to the fact that he knew that as well.

PM – After the prizefighter you fought, and lost, against Wright and Turba. Both fights saw you pick up injuries. How did those injuries affect you mentally and psychologically?

JLD – At the time in the Wright fight I was winning comfortably and had him downed in the second. I was stupid though thinking it was over and I was going to finish it off. All it was going to take was another shot but luckily for him I went for the wild swing and then obviously received the bad eye  which there’s nothing really you can do anything about. I did hope for a rematch and it was actually made by the promoter in the dressing room on the same night. It was due to be boxed in the period between then and the Turba fight. It wasn’t until three days before I was fighting Turba that it was supposed to be Wright. I mean I went into that fight and got my jaw broken. It was a horrific accident. I think that, personally, when looking back, it was a blessing in disguise  as it gave me time off and I think that bit of time that I had matured me and when I came back I’m mentally and physically stronger and everything has worked in my favour since then. I think it shows a lot of character by continuing through some three rounds or so with a broken jaw and people didn’t know much about it.

PM – What effect did the broken jaw have on you and how did you fill your time off?

JLD – It was terrible. The first six weeks I had the jaw strapped with an elastic band. I couldn’t eat anything, the weight dropped off me and then, for about six months I was fighting to try and get my fight license back. But we kept on fighting and pushing for it, writing letters to the boxing board, scans, seeing the consultant at the hospital trying to clarify things out. It took a lot of fighting to get my license back and there wasn’t a lot I could do really. I couldn’t train and it was a bad time really. I was sparring with our Travis (his younger brother) for his run in the prizefighter series and as soon as I could get back in the ring I did it to help Travis because what people didn’t know is that Travis had picked up a bad rib injury in sparring in the build-up. Then he didn’t want people to hear about that and wanted to keep it in the gym so he couldn’t go sparring anywhere else. Therefore, because of this I went in and sparred with him, and with my promising not to do any body shots we ended up doing a lot of spar work before his prizefighter success.

PM– After those two losses there was the local affair with David Dolan. It’s been your only fight to date that has gone past four rounds. How was fighting for a longer period and how did you adapt, become accustomed to it?

JLD – I’m a true believer in that it’s what you train for and with a 10 round fight you train for ten, and with 4 rounds, you train for four. It’s a mental thing as well and if you can get that mental picture in your head that you’re doing ten rounds then I managed that fight very comfortably. David Dolan is a very fit lad and spent a lot of the time in the gym. He’s very experienced and proved it in the fight. I pulled through the seventh round and went a step above Dolan so it showed how comfortable I managed the ten.

PM – Ok, you have a mental picture in your head for ten rounds and was able to do the same over four. What is it that you’re visualising or looking at in yourself?

JLD – The way I look at I suppose it’s like if I said to you to drop and give me twenty press-ups, you’d get tired on the eighteenth (PM – Actually I’d be dead after five). But you know what I mean? If you do 20 then you’d tire after 18, if you do 30 then it would be 28. It’s in your mental ability. It’s in your head. It knows you can only do that many. It puts the message to your body that you can only do that many. I trained for the ten rounds and I was fit enough for ten rounds so then you just get on with it, your head does the job for you. Obviously I didn’t think I could do ten rounds without training or anything but when you know that you’ve done the training and got it in your head then I think your mind will help you get over anything. Plus I had never gone past three rounds before but in the prizefighter I did three fights in one night. It’s all different things and I’d never boxed more than once in one night in my life but then went and did three. It’s what you prepare your body for.

PM – You then went and fought Chris Burton. How did you approach and handle this fight?

JLD – With Burton I was again thinking that it was going to be a tough fight. I took it to be another ten round affair the way Dolan’s had been. They are both really fit lads and are put through their training. Burton’s like a gym freak who loves to train so I did that for that fight in order to go the ten. As it happened, when I got in my shots, which were accurate, and the power that they landed with, were in the right places. I just took him apart straight away. The initial damage had been done probably twenty seconds into the fight as I caught him with a perfect left hook and he couldn’t recover after that because, after I’d caught him with that first, initial blow, the shots after that which I’d picked were all accurate ones. I didn’t miss with any of them and was keeping him knocked off balance, keeping him unsteady. Personally I thought he did very well to stop on his feet in the first round because of the way he was wobbling about. All respect to him for that and getting through that first round as a lot of fighters would have dropped out but he did try and stop up.

PM – How will you be approaching the Askin fight? What has your training been like?

JLD – With it being another ten round fight, and having faced tough lads in both Dolan and Burton then I’d be approaching Askin in the same manner. I’m training for ten rounds, for a hard fight, for a war really. To do whatever you have to do to win a fight over the ten round distances. Just need to make sure the runs are being done, complete the pad work in the gym, even the conditioning side of things, sparring, and just have to make sure that everything is done properly. Have a balanced diet and to eat properly such as pasta, chicken, steak, the basic, staple diet of a sportsperson. I treat myself to the odd Chow Mein. If I had a kebab I’d feel terrible but eating a Chow Mein hen it’s like noodles and meat so it can’t be bad for you.

PM – The Askin fight goes as expected, what’s next on the Dickinson agenda?

JLD – After I hopefully beat Askin and the result goes the way that it should do then its Enzo Maccarinelli and the British Cruiserweight title, that’s what I want. Take it one fight at a time and once I’ve beaten Askin it will then go to purse bids for the British title and it will hopefully go my way. Maccarinelli has to fight again anyway in a rematch with his last opponent as their fight ended early due to a round having finished some 47 seconds early.

PM – What is the future of Jon-Lewis Dickinson?

JLD – Just to take it one fight at a time as I don’t think there’s any point in looking any further ahead because you don’t know what’s around the corner. There’s no guarantee and I have to win what’s in line first anyway and that’s the English Cruiserweight and Matty Askin, which is my main priority at the minute and then go from there. I want to progress as far as possible but won’t look too far ahead due to what can and has happened. You can’t take anything for granted. It’s like when I got in the ring with Turba, I didn’t expect to get a broken jaw and my boxing career was nearly over. That could have been it and I would never have competed again. It puts things into perspective. It shows how careful you have to be when you get there and how much training you put in before. You need to be a hundred per cent going into that ring because if you’re not then it can and will go wrong. It’s a dangerous sport and we go into the ring to hurt each other. That’s the difference with amateur boxing today, when I look back it’s a points scoring system but when you’re in a professional fight you’re trying to hurt each other and that’s what makes it two different games. Obviously boxing is boxing, you hit each other and you try not to get hit but in the professional game you have no head guard or the smaller, padded gloves. Professional gloves are more balanced out and I think that it’s more the ideal opportunity to knock someone out, and then you’ll do it which is the best outcome of a fight.

PM – Finally, what is it about your mentor and coach Ronnie Rowe?

JLD – Ronnie is great. I was at Chester Moor first between 11 and 15 before moving to Birtley under Graham Rutherford. I boxed Tony Hill, who was a great amateur. That was the first moment for me in the sport when I realised I could achieve and win things, medals and titles because Hill had won three national titles already when I fought him. I had him in all kinds of trouble and a lot of people thought I should have won the fight. It showed to me what I could achieve which is when I went on to win Junior titles myself. Ronnie took me on when I was 18 until I turned professional but the rules then did not allow for him to be with me in the pro ranks. Micky Duncan was with me when I won the first five fights. The rules changed after the fifth fight and he got his professional license just before the prizefighter so I had about a year and a half without him. Rowe trains me most the time, and then there’s Gary Barr sometimes pads on a night time and Martin Nugent doing strength and conditioning one or two sessions per week.

Jon-Lewis would like to give mention to his sponsors for their continuing support; these are Lonsdale, WM Utilities (Langley Park), and Genetic Engineered Supplements (Consett). They have been a great help, especially when things have been tight and a struggle.

If I’m going to do it then it has to be done properly. It’s a sacrifice. (Jon-Lewis Dickinson, 2012)


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