By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 17/06/19 2:35pm
Craig Richards says Andre Sterling will receive a humbling lesson as their local rivalry boiled over ahead of a British title eliminator.
The 29-year-old light-heavyweight faces the unbeaten Sterling in Friday’s JD NXTGEN bill at York Hall, live on Sky Sports, with the winner receiving a shot at the Lonsdale belt currently held by Joshua Buatsi.
Live JD Nxtgen Boxing
June 21, 2019, 7:00pm
Both south Londoners crossed paths last week, sparking a heated confrontation that was shared on social media, and Richards revealed how Sterling had irritated him with recent comments.
“Before he used to pretend to be my friend,” Richards told Sky Sports. “We’ve known each other for years, but through the grapevine I was always hearing he was saying negative things about me behind my back.
“But when I would see him, he would be alright. He’s tried to prod me a few times on social media, but I don’t really get involved with the whole social media stuff, back and forth.
“Where I’ve been ignoring him on social media, I think he thought he could say the same stuff in real life and I would ignore it, but it was different when I saw him.
“I don’t know what goes on in his head, I don’t know what people tell him. I think he’ll definitely regret what he’s said.”
Richards has already fought at British title level, suffering the solitary loss of his career on points to Frank Buglioni after stepping in as a late replacement.
But ‘Spider’ believes Sterling has already struggled against lesser opponents and will fall short when they share the ring at the historic venue in Bethnal Green.
Richards said: “He was saying ‘don’t let the occasion get to me,’ but I’ve been in these occasions multiple times. I’ve been in these big fights, I’ve been in these grudge matches. I’m used to these occasions now.
Just because he’s scraped a couple of victories, he thinks he’s ready, he’s not. One hundred per cent, I’ve got to teach him a lesson.
Craig ‘Spider’ Richards
“He’ll be under a lot of pressure now. There are a lot of people from around the area coming, so he really needs to perform. He’ll try to fight his heart out and try to come forward, but it’s just not going to be enough. He knows it’s sink or swim.
“In the professional game, the experience is key. When I tried to step-up too early on short notice, I learned a lot and there was a lot I needed to cover before stepping up again.
“I went away, I covered all of that, built my experience, and I’m ready to go. He hasn’t been through that. He’s come up against Ricky Summers, which is his toughest fight, he got dropped, came back to scrape a victory.
“He had a close decision against Kirk Garvey, he hasn’t been through the fights I’ve been through. Just because he’s scraped a couple of victories, he thinks he’s ready, he’s not. One hundred per cent, I’ve got to teach him a lesson.”
After permanently switching to 175lbs, Richards has been punching with more spite, and intends to produce another ruthless win after his third round stoppage of Jake Ball in February.
“We’re looking for a knockout hopefully,” he said. “I’m punching harder every fight. I’ve moved up properly to light-heavyweight, I’ve got everyone out within three rounds and I just hope to continue a good winning streak.
“I think sometimes I don’t get enough respect. I’m performing well, I’m knocking everyone out, but I still don’t get the credit I feel I could get. After Friday night, it could be another stepping stone to get the credit I deserve.”
Watch Craig Richards against Andre Sterling, Conor Benn versus Jussi Koivula and Ted Cheeseman’s British title fight with Kieron Conway at York Hall on Friday from 7pm on Sky Sports Action.