By: Oliver McManus
Looking across the array of fighters promoted by Frank Warren there are certain guys that catch the eye and Harvey Horn is certainly one of them – European Under 22 Champion, a British World Series of Boxing representative, in the amateur game now making strides at 2 and 0 as a professional boxer.
Fighting again on June 23rd, Horn looks to continue the momentum he’s built in his first year as a pro and has set his eyes firmly on the coveted British belt before pushing on for even greater honours.
With the odd peculiarity of being the only fighter to defeat both Patrik and Denis Bartos, a pair of brothers, Horn has intrigue across the board and outside of the ring he’s involved with a campaign called Isla’s Fight, supporting a young West Ham fan with a rare medical condition.
Last week I caught up with Chigwell’s finest to discuss everything from missing out on the Rio Olympics, going under the radar, titles, ambitions, regrets and, somehow, Anthony Yarde and Eddie Hearn;
We’re not far away from your fight on June 23rd, how’s training going?
Yeah it’s going well apart from at the weekend, I start sparring on Monday next week, and got some good sparring coming in. It’s just starting up really but I’m feeling good. I’ve put on a bit of weight since my last one so normally I walk around at flyweight but now I’ve put on a bit extra so when I do come down to the weight I’m coming down to it instead of walking around to it, so I’m a bit stronger.
Do you reckon we could see you at Super flyweight then, at some point?
Possibly, possibly, I’ll be honest, I could make light flyweight if I wanted to. Unless I had a drastic change, which I can’t see happening, I’m 22 now, I can’t see anything too drastically changing over the next couple of years but I’m aiming to go and get what I can at flyweight and if anything was there at light-fly, obviously you’ve got the world titles with a load of Thai’s, Filipino’s that have got those belts at light-fly, it would be nice to see if I can go and take one of them as well.
Like you said, you were ill over the weekend, was there ever a doubt in your mind as to fighting on June 23rd or was it just literally a couple days cold?
No, no, definitely not, it was just a little 24 hour bug. At the time of it going on, I knew I had five weeks, I’m only doing a four rounder for this one so it was never in my mind that I was going to call of the fight, no way.
Going back to when you did sign pro, at 22, was it always the aim to turn pro so early on or was it missing out on Rio (Olympics) that really pushed you to go for it?
I always said I was never going to turn pro without an Olympic medal but as I got on, on GB, I realised that just going to the Olympics itself is a massive bargaining chip when turning pro and to be an Olympian stands you out from the others.
But when that disappointment with Rio happened (Galal Yafai was selected ahead of Harvey), I couldn’t really stay up there anymore. It had done a bit of a number on me and I couldn’t stay, especially with Galal staying on, as well.
Especially because he’d been to the Olympics it would have been very, very hard to push him off that top-spot, no matter what I did.
When you’ve been to the Olympics there’s a bit of a buzz around you, do you think it’s kind of a bit unfair how you’ve gone relatively under the radar in comparison to your Buatsi’s, your Okolie’s?
It is a gutter because obviously I’ve been fighting with these boys, I’ve been to tournaments where, obviously Buatsi’s doing brilliant now but, at the European’s where he got a Bronze and I got a silver I’ve been tournaments where I’ve done better than him, where he’s done better than me, and obviously it doesn’t mean much now but I’ve learnt my trade with these boys and, don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy for them and they deserve it but I feel like my break should have been there as well and if I’d have been at the Olympics, it would have been.
It is a gutter but I don’t think it’s unfair because it’s how it is, I can’t point fingers and make excuses, it happened. But my time will come and if it’s not now, it just means it’s not the right time. And it wasn’t the right time.
You had loads of amateur pedigree anyway, you were a WSB competitor, does that make it easier to transition into the pro ranks?
Definitely, definitely, I mean them five rounder’s aren’t five rounder’s with journeyman, they’re five rounder’s with the world’s best. I mean I boxed some incredible countries, Mexico, I boxed the Olympic bronze medallist from America, Ukraine. I’ve had some really good fights with top class people.
And it stands you in good stead because if I can do the five rounds there then I know I can do the longer rounds. The longer the rounds, the better I’ll get, especially with my style as well. So that WSB it really gives us a big advantage going amateur to pro.
And are you one of the fighter’s then that the better opponent you get in the ring, the better you’ll look.
100%, when I’ve had people in front of me, I don’t know if it’s a concentration thing or if I dcrop down to their level but I’ve always boxed better when I’ve get better people in front of me. There’s not really been a time where I’ve had someone of quality in front of me and been beat but I’ve been plenty of times, well a handful of times, to people that were not on the same level as me and I just haven’t performed.
I don’t tend to get beat by people who are on the same level as me and have done what I’ve done but I won’t box brilliant or it’ll be a scrappy fight against those that haven’t but after this year’s done, I’ll jump in with the big names and start showing how good I really am.
Because you’re a European flyweight, there’s not many around, are you finding it hard to get opponents who will really bring the best out of you at this early stage?
At this stage probably , yeah , because with the flyweights the jump between domestic, well average, fighters and world class…
It’s a lot bigger.
Yeah there’s a big jump because there’s not really anything in the middle, you have domestic, European and World but there’s not much around. Straight to world at fly and light-fly you have all the Japanese, Thai’s and Filipino’s who are the world level fighters but you don’t really have anyone just under that level so it will be hard to match me when I get to there but hopefully it’ll mean the bigger fights come sooner.
If you did get a shot next year, year after, would you be willing to take it in their back garden or would you want in the UK?
Obviously I’d want in the UK, it would be nice, I have a good fan base following me and it’s only going to get bigger as I go on but don’t get me wrong, if the opportunity comes to Japan and Thailand I would do it straightaway.
Obviously if the money was alright as long as I’m not getting completely turned over with the money I would 100% go and do it because that zero to me it’s a massive thing, my 0, but I’m resigned to the fact that to be a bit of a great you can’t guard that 0 to cautiously and I see a lot of fighters doing that…
And if you looked back at your career and there were 3 losses but they were three really good opportunities, three really good fights, would you feel better than if you protected your 0 for your whole career?
Of course, I would definitely feel better because if I protected it and didn’t take those chances then I’d feel like I cheated myself and I cheated my talent, I wouldn’t feel like I’d explored everything I can do in the boxing game and I think if it took them losses to experience it all then so be it but obviously I’d love to keep my 0 but I’ll take those chances.
On that then your opinion on Anthony Yarde, he turned down the fight for the IBF World title because he felt he wasn’t ready…
I didn’t know that, I didn’t know that, who was it with?
Artur Beterbiev, I believe, Callum Johnson is now the mandatory because the top 10 have refused the fight…
Callum Johnson is the mandatory for the IBF? I don’t blame them (the top 10).
But do you think that’s wise from Yarde, obviously he didn’t have as much amateur experience as someone like yourself?
I think with Yarde, what’s he had 14 fights? The quality of opponent in front of him hasn’t been brilliant, not been brilliant at all and he has had no amateur career but what he’s doing to these opponents, even though they’re not great, he’s like a novice compared to some of these other fighters who have had 300, 400 amateur fights.
To do what he’s doing he has got talent and he is a talented fighter. I believe he will, when he gets tested, I feel like he will surprise a lot of people but turning that down was probably a smart move because that geezer’s a bit of an animal and 14 fights in, no amateur experience, not really been tested, doesn’t seem wise. I’d rather tick on for another year or so, start getting some real tests in and then go for it.
Talking of fighters is there a particular route you want to go down? British then European?
I’m getting the British, I’m 100% getting the British. I promised my Dad if ever I turned pro I’d get the British, I’d win it outright and I’d let him keep it. He’s always wanted it, it’s a nice belt in my opinion and it’s still very hard to win but I will win it outright. Even if I won the British and they turned around and said you’ve got a world title fight after this, I would probably turn it down and win the British outright.
Do you care who the opponent is or do you just want the belt?
I wouldn’t really care, I wouldn’t really care because at the minute, don’t get me wrong I’m not one of those fighters that says I’ll fight anybody, anytime, anyplace but I think, British level, the only person that really is a worry and he won’t be around domestic level for much longer is Andrew Selby and he’s not even domestic level. He’s the only one that I’d think “woah, I’ve got to be a bit careful here”.
Your first two opponents, going back, it’s a very random question but they both had the same surname (Bartos) and I’ve done some research and they’re the only two boxers with that surname, do you know if they’re related at all?
Yeah they’re brothers, they are brothers. The second one, the one who went four rounds, was the older one and they were doing each other’s corners as well.
You’re the only person to have beaten both of them!
Yeah, the second one funnily enough I think he was annoyed because of the first one so he had more motivation to try and restore some family honour or whatever… I’ve probably got the step dad on the 23rd!
You are part of Isla’s Fight, the young girl?
I’m a West Ham fan myself and I’ve seen it on social media, a couple of fighters – Mark Little – was doing a bit for her and I thought as a pro now I’m earning some money myself so I feel like everyone should do their bit.
I thought I’d start off just by trying to raise a bit of awareness and hopefully raise some money as well in the process.
Have you met her or is it just a case or raising awareness?
No, no, I haven’t. You see this is the thing, I was supposed to go to a charity football match the other day that they just had…
With Marlon Harewood and that…
Yeah that’s it but I was supposed to down that, something happened and I couldn’t end up going but I was going to meet her then. I’ve been in contact with her parents to ask if it was alright to post about and if they’d accept it if I gave them my ticket money because I wouldn’t want to do it without any permission but I haven’t met them but I’ve read up a lot about it and it’s just doing my bit for someone in need.
On June 23rd are you looking to make a certain statement, are you looking for rounds or a knockout?
Obviously I’d like the knockout, I don’t care how it comes as long as it comes but my last fight, I got a little bit complacent after the first one if I’m honest, I thought that everyone was going to go down as soon as I hit them and I got a bit sloppy, I didn’t really have that fear factor when I was training. For the first one I was going into the unknown, I was training like a monster and the second one I began to think ‘everyone’s going down’ but now the fears back and I’m looking to make a statement.
The flyweights don’t really get much recognition anyway because that don’t knock many people out or they’re not exciting but I want to be an exciting fighter, like Magri. I don’t want to be involved in tear-ups but I want to be in exciting fights. I want to be able to talk properly by the time I’m 35.
Do you reckon you’ll be out of the ring at 35 or are you going to be another Roy Jones Jr?
Nah I definitely won’t be boxing by then but I want to stay in the sport, I want to go into the commentary or the pundit side, I’ve always liked being in front of the camera but I wouldn’t want to leave the sport. I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong and then they want to jump back in too old, too slow because they’ve taken themselves away from it.
I may even train a couple of fighters, I’m not too sure yet.
Obviously you are a Frank Warren fighter, I’m not going to ask you if you want to move but Eddie Hearn’s got his $1billion deal, is that good for boxing or does it risk making it too one-sided?
Brilliant for the sport of boxing. Hearn has certainly made a statement but it is good for boxing. With the two promoters I feel like Warren has the diehard boxing fans, the proper boxing fans but Hearn has the public he has that support – people that aren’t necessarily interested in boxing, just want to be part of something, a crowd.
It would be nice to get a mix but I don’t know, it is a good deal, but as for moving, you know, Frank’s took me since the start. I’ve got a long time left with Frank and he’s doing great with me so far. Bit gutted I didn’t carry on my momentum, I was meant to be fighting in April (the original Saunders-Murray card), I was fighting once every six weeks so it’s put the brakes on a little bit.
I reckon I’ll be out soon after, August/September.
Do you reckon you’ll get another 2/3 fights this year, then?
I’m hoping to have another four, including this one, 6 and 0 by the end of the year.
Any title or will that come next year?
No, no, my first year will finish in December and it’s just about getting a feel for the pro game, getting experience, hopefully getting some stoppages that get my record up then start looking at people, then start calling people out.
I’ve run out of questions now Harvey, it’s been 20 minutes, thanks a lot for speaking to me!
No worries mate, appreciate your time.