From Rocky Road to Richards: Fielding On Canelo, The Caymans And One More Title Shot

Dom McGuinness caught up with the Liverpool super-middleweight whose career is entering its final chapter
12:04, 15 Jun 2021

It was a surreal moment when Lerrone Richards crooned ‘Hot Cross Buns’ down a Sky Sports microphone shortly after winning the European title. Soon after, he was calling out another super-middleweight whose recent path has been every bit as interesting.

Rocky Fielding’s name was thrown into the hat after Richards overcame the challenge of Italy’s Giovanni De Carolis at the Manchester Arena last month. The Liverpool fighter last boxed in November 2019 – quickly outclassing Abdallah Paziwapazi with a second-round knockout – his only fight since being stopped by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez eleven months prior.

Few boxers have been busy since the global pandemic created a whirlwind of chaos, and Rocky’s no exception. Not many though, have uprooted their families and headed for an overseas adventure.

Lerrone Richards
Lerrone Richards

“Like most fighters, I didn’t know what was going on. I went to Spain to train and got back in March {2020], then two days later the lockdown happened. I kept training – March, April and towards May and I had a little bit of texting with Eddie [Hearn] asking ‘what’s the plan?’ He just said that maybe towards the end of the year there’ll be something. 

“We were locked in and then in the summer my girl [partner Jess] got offered a job in the Cayman Islands. We were stuck in a lockdown, didn’t know what was going on. Obviously, she couldn’t turn the job down. I’ve got two young children and I hadn’t spent the years with them since they were born as I’ve always been training. They [family] have put a lot on hold for me for my career for the past ten years, so we went over there.”

The Caymans – a British Overseas Territory – are situated in the western Caribbean, south of Cuba. Not a bad spot to relocate at a time when the UK was gripped in a miserable winter lockdown. 

“I popped down to the local boxing gym while we were there to do a bit of training,” Rocky explained. “Every fighter goes abroad and finds a boxing gym! I did and it was a good set-up. I got offered a job to be the Head Coach for the national Cayman team, and I was like, ‘well I’m here anyway!’ The standard was good. I did a few rounds with a pro - Charles [Whittaker] who’s boxed [Mikkel] Kessler and [Gabriel] Rosado. He’s still active now.”

The paradise dream, good as it was, could not be a long-term thing. While the Fieldings enjoyed much the islands have to offer, it was ultimately too far from family back on Merseyside. But rather than pack up and head home, they moved to Dubai. 

“She [Jess] can work from here, so we decided to give it a go. With the pandemic, what’s important? What’s best for me and my kids? Where do I want to be and where do I want to bring them up? We’re just getting ourselves settled. They’re in school now so I can just concentrate on training. 

“They’re nice people out here and there’s lots to do for the children. Football and gymnastics, water parks. There’s a lot here and it’s not too far for family and friends to come here on holiday. 

“There are a lot of boxing gyms out here as well and I used to come on holiday and do sessions at gyms here. I’ve been ticking over, doing some training, and getting my weight down. I’ll get my fitness back up and see what options come for me.”

For many boxing fans, the last image they have of Rocky Fielding would be the rueful smile etched across his face after succumbing to a third-round defeat at the brutal fast hands of Canelo Alverez in December 2018. That night at Madison Square Garden, and the reaction from many observers, still rankles.

Fielding Takes On Mexican Superstar Canelo In 2018
Fielding Takes On Mexican Superstar Canelo In 2018

“I got a little bit of stick off people when I was down [on the canvas], saying I was laughing. I’ve never had chance to explain it, but all through camp I was saying to myself, ‘if you make a mistake, you’ll get caught.’ And then I made that mistake that I’d been telling myself about. I got caught and when I went down, I was smirking thinking, ‘he got me!’ When I fought Canelo, I went down to his size, got opened up and got caught. I should’ve been upright.

“When I was getting caught to the head on the ropes, I was thinking, ‘it’s alright this.’ But the pressure was there.  In the second round I caught him well and I felt it right through my hands. I landed a nice left hook on his chin, and he just shook it off and was still in my face.  I was like, ‘oh my God, I’ve got ten more rounds here!’” 

Since Fielding’s bruising encounter with boxing’s biggest star, another Brit has tried and failed to solve the Mexican’s high-pressure puzzle. Billy Joe Saunders enjoyed success in his fight before a vicious uppercut shattered an eye socket and ended the contest.

“I thought Billy Joe was doing great,” said Rocky. “But then, there’s always that thing with Canelo. When he does step it up, he keeps it up and he finds a way. As much as he [Saunders] was frustrating him, hitting and moving, Canelo was closing the gaps. From the first round he threw that uppercut a few times, just missing and I thought, ‘he’s going to start landing this soon.’”

Post Canelo and the subsequent quick-fire demolition of Paziwapazi, it has been a period of voluntary inactivity for ‘Rocky from Stocky’ followed by the COVID crisis and a little world travel, both conspiring to put fighting plans on ice. But maybe not for long.

“My rankings are still there, there are still fights out there. They just have to be the right ones. I don’t want to fight prospects and kids that are up and coming who’re just after a name on their record. I’m not into boxing for that. I’m in it for now, to be challenging myself, back in with the top guys. 


“I’m 34 coming up in August. My career’s been great, and I’ve achieved more than I ever dreamed of.  I don’t want to put everything on hold waiting for fights. If something comes back at home, I can fly back and do a camp with Jamie [trainer Jamie Moore] depending on where the fight is and what happens.” 

So, what is the likely next step as the career of Michael ‘Rocky’ Fielding enters its final chapter. Out of sight and mind it seemed, until being touted as an ideal opponent for Lerrone ‘Sniper the Boss’ Richards. Is this a viable option for a man who has won titles at British, Commonwealth and World level?

“The European is the only belt missing. Win that and I’ve achieved it all, which is something, when not many thought I’d get past the English title! It’s appealing to me.”

Maybe another title chance then, and another opportunity to prove people wrong in this particular enduring Rocky story.

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