Tom Aspinall has reset his focus to mixed martial arts after dipping his toe in the waters of professional boxing, but there will be no easing him back into the sport as the Team Kaobon fighter takes pride of place at the top of the Cage Warriors 101 card this Saturday night in Liverpool, England.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Aspinall insisted that he was always going to return to his first love, MMA. However, the towering Englishman had the perfect preparation for his soiree into the sweet science by preparing for the contest alongside former unified heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury.
“I got to work with Tyson and Hughie quite a bit. I literally sparred hundreds of rounds with both of them, so that was good,” Aspinall explained on the latest episode of Eurobash.
Fury’s reputation has improved greatly on the back of the epic Deontay Wilder fight, but when Aspinall first joined his ranks, “Gypsy King” was far from the relative media darling he appears to be today. That being said, Aspinall was made feel very welcome by the pugilism ace.
“When I first met him he was leading up to his Klitschko fight. As we know, he’s done a 180 in terms of media now, but at the time everyone hated him. I’ve always seen him as the guy that the people see him as now. He’s always been really nice to me, not only me, but everyone I’ve ever seen him with. He’s just an amazing guy and sparring with him is very tricky to say the least,” he explained.
Aspinall recalled the first time he sparred Fury. After fancying his chances initially when watching form outside the ring, the reality of being in there with Fury was completely different than he initially anticipated.
“The first time I ever sparred with him, I walked in the gym and he was already sparring…I can’t remember exactly but I think he had three sparring partners. He was doing a round with someone when I walked in and I just thought, ‘He doesn’t look that good’. I just thought that I could do really well against him and then I got in [to the ring] and I couldn’t hit him; I was basically shadowboxing for three minutes!
“His judging of distance is just unbelievable, basically. You can watch him and think, ‘Oh, he looks slow, he looks like he doesn’t hit very hard,’ or whatever other negative sh*t you can…but basically he’s just a master of judging distance.”
“If you’re sparring people like that it definitely brings your game on, but nut just technically,” he added. “If you’re around people with that champion’s mindset, it brings you on mentally as well.”
After dispatching his opponent in the first round of his boxing debut, Aspinall seems to be happy to be back on familiar terrain with Team Kaobon.
While it may be an advantage to have teammates preparing for fights in other gyms—Kaobon frontrunners Darren Till and Mike Grundy are currently getting ready for UFC London—Aspinall explained that head coach Colin Heron always makes sure the whole team is involved with each team members’ fight preparation, regardless of whether they have dates lined up or not.
“My coach does it really well…if only one of us are in to fight we all go to the gym to help them prepare anyway. For example, even if I was just fighting and nobody else had a fight booked, the lads would all be there to help me and we’d all be doing the same sessions anyway. That’s just the way it’s always been…my coach is always getting us all ready.”
Aspinall heaped praise on Heron:
“He’s not just had an impact on my career, but on my whole life. Colin’s basically like another family member to me. I started training at Kaobon because my Dad is friends with Colin, that’s how it all started. I know Colin personally, it’s not just on a coaching level. I couldn’t ask for better. In my opinion he is the best coach in the world so that’s why I don’t mind travelling to train there everyday.”
Till has been readily endorsing Aspinall ahead of his Cage Warriors debut and the heavyweight believes that “The Gorilla” has been in a key component in his booking a main event slot in his Cage Warriors debut.
“It’s really good, but if you asked any of my teammates they’d tell you the same…I know I’m the main event because of Till,” he said, “I’m fully aware of that and it’s been very nice of him [to endorse me ahead of the fight]. It’s good stuff.”
With an impressive showing in his debut against surging in his debut against surging Frenchman will allow him to scale the Cage Warriors in quick fashion.
“This guy is not a pushover by any means. He’s on a five-fight win streak, someone told me the other day that he’s never been stopped in his losses, so I think I will make a statement when I beat him.
He added: “I just want to outclass him, to be honest. I just want to show that I’m better than him. Not even just him, I want to show everyone that I’m levels above everyone else. Stopping him or not stopping him, I’m not bothered.”
Check out the latest of Eurobash. The Tom Aspinall interview begins at 1:12:00.