With Jewish boxing seemingly enjoying something of a renaissance, Tony Milch, fresh from his latest win last Thursday, has now set his sights on fighting for the British title.
Beginning to box as a 15-year-old, he enjoyed a successful amateur career, racking up 30 fights and competing all over the world including in Vegas.
Representing London as a finalist at the Amateur Boxing Association championships, he also won silver in the British Universities tournament. But deciding to stop fighting then, he said: “I wasn’t great, but was pretty good. In fact, I had a meeting set up with Frank Warren, but wasn’t offered anything as while I was good, I wasn’t strong enough to get financial backing at the time.
“After that, when I was around 25, I pretty much quit as I thought I wouldn’t make enough from professional boxing, and decided to become a professional trainer. Looking back, I’ve realised it isn’t about the money and if it comes off, it comes off. I wasn’t really mature enough at the age of 24.”
Moving to Canada to take up his new profession, he spent a couple of years in Calgary before deciding at the age of 31 to give it another go. “I thought to myself, ‘you know what, go for it’”, he says. “I came back to London as it offered me a better shot of boxing. In Calgary they like their MMA and Cage fighting, but boxing’s really small, so I thought I’d come back here and give it a shot.”
Working in Gymbox in Holborn since March 2011, he’s now three fights into his professional career, the latter of which was a knockout win over Gareth Shove last Thursday. Looking to ultimately fight for a British title, he says: “I’m 32 now and have to catch up on the years I’ve missed out from taking time out of the ring. Up-and-coming prospects can have four or five fights a year to work themselves up, but due to my age that’s not something I can do.”
In order to be in a position to fight at a British title level, he needs to get seven or eight fights under his belt, something he hopes to achieve by the summer. Once that’s done, he will then hopefully challenge for a Southern Area title, and if he wins that, it can potentially lead to a British title.
Keeping fit throughout his time out of the sport, he says: “It’s all about brushing off the ring rust because I did spend seven years out of the sport. People thought seven years out – forget about it.”
Training six times a week, roughly three times a day, he’s also on a strict diet ahead of his fights to ensure he makes his 11 stone weight for the light-middleweight division – a weight he’s kept with throughout.
Winning his first two wins on points – winning every round of both contests 40-36, he says last week’s win over Shove was his toughest to date. “He wasn’t coming in as a journeyman, it was his debut and he wanted to do well,” he says. “He was a cagey southpaw, wasn’t coming forward to have a tear up, but a fight, I had to change my tactic having never boxed a southpaw before, and then in the fourth round as he opened up for a shot, I opened up for a shot, landed a right hook and he just dropped. It was a really good time to happen as the fight was close until the knockout.”
Looking to move up to six rounds in his next fight – his previous three have all been four – he says: “I want to as I want to move quick, but not only that, I’ve also found that in four-rounders, if the other guy has a good shot it can go either way because if they get a couple of rounds in the bank you could be heading for a draw. I do take some time to warm up a bit, but fitness isn’t an issue, I’ve never been out of breath in the fourth, and I think six would be good for me. If it’s not the next, it will definitely be the one after that.”
And believing promoter Micky Heillet is the man who can help lead him to his goal, his next fight is set for 30 January at the Millennium Hotel, with a fight at the Camden Centre scheduled for February.
But in no uncertainty as to what he wants to achieve in the sport, he says: “I want to fight for the British title, and potentially, maybe a Commonwealth title because I’ve got that link in Canada.
“If I can get seven fights before July, which is realistic, once I’ve had the seven, my trainer will see if we should go down the Southern Area, or the British. But because of my links in Canada, I could also have a fight there. If I can get some kind of rating there, that could get me in with a chance of a Commonwealth belt. That’s the route I want to go down and it will be amazing if I could do that.”