Ten minutes with a legend: Jon Wilks discusses the recent Laureus Sports Awards with the current WBA world light welterweight champion
Are you feeling confident about your form at the moment? I’m very confident. I’ve just signed a deal with [leading boxing promoter] Golden Boy Promotions and I want to impress them, so I’m training twice as hard.
That’s the same promoter as Manny Pacquiao. Are you going to be sparring with him? I’ll be doing a few things with Manny, but in more of a current fighting style. I’ve sparred against him before. I did really well and my trainer was quite impressed. Manny came up and said I was the fastest guy he’d ever faced at the time.
Are you surprised he wasn’t a contender for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award? I’m very surprised. He’s had some big fights. I think with boxing, only very few people get enough publicity. Manny’s huge and he’s done so much for the game, but he’s not got that thing, that image that means he’s going to be massively famous.
Do you think you’ll fight him in future? I get that question a lot. Everyone wants to fight the best fighter in the world. And maybe it will happen in a few years’ time when I have that extra experience. Maybe I could have a shot. I don’t like fighting someone if I don’t know I can beat them – I’m a bad loser. If I go into a fight, I’m going to win the fight.
Will you ever fight in the UAE? I’m good friends with [UAE boxer] Eisa [Al Dah]. I’m going to meet him in a training camp in America and he’s been training in the UK with me. People in the UAE have been talking about having a fight here for a while, but when it comes to putting the money down or getting anything confirmed, I think a lot of people pull out. They lack that confidence that it can do well here, but I believe it: if you have the media and TV backing it, as well as people in Dubai, which is probably one of the richest countries in the world, it won’t only be a boxing show, it’ll be massive. If there is someone who wants us to fight in the UAE, they can approach us and invest the money and it will happen.
We have the UFC coming here soon; what’s your view on that sport? I became a fan when I spent a lot of time in America – it’s huge over there.
How many chances would you need in a UFC bout? In UFC they use gloves that are very thinly padded. If a fighter like me hit someone with thin padding like that, I’d knock them out in one punch. A good boxer will always beat a UFC fighter. In these big tournaments, a boxer always wins – they time it perfectly and catch their opponents right on the chin.