AS a 13-year-old boy growing up in the central western New South Wales town of Cowra, Steve “Tough Love” Lovett never envisaged what lay ahead for him in his career as a boxer.
The US trailblazer who is now 13-0 (11 KOs) is building not only an imposing professional record, but a career which is being handled by two very big names in the sport.
Steve Lovett is a disciplined and relentless worker, values passed down to him at a very young age. Through his grandfather’s love of the sport and his many tales of the greats of the past, Lovett picked up the gloves.
Lovett was a talented amateur. Although just missing out on the 2008 Olympic team, he did enough to secure a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
He was then selected to represent Australia the following year for the World Amateur Championships. Due to circumstances out of his control, Lovett had to withdraw due to injury.
On his move to the US, it was the lure of getting regular fights and the chance to give himself the best opportunity to become a world champion.
As Lovett explains, a lot of his hard work when he was in Australia went unrewarded.
“It was really hard when I was in Canberra. I was up at 5am training then to work at 7am, when I was working as a stonemason,” said Lovett in an interview with Aus-Boxing.
“I was doing that for ten hours a day, then travelling to Sydney three times a week to train with the boys at the Grange with Graham Shaw,”
“I just got tired of putting all this hard work and the hours in to try and make it and I just wasn’t getting much reward for effort. I had opponents that withdrawing – a lack of people to fight – it was going nowhere quickly,”
“I then took matters into my own hands – and thought I am 28 years of age – now is the time,”
In January of 2014, Lovett bit the bullet and moved to the US.
His dream of becoming a world champion was a step closer. Three meetings were lined up with three of the best trainers in the game, Buddy McGirt, Freddie Roach and Ronnie Shields.
It was after his meeting with Shields, that Lovett knew they were going to be a good fit.
— Plex (@PlexAthlete) September 2, 2015
“I met with Freddie and did some sparring with a few of his guys at Wildcard, that went okay,” explained Lovett. “Then I met with Buddy in New York,”
“Obviously they are world class trainers, but I knew after speaking with Ronnie, that he was the man to take me to the next level. His knowledge and passion for boxing really stood out to me and that drew me in,”
With his trainer locked in, a promoter had to be finalised. Enter advisor Al Haymon, the most powerful man in the sport. Lovett signed on with Haymon not long after setting foot on US soil.
It didn’t take him long to land Lovett a fight on a big card, a spot on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo in March of last year at the mecca of boxing, the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Lovett debuted in spectacular fashion, stopping Mexican Francisco Molina of the second round. Now that Lovett has everything in place and is thankful for it.
“Yeah everything has just worked out so well, I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” he continued. “I have a world class trainer in a world class facility here in Houston and Al Haymon has me fighting regularly,”
“The coaching, the strength and conditioning programs, the quality of sparring (Lovett is currently sparring Edwin Rodriguez) everything is just on a whole different level here,”
“I have put myself in the position to make it happen and I am so thankful I took the gamble to be here.”
Other notable Australians in Lenny Zappavigna, Jake Carr, Wes Capper and now Zac Dunn have now made moves to establish bases in the United States.
When asked if this was going to be the trend in Australian boxing moving forward, Lovett had this to say.
“Well I really don’t want to speak for other fighters but it has definitely helped my career,” he concluded.
“Everyone has their own circumstances but if you want the best training facilities, the best fitness guys and coaches, then here is the place for you,”
“I do my strength and conditioning at Danny Arnold’s Plex facility in Stafford, Texas, which is used by a lot of NBA and NFL athletes. From my point of view moving to the US was the best thing I have done for my career,”
Lovett’s next challenge is on October 5th which will be aired on Fox Sports in America. It gives him another chance at exposure in the biggest market in the world.
Lovett is on his way to becoming something special.
Words: Dan Smart/Follow Dan on Twitter