BIG INTERVIEW: Preston boxer Lisa Whiteside prepares for pro debut

Lisa Whiteside is put through her paces at an open training session earlier in the month
Lisa Whiteside is put through her paces at an open training session earlier in the month

Lisa Whiteside clearly isn’t doing things by halves as she prepares to make her professional boxing debut tonight.

Not for her is a bout at a small venue somewhere, instead the 33-year-old will start in the pro ranks at a football ground.

Lisa Whiteside (above) will take on Dani Hodges at Stevenage's Lamex Stadium

Lisa Whiteside (above) will take on Dani Hodges at Stevenage's Lamex Stadium

Whiteside, who was born in Chorley and trained in Preston as her boxing career gathered pace, steps into the ring at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium to fight Dani Hodges.

The Broadhall Way venue might not be a traditional boxing stage but an outdoor show on the bill of a world 
title fight is some going for the Lancastrian.

If all goes well down in deepest Hertfordshire, it will propel Whiteside closer to a fight with Nicola Adams who is boxing’s golden girl.

First things first though, the face-off with Hodges, a Staffordshire fighter who is nicknamed the ‘pocket rocket’.

Whiteside said: “I can’t wait for it. I’m really looking forward to the fight.

“I have been waiting for ages to make my pro debut and then it seems to have come around dead quick.

“The girl I am fighting is Dani Hodges – she’s won four out of five fights as a pro and is a year younger than me. To be honest, I don’t know her from the amateur game, I think she’s come from the kickboxing side of things.

“I can’t be complacent, no way can I afford to be.

“You get journeymen and journeywomen boxers in our sport but I don’t thinks that’s going to be the case with Dani.

“She will be coming to fight, coming to win and I will have to be right at it if I want to win.

“I can’t really predict how the fight will go.

“It’s professional boxing and this is my first pro fight.

“It’s four two-minute rounds, which means it’s going to be very quick.

“I will try to get the stoppage but it’s going to be difficult when you’ve only got two-minute rounds.

“The plan is to just go in there and box how I can box.

“I am not going to put pressure on myself to get the stoppage.

“You’ve just got to see what occurs. I am looking for a good performance and a good start to my professional career.”

Whiteside fights Hodges on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders’ clash with Shefat Isufi for the WBO world super middleweight title.

It should be some night and Whiteside got a taste of what it will be all about when she visited Stevenage recently to help promote the event.

With Frank Warren there, she did not let the occasion pass without pushing for a showdown with Adams.

“The bill is massive,” said Whiteside.

“ Billy Joe Saunders fighting Shefat Isufi for the world title, it’s going to be a really big night of boxing.

“We had an open training session the other week and it was a great experience.

“It’s pro boxing – a totally different world to that of the amateur game.

“Billy arrived at the open training session with Tyson Fury in a helicopter, which was an eye-opener.

“I met promoter Frank Warren for the first time, which was good.

“I just said to him let’s get this Nicola Adams fight on the go and he said it was something he would like to see happen in the near future.”

Whiteside was granted her professional status in January.

She had fought for some years – successfully – as an amateur. She trained at Larches and Savick ABC in the early days and is now in the MTK stable in Manchester.

The crowning moment of her amateur career came at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia when she won a gold medal.

Whiteside defeated Northern Ireland’s Carly McNaul in the flyweight final.

Before that, she had won a host of medals on the world and European stage.

She had joined the national programme in 2012 having previously competed for England at featherweight where she had won a silver medal at the 2011 European Championships in Holland and bronze at the 2012 world championships in China.

Whiteside went on to win flyweight silver at the 2014 world championships in South Korea, narrowly losing the final on a split decision.

As her amateur career saw her medal collection grow, Whiteside’s ambition was to get a chance to join the paid ranks, which gives her the type of opportunity she will get tonight.

What we have seen a lot more of in pro boxing of late has been the trash talk in the build-up to fights.

At times pre-fight chat can resemble something from WWE, with it all rather unnecessary.

Whiteside prefers to let her gloves do the talking.

“I am not going to change, I am not going to play up to the cameras,” she said.

“That’s not my style, I am not like that.

“ I’m a respectful person, although when I get in that ring I will mean business and will put everything into it.

“Trash talk is just not needed really. I suppose it depends on the situation.

“Don’t get me wrong if it came to that in a press conference, I would stand my ground and defend myself.

“But trash-talking is not really my thing. For me it is about getting into the ring and boxing.”