There are many famous sporting stars to come out of Preston; Cricketer, Andrew ‘Freddy’ Flintoff; Rugby Union player, Mike Haley; and of course, the legendary Sir Tom Finney, to name but a few.Advertisement
But a new talent is emerging from the ranks and has slowly been making his way up the sporting ladder since he won at the National Elite ABAs in 2013 at the age of 21, making him the second person ever from Preston to win a Boxing accolade of this kind, with Roderick Allen winning a similar title almost 20 years previous.
Gaining trials for Team GB in 2014, which saw him go on to participate in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow that year, fighting in five fights during the campaign, Scott Fitzgerald eventually won a coveted gold medal in the final of the Men’s Welterweight competition, gaining him a dedicated and supportive following in his home town and new fans across the nation.
With reports that Fitzgerald’s win at the Commonwealth could stand him in good stead as a major medal hope for Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, he was snapped up by professional promoters, Matchroom, in 2015 before he got to make his Olympic debut.
Read more: Preston boxing club hail Lisa Whiteside for Commonwealth medal win
And under the guide of Eddie Hearn, he has won all nine of his professional fights, seven by total knock out and two by unanimous decision, beating fellow Brit, Ben Heap, in his debut at Manchester Arena by total knock out in the third round.
Following a tumultuous 2017, where, towards the second half of the year he was plagued with frustrating injuries, the 26-year-old super-welterweight, nicknamed Fitzy, is back and has his sights set extraordinarily high.
Fighting on the Amir Khan bill on 21st April at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, where, if he wins, which he fully intends to, he will be awarded an English title, Blog Preston caught up with the determined, confident young boxer, to discuss his defiance when it comes to winning, his influences, and ultimately, his plans for the future.
BP: Scott, how did you first get into boxing and when?
SF: My dad had been a boxer, but my mum hated boxing; they weren’t together anymore and so my mum was never going to let me do it.
And it’s actually a funny story because I fell off a roof one Friday night, when I was out, I was drinking, I was about 14.
My dad said to my mum that if I’d been allowed to go boxing I would’ve been in the gym that Friday night, training, instead of out drinking and messing about on roofs.
He agreed to let me go boxing and at first, I wasn’t meant to spar, I was just meant to train, but then I started sparring, and was doing well with it so went on to fight, but we didn’t tell my mum.
I won my first six fights and lost my seventh.
What happened then was my mum went to a garden fair at a school near us and a friend of my dad’s came over to her and said, ‘Oh, Scott’s doing really well isn’t he?’ My mum said, ‘Doing well with what?’ And the friend replied, ‘With the boxing.’
She didn’t have a clue! That’s how my mum found out, but she loves it now so it’s all good.
BP: You were in Team GB at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, how did you get into that and what was your experience like?
SF: Well 2013 was a breakout year for me when I won a National Elite ABA, which was a big deal in itself, as I was the second person ever from Preston to win one.
After that I got trials for the GB team and had about five or six trials and then they took me on in the Development Team.
The next year I lost the ABA after winning it in 2013 so I thought I’d lost my chance to go to the Commonwealth but then I got sent to Lithuania for the Algirdas Sockikas tournament, got to the final, and lost to a Lithuanian boxer but I won a silver medal.
Everyone said I’d done really well and thought I’d won it but they were always going to favour the home team.
I was then informed that I’d been selected to go to the Commonwealth and it was all over the news.
I trained really hard for it and got through five fights and won a gold medal, and you know, it was an amazing feeling because I was stood on a podium, and the England flag was going up in the air…and it’s something I’ll always remember, it was an amazing experience.
BP: In 2015 you were signed to Matchroom under Eddie Hearn, what was the transition like going from amateur to professional?
SF: I signed for them in 2015 but I broke my thumb, so I didn’t actually make my debut till 2016, but when I first turned pro I was training at Larches and Savick Gym, and then with Karl Ince in Preston, and now I’m with Dave and Mick Jennings at their gym in Chorley.
I only really started getting success in the amateurs when they changed the scoring system, which was more like a professional system, so my style was always up there, and when it came to going pro I already had a pretty professional style, and I’ve been working on a few other things since then so I found the transition quite easy really.
BP: Your next fight is on Saturday on the Amir Khan bill at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, tell us about that.
SF: Yeah, so, on 21st April I’m fighting a ten-rounder for a title, hopefully an English title so I’m looking forward to that, it’ll be a big show.
I’m sure I’ll win it so I’ll be looking for a British title by the end of the year as well.
It’ll be my first ten-rounder so it’ll give me deeper round experience.
And when I win it, I’ll obviously own that title and other fighters will want it, so I’ll defend that a few times which will give me more experience and take me up the rankings where I’ll be in a position to challenge for the British title before the end of the year.
BP: How do you prepare for a fight like this, as far as training goes?
SF: Monday to Friday I’ll train twice a day, and Saturday I’ll do a long hill run and rest on Sunday.
Twice a week I’m at the running track sprinting and I’ll try and do long runs in between, and then I’m in the gym sparring with some other lads; I’m on the pads and the bags, doing circuits.
There’s a lot that goes into it and I’ve been working very hard to make sure I win this title.
BP: Your fight last December was cancelled because you injured your knee. How do you deal with injuries and what do you do to try and avoid them?
SF: Yeah, I injured my knee, and you know, these things happen, and I really want to try and stay injury free now and have a busy year this year.
I’ve not dealt with injuries too well in the past and I need to learn if I ever do get injured again to be the best I can.
These last few times I’ve been injured, I’ve not been in the gym or anything after the injury, so I need to stay in the gym and try to do whatever the injury will allow me to do.
I can’t comment any more than that really because I’ve been terrible dealing with injuries.
BP: Who’s been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?
SF: Oh, my dad, Dave Fitzgerald, definitely.
There were times I felt like stopping and he said to just stick with it and everything will come right in time.
And there were times when I’d had enough of the amateurs and I wanted to go professional before I’d won an ABA or won at the Commonwealth and he said, ‘no, you can’t go now, you won’t get a deal and it’s pointless doing it so let’s try and win an ABA’.
The Commonwealth was a bonus and then I managed to get signed with Eddie Hearn, so he was right to tell me that; his advice is huge for me, and I listen to him.
BP: You’re turning 27 at the end of this year, how long do you think you can continue at the level you’re at for and is there anything you want to achieve before you reach 30?
SF: I’d like to win the British title by the end of this year realistically; if it’s a little bit longer, definitely before I turn 28.
Then I’d like a few years dominating in Britain and then by the time I’m 30 I want to be looking for world titles.
If that’s the case I’ll give myself another five years on top of that, challenging for world honours and making good money; and if that’s not the case by the time I’m 30 then maybe I’ll consider stopping.
But if I am making moves on the world scene then I’d like to carry on till I’m 35 or 36.
Winning this fight on Saturday will give me an English title.
It’s not as good as the British title but what it’ll do is help me in the rankings, so it’s all stepping stones really.
BP: What’s your fan-base been like in and around Preston; how have the community supported you?
SF: Well, everyone knows me and knows about my boxing.
I was on mainstream TV in the Commonwealth and Preston went mental when I was there.
Obviously, I don’t know all of it but I hear a lot of stories and it’s all great.
As a pro I’ve got a lot of attention but with the injuries, you know, and not building as much momentum as I would’ve liked, people can maybe lose interest, that’s why I want a really busy year this year to build it right back up.
I’m sure that when I’m challenging for these titles that they’ll all be there, and they’ll come and watch me again.
The future looks promising for Scott Fitzgerald, and with a win on Saturday, the confident boxer is sure to go on to achieve bigger and better things.
Scott is fighting on the undercard on the Amir Khan bill on Saturday (21 April) night.
The fight will be shown live on Sky Sports Action or Main Event from 7pm.