HE WAS SOMEONE I LIKED, THAT’S CHANGED: JOHN HARDING JR.
John Harding Jr. is rebuilding both literally and figuratively, he’s had an injury which has meant physical change and a new team has meant a new mentality. John has lost two of his last three fights, both for the English Middleweight Title; first to Jack Cullen in August 2019 and later to Linus Udofia in October 2020. Rebuilding does not matter to John Harding Jr., he has had to adapt and change and grow his whole life- he embraces it positively like nobody else I’ve ever met. He’s good at it.
As I was to find out, John’s even developed something completely new to him. A rivalry. Unsurprisingly, he’s even rather upbeat about that.
I spoke to the Team Southpaw Jab man, affectionately known as Pester/ Pest, in anticipation of his next fight (17th September, York Hall). I noted that he looked bigger given he said he was at weight, “Mmmm! I look bigger! So the ladies tell me! No but for real from the rehab training I’ve been strengthening new parts of the body.”
Harding describes himself as always “growing” and for someone who’s gone from a lengthy period behind bars to anti knife-crime charity spokesman who also raps (well- a necessary distinction), acts, models and boxes it’s hard to deny the man has the ability to excel at different things.
With the new team and new physique, John is looking forward to being back out with fans there. He promises, “entertainment. Sharp, precise hitting and movement. I need to get used to everything. Damn! I’m excited to be in York Hall and give the fans their money’s worth.” Despite admitting that eventually he might move up in weight, ideally to light heavy eventually but “definitely” super middleweight, and that he needs to learn to listen to his body more, the real juice of our chat is one thing.
The “Ninja Turtle” issue.
“I’ve learned so much, the L’s have been fabulous lessons. I gained a lot of experience from the Ninja Turtle fight, I don’t call him Udofia.”
This stunned me, I had no idea there was any relationship between them except for an entertaining bout which Linus won by TKO in round nine of ten. Pest had his chances in the fight, but was being made to chase and eventually worn down. I don’t think even John would take issue with the result but like a true fighter, he knows he can improve.
“I’ve got to focus on boxing. I’m a fighter, that’s my instinct… I learned something regarding life as well from that fight. People might be your friend, but put some money in their pocket and a camera in their face- they change.”
Linus has always come across well to me in person, and I do enjoy seeing him fight but the relationship between a writer and boxer and a boxer to boxer fraternity is far less fraught. Two nice guys who have to punch each other in the face for a prestigious title, I have no idea what could ruin that. While my eternal glass half-empty-affect mourns this, Harding’s is half full and far more happy.
“We were once friends, he was someone I liked. That’s changed. I’ve always wanted a rivalry, I didn’t think it’d be him, but I’m happy to have a dance partner. I’d fight him ten times.”
Ten fights would definitely be something! For now though John knows his main aim is shaking off the L and all that life has thrown at him since last October, starting on September 17th 2021. The rebuild starts there and his attitude doesn’t wane one bit,
“Hee! The game plan is to win titles, man. Get back to winning ways and put pressure on the division. Give the fans something. I don’t wanna name anyone but there’s one guy who I’ve been going back and forth with, but he’s been talking and I want his chin.”
Happily hunting chins, gleefully igniting rivalries, always growing, learning, adapting and never letting any hard knocks hurt, John Harding Jr. is on a mission again. Pestering.
Follow John on social media: TWITTER: @PesterSuperstar Instagram @PesterSuperstar
Contact Pest to purchase tickets through these accounts. See you at York Hall!