By Marco Bratusch
Last May, after twelve rounds of two-way action at the Gatorade Center in Turku, Finland, a surprising outcome moved the European lightweight belt into the hands of little-known challenger Francesco Patera who was facing decorated titlist and local favorite Edis Tatli.
The facility is normally used to host ice hockey, but in the end the boxing ring too appeared to be ‘slippery’ for the defending champion that night.
The bout was a fairly even affair, with the taller and busier Patera bringing the fight to the more orthodox, polished and arguably accurate Tatli, who was making his third defense of the belt. However, a split decision verdict was granted to the Belgian boxer, who became the new European lightweight king despite the resolute protests of Finnish promoter Pekka Maeki in the international press.
Next Tuesday, December 12th, again in Helsinki, Finland, the awaited rematch is going to take place. To better introduce that bout, we shared some words with the current champion Patera, one of the ‘new faces’ of the European boxing landscape.
How did you get involved with boxing? Was it part of your family?
Well, my older brother Biagio used to be a professional boxer, and my father liked to work out as well to keep himself in good shape. So I just started to work out with them and I really enjoyed it. I was born in Belgium but my parents emigrated here from south Italy, that’s why I got an Italian surname.
How would you describe yourself as a boxer? What’s the thing you like most during the fight?
I consider myself as a good technician, a fast-handed and basically smart boxer. Sometimes I like to mix it up and put more pressure on my opponent, but I can switch to different styles if I have to. Maybe the thing I like most of fighting is to assess and try to understand what’s the best fight I can do depending on the skills and attitudes of my foe.
Where are you training? Do you have good sparring partners?
I have been training at GMG club in Liegi, Belgium, for ten years now. I regularly spar with the Jamoye brothers, especially with Stephane who is a two-time world title challenger and he’s about my same size, or with Andrea Carbonello and other boxers of the gym.
You are only 24-years-old now and you have been improving considerably during the last two years, as you stepped up the opposition fighting the likes of Yvan Mendy, Sean Dodd and Pasquale Di Silvio. What can you tell us about those fights?
Yes, the last two years have been very important for my development. Mendy was the toughest fight of them all, and it was also the first time I went the full twelve rounds. He was very clever and experienced, and I learned so much from that bout. The Dodd fight was a double-face one. I started strong and he had some troubles with my size and workrate then he took adjustments and did pretty well, but in my opinion I would have deserved the scrap. The ten rounds with Di Silvio was an entertaining action fight, and the crowd was very pleased with it.
What is your take over the first bout with Tatli, when you won the European belt? Did you think the judges would have given it to you after such a close contest in your opponent’s backyard?
That night I was feeling so well and my hands were hitting very naturally and continuously. He worked basically in spurts, and 70% of his punches were jabs, so nothing really consistent. All in all, I think deserved that decision, maybe he counted a bit on the fact that he was fighting at home or maybe he underestimated me. But I was clearly the man who really wanted to win that decision and I proved it in the ring.
What can we expect from you in the rematch? Will you stick to your previous tactics or you are going to show us something else? Are you expecting a different version of Tatli this time?
I’m pretty confident that this time I’m going to win it even more convincingly. I know exactly what to do and I have been working on different aspects but, of course, I don’t intend to disclose them now as you may watch them in the ring soon. I don’t know what else Tatli can do in this rematch, but I will be ready for whatever he wants to do and for whatever kind of fight he intends to put on. I can’t wait for December 12 to arrive.