BIG INTERVIEW: Johnney Roye talks MTK and big-time boxing returning to Preston

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This is just the start.

That’s the message from respected fight figure Johnney Roye as big-time boxing returns to Preston.

Thanks to his link-up with an increasingly major player in world boxing, he is at the helm of a bumper televised card at the Guild Hall next Saturday night.

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Since JR Gym became MTK Manchester, things have been going from strength-to-strength for the former world kickboxing champion at his Oyston Mill base on Strand Road.

Now he believes the time is right to put on a big bill.

March 31 will see two major titles contested on a 15-fight card which will be broadcast live on BoxNation and include local favourites Jack Catterall and Matty Clarkson amongst others.

“We’ve put a lot of work in, me and the whole team and we really can’t wait for this,” Roye said.

“It’s great to be in the public eye like this and we’re all really looking forward to it.

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Johnney Roye at MTK Manchester in Preston.Johnney Roye at MTK Manchester in Preston.
Johnney Roye at MTK Manchester in Preston.

“We’ve got 15 fights and two titles, one national and one international.

“We’ve come some new lads coming through and making their debuts and some older ones coming back into the sport after a bit of time out.

“I’m really looking forward to this one. I’ve been like a child waiting for Christmas.

“This is going to be something special.”

Roye's gym at Oyston Mill is part of the MTK group.Roye's gym at Oyston Mill is part of the MTK group.
Roye's gym at Oyston Mill is part of the MTK group.

The night has come to pass thanks in a large part to being one of the franchises of management and promotional giant MTK Global.

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They look after some 130 boxers, heavyweight star Tyson Fury and Northern Ireland’s two-weight world champion Carl Frampton amongst them and have nine official gyms across the globe including in New York, Perth, Australia and Johannesburg, South Africa.

“I was doing pro shows with three to four fights in the nightclubs in Preston prior to me joining MTK,” Roye admitted.

“I was spread so thin. I was doing the ticket sales, the posters, the promotional stuff, the training of the fighters, the match-making, it was just too much.

Jack Catterall will be one of the star attractions at a big night at the Preston Guild Hall.Jack Catterall will be one of the star attractions at a big night at the Preston Guild Hall.
Jack Catterall will be one of the star attractions at a big night at the Preston Guild Hall.

“In fairness, none of them were done at a very high level because there was just so much.

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“Now I can concentrate on the boxing and giving my input and then the whole team get together to make sure things are done. I feel a lot more relaxed.

“We’re now on the cusp of staging a show on live television with major titles and a great card.

“All these things could not have been done without them.

“How long it would have taken to get in the position I am without them god only knows.

“Financially it wouldn’t have been feasible, we didn’t have the boxers and we didn’t have the infrastructure.

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Matty Clarkson will be making his return on March 31.Matty Clarkson will be making his return on March 31.
Matty Clarkson will be making his return on March 31.

“It’s not just a brand. There’s a whole backroom staff that comes with it and they are elite at what they do whether it be marketing, media, sponsors or events.”

The deal initially came about through Roye’s work with Liverpool fighter Derry Mathews, the now retired former British and Commonwealth lightweight champion who won plenty of fans in an eventful 52-fight career.

“When MTK first started I used to be his cutsman, wrapping his hands as well,” Roye said.

“That’s how we made the initial introduction. At that point Derry was their best boxer, they only had 10 at that point.

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“It was in its infancy but as its grown, we’ve all grown together and that’s the beauty of it.

“New people have been brought in but the originals are still there now with the same ideology.

“We’re doing it for the boxers. We’re not interested in making money ourselves. We have all kinds of means of helping these fighters.

“There’s franchises all over and we’ve just had MTK Newcastle join the family.

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“Our intention is even though we’re in a better position than we were in last month, we’re nowhere near where we want to be next month.”

As he prepares to take the next step with MTK, Roye is delighted it will be in his home city with his charge Liam Conroy headlining when he defends his English light-heavyweight title against Miles Shinkwin.

“Preston is not only my home but I just love the area,” he said.

People from Preston have supported us from day one.

“We started off with Thai boxing then moved onto amateur and pro boxing and they’ve always been there.

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“I would not start a bigger part of our operation anywhere other than what is the home for us.”

Despite Saturday night being an important breakthrough, Roye is readying himself for even bigger things to come down the line with both his gym and MTK on the rise at a boom time for British boxing.

“It’s a transition for us,” Roye said.

“But with the organisation we’ve got we are looking to outdo what we’ve done previously.

“I’m not resting on my laurels, I’m already planning the show after this with the rest of the team.

“There’s no time for us to absorb everything that’s happening.

“The fans will have more of an appreciation of it than I will.

“We’re just working to take this in the direction we’re trying to.”