Telford's Kirk Stevens is keen to kick on after stunning title victory
KIRK Stevens, the fighter who seemed destined for a life of losses on the road, is an unlikely champion.
And the 33-year-old has done it through fitness, granite toughness and a refusal to backdown that would do any junkyard dog proud.
On Saturday, Kirk, from Donnington, Telford, again tore-up the script by outpointing fellow hardman Jamie Stewart for the vacant Midlands light-welterweight title.
He did it on the other man’s turf of Fenton Manor Sports Complex, Stoke. He did it in his first 10 rounder. He did it against a former champ. He did it after just seven fights, three of which were over only three rounds.
“I still can’t believe it,” Kirk told me. Neither can the majority of experts in the brutal business. Stevens is a man who steps up to the plate when needed.
In February, he entered the lucrative Top Boxer welterweight tournament, a one night, last man standing competition, at very short notice and with a mediocre record of one win in four – that included a knockout loss in his debut.
Kirk wasn’t given a prayer, but ended up winning the thing.
On Saturday, Stevens pulled off another miracle, referee Chris Dean awarding him a 96-94 decision over Stewart.
He can be forgiven for thinking the real life Rocky story is a dream.
Stevens said: “It’s hard to believe, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I entered the pro game to make a bit of money on the side. After winning Top Boxer, I thought, ‘I’m better than a journeyman’.
“As an amateur, I’d have a fight, take two months off, then have another fight. I didn’t take it that seriously.
“I turned pro overweight after just coming out of lockdown. I should’ve waited six months, really, but I went straight in and got stopped by a middleweight.”
The southpaw, lean and ambition, is a very different proposition at light-welter (10st). His simply outworked Stewart, sealing victory by stepping on the gas down the home stretch.
“I expected to win because I put the work in,” Kirk said, “but I was surprised how easy I did the 10 rounds. He’s a tough lad and he’s beaten some tough people. I didn’t feel troubled at any stage, I felt comfortable with his pace.
“I think he found me being a southpaw a bit awkward. He probably expected me to be a front-foot fighter, but this time I was able to think and box.”
Stevens, by day a welder and fabricator, can now afford to think big.
“I’m not scared to fight anyone,” he said. “English or British title fights or whatever comes my way, I’ll grab it with both hands and put my life on the line.
“The Midlands was my world title fight, now I want to ‘up’ the titles. If I can get an English title, I’ll look to move up a level again. People haven’t seen the best of me, I’ve boxed for nine or 10 years max and had three years out. I’m improving all the time.”
Manager Jon Pegg said simply: “It’s amazing what self-belief can do. Kirk entered the game to earn a bit of money and now he’s a champion.”