Make no mistake, whether the opponent is Lennox `Too Sharp’ Allen, Howard `Battersea Bomber’ Eastman or whoever else, Leon `The Lion’ Gilkes is ready to roar.
“I’m ready to step to the plate,” the 31-year-old Gilkes told Stabroek Sport yesterday ahead of his fight Saturday night against national middleweight champion Eastman.
Gilkes has fought 19 times losing on five occasions.
He declares that he was disappointed that he will not be fighting Allen but is eager for a chance to fight such an experienced boxer like Eastman. “Yes I was disappointed. Allen is a very good fighter but not like Eastman. It’s a privilege going into the ring with Eastman,” he said sounding like an overawed schoolboy.
He agreed that fighting the `Battersea Bomber’ would be a learning experience but bristled at the suggestion that he had already consigned himself to defeat and was expecting to be schooled in the ring.
“I have a lot to learn fighting a man like Eastman. Whatever mistake that I made, I can see later as I will have the fight taped. But I’m not saying that I’m going in there to lose. I’m a fighter. The way we plan things sometimes it just don’t happen that way,” he said philosophically.
“I know that he is a pressure fighter. When you standing against a man like Eastman you have to know yourself. You have to be prepared to take a shot and also to give a shot.”
Eastman is an experienced boxer who fought for most of his professional career out of London, England.
Fight fans will recall his battles with William Joppy and Bernard Hopkins, two of the biggest names in the middleweight division.
Comparing the careers of the two fighters is like making a comparison between chalk and cheese but Gilkes is not fazed by Eastman’s record.
He declared that he was ready and admitted that he had been preparing “for a little while now.”
Gilkes had been expected to face Allen with the winner facing Eastman but the organizers at a press conference on Wednesday announced that Allen had hurt his hand during a sparring session and was being replaced by Eastman.
Gilkes is being trained by veteran trainer Lennox Daniels at the Andrew `Sixhead’ Lewis Gym in La Penitence while Eastman as is customary is doing his training in Berbice.
Eastman will, however, start as an overwhelming favourite after his victories over `Deadly’ Denny Dalton and Lewis.