Christopher makes step up to pro ranks
Tyler Christopher says he has adopted a “tunnel vision” mindset after being persuaded to leave the amateur ranks and become a professional boxer.
Christopher admits he was hesitant about turning over until his coach, Anthony Hall, from the D&A Boxing School of Excellence Centre in Stirchley, Birmingham, convinced him he could more than hold his own as a professional.
The Bermudian, who won nine of his 12 amateur bouts, signed a professional contract with manager Jon Pegg last week and hopes to make his prizefighting debut in England in October or November.
“My coach was the reason I made this decision,” said Christopher, who returned to Birmingham last month after spending the Covid-19 lockdown in Bermuda.
“He was the one who said: ‘You know, I feel you're ready to turn pro'. He's the one who really gave me confidence and assured me I'm ready to step up.
“The amateur season ended in July and it doesn't start back up until January. I've been doing well in sparring against pros and my coach said it made sense for me to turn over now.”
Christopher has long maintained that boxing helped turn his life around after a short spell in prison about four years ago and said he needed a change of environment to fully focus on his craft.
He moved to Birmingham in November last year and believes stepping out of his “comfort zone” has helped him mature both inside and outside of the ring.
“I've learnt that being out of my comfort zone is how I grow,” added Christopher, who has not fought since his final amateur outing in Bermuda in February 2019.
“I felt my growth was being halted in Bermuda because of the different distractions and the amount of negativity I was experiencing on the island.
“Now I'm in Birmingham, I have tunnel vision; I don't have any distractions and I'm around a good team. I feel my whole style has changed and I'm getting different looks in sparring. I've really grown a lot since the last time Bermuda saw me [fight].”
Since settling in Smethwick, about 13 miles north of Birmingham city centre, Christopher has simplified his life to the point where he “eats, sleeps, and breathes” boxing. Quite literally.
“We've been going to different gyms and sparring some proper pro guys, some tough guys, and I'm holding my own,” he said.
“I wake up, go to the gym and do a session with my coach, whether that's pads, heavy bag or technical work. Then go home, take a nap, and in the evening I either do a class or have a session with my strength and conditioning coach. This is my life now: I wake up, go boxing and then go to sleep.”
The 24-year-old has joined island-based pugilists Nikki Bascome, Andre Lambe and Michael Parsons as the fourth active Bermudian professional boxer.
While he has his own reasons for swapping the subtropical climate of Bermuda for an urban metropolis, he hopes the switch may inspire the island's future boxers to test themselves overseas.
“You only had Nikki as a pro but now you have four guys and that can only be good for Bermuda boxing,” said Christopher, who will fight at welterweight or super welterweight.
“I have to thank Controversy Gym and Leo Richardson [the head coach], Mr ‘Forty' Rego [who died in 2018] and everyone at Rego's Gym. They have all played a part in my growth as a boxer.”
Although he has a long way to go before emulating all-action Brummie Sam Eggington, whose is also managed by matchmaker Pegg, Christopher is dreaming big in the form of a British title.
“My manager takes care of most of the top professionals in Birmingham,” Christopher said. “The most popular guy he manages is Sam Eggington [the former British, Commonwealth and European welterweight champion].
“He's one of the guys I really want to spar with; I'd love to get some rounds with him. My goal is to get a British title; that's my main focus right now.”