Tibbs making his mark on boxing scene

PUBLISHED: 18:00 28 December 2016

Mark Tibbs with British heavyweight champion Dillian Whyte (pic Steve Welsh)

Mark Tibbs with British heavyweight champion Dillian Whyte (pic Steve Welsh)


East London trainer reflects on career to date

Mark Tibbs with Tom Baker Mark Tibbs with Tom Baker

Mark Tibbs followed in the footsteps of his father Jimmy as a star amateur who became a successful pro boxer, but missed out on championship honours before becoming a highly-respected trainer.

Now 47, he has worked with his father in training star names, including current world champion Billy Joe Saunders, but was recently called up by British heavyweight champion Dillian Whyte and also trains unbeaten prospects Tom Baker and Sammy McNess.

Tibbs lives in Barking with wife Melissa and their son Mark Abraham, but they are set for a move to Upminster in the near future.

He currently trains his fighters at Canning Town’s Peacock gym, where Len Whaley caught up with him for a special Q&A session.

Mark Tibbs with wife Melissa and son Mark Mark Tibbs with wife Melissa and son Mark

LW: What are your first boxing memories?

MT: Walking into a gym when I was about four or five years of age with my uncle Den Doherty. I think it was the old Repton gym in Pollards Row, Bethnal Green. before they took over their current HQ where I trained as an amateur for years.

LW: Who was your favourite fighter?

MT: Alexis Arguello, the all-time great Nicaraguan. He was a three-weight world champion in the 1970s and 80s who never lost a world title in the ring. He beat some top quality opposition in superb bouts, including a visit to London where he outpointed Scot Jim Watt in 1981. Alexis later became a leading politician in his own country before his death in 2009.

LW: What’s your favourite-ever fight?

MT: Joe Calzaghe’s superb performance in beating feared American star Jeff ‘Left hook’ Lacey at the MEN Arena, Manchester in 2006.

Joe was the underdog against the big puncher from Florida but instead controlled the fight from the opening bell for a great victory.

Joe’s record speaks for itself, with 46 straight victories and he’s a real nice guy. When I met him he certainly knew more about me than I imagined.

LW: What is your biggest regret?

MT: I turned pro too early. I was a 19-year-old who had won national schoolboy and junior titles at Repton Boxing Club and had just broken on to the international scene when I made the decision to turn pro.

Looking back I should have stayed amateur for another year or so and had more experience in international matches and top competitions which would have come my way.

I had 25 pro fights and retired after just two defeats at the age of 24, but I feel I could have achieved more if I had stayed on as a senior at Repton and gained valuable experience on the international scene.

LW: What is your proudest boxing moment?

MT: Billy Joe Saunders’ world middleweight title win over Andy Lee in Manchester in December 2015, Dad and I worked so well with Billy Joe in the build-up and he was magnificent on the night as he floored the WBO champion twice on his way to a points victory.

There have been differences since and we were not involved in Billy’s recent win over Artur Akavov, but I hope the situation can be resolved.

LW: What is the fight you would like to see in 2017?

MT: Frank Buglioni defending his newly won British light-heavyweight title against Tom Baker. I formerly trained Buglioni but he decided to move on. He became champion after coming from behind to stop title-holder Hosea Burton in the 12th and last round in a thrilling clash in Manchester recently.

I look after Tom who is unbeaten in 14 contests and at the age of 25 is a mature fighter, winning the Southern Area super-middleweight title then stepping up a division to become English light-heavyweight champion.

He really wants to fight Buglioni and says he can beat his old sparring partner and take the British title.

LW: Who are the trainers I admire?

MT: Obviously I have learned mainly from my Dad. I have also studied leading coaches Emmanuel Steward and Freddie Roach. You can learn so much from the top men in the sport.

LW: What is your favourite activity away from boxing?

MT: Enjoying life with Melissa and our two-year-old son Mark Abraham. When I get the chance I like coast or country walks.

LW: What are your musical tastes?

MT: I have always enjoyed country singers like Kenny Rogers and Don Williams, also Van Morrison. But British heavyweight champion Dillian Whyte plays a lot of DMX, the American rapper, and he has got me listening and enjoying it!

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