“It was like being told that Christmas had been cancelled” - that was the reaction of bantamweight boxer Sam Larkin after learning about the unexpected termination of his professional debut.
The 27-year-old had been scheduled to make his bow in his hometown tonight, sharing centre stage with teenage Yorkshireman Kieran Holman at Colne Municipal Hall.
But a clerical error, relating to the results of a routine eye test, a mandatory check required by the British Boxing Board of Control, prevented the former Sandygate ABC fighter from being sanctioned in time to compete.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” he said. “I’m lost for words. It’s a nightmare and I can’t get over it. I’ve not been sanctioned to fight in time because some paperwork has been overlooked. It’s just been a huge mistake.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment all year, ever since I started training with Karl Ince. I’ve been buzzing about it all week and now everything has just come crashing down. Shayne (Singleton) rang me the other night to see if I was okay.
“It was like being told that Christmas has been cancelled. I wanted to fight four times before Christmas so this is a major setback.”
The one saving grace is that promoter Frank Duffin will stage a second show at the same venue, Pendle’s Mecca for boxing, on October 26th, meaning all Larkin’s hard work won’t completely go to waste.
However, this setback, before Larkin has even thrown a jab since shedding his amateur tag, has hit the one-time Park High School pupil hard.
“There’s another show on October 26th and I’m just going to have to wait for that now,” he said. “Everyone has been on the phone to the board, my promoter, my manager, but there’s nothing they can do.
“I’ve been grafting and doing everything I can to make weight. I’ve been close to tears on occasions because of how hard I’ve had to work for this.
“I’ve been starving myself at work to make weight, I’ve been stressed. When the news came out that I couldn’t fight I just drove to Blackpool to try and clear my head.
“There’s not one good thing that has come out of this, even though people say that ‘everything happens for a reason’.”
Larkin added: “I guess the only positive is that I’ll be nine weeks fitter and nine weeks better when the fight does come around.
“Everything will be the same, I’m fighting the same opponent so my training camp and my sparring partners will be the same.
“I won’t be taking backwards steps now after everything that I’ve put in. I’ll be staying on top of everything. I’ve just got to wait another nine weeks now and it’s going to drag.
“A professional debut is a massive thing. I’m just glad that there’s another show being held at Colne Muni.
“I really wanted to make my debut in my home town, that was really important to me, so I’m thankful that I’ll still get the chance to do that.”
It was an occasion that Larkin had waited a lifetime for, a moment that could define his future, a dream that he’d carried since donning his first pair of gloves.
Alongside coach Alex Matvienko at Elite Boxing, he’d implemented a rigorous training regime, almost militant, in order to be in ship shape all while living a thoroughly disciplined lifestyle.
And he’ll go through it all again to impress when he finally gets his time to shine. “I was feeling good,” said Larkin. “I was bang on weight and everything else was perfect. I was fresh and ready to go.
“I’ve been training twice a day, running in the mornings and then going to the gym after work. It’s been tough but I love it. You’ve got to put the work in.
“I felt big, strong, I was hitting hard. I was determined to impress on my debut and put on a show for all my supporters.”
Sam would like to thank Unique Clean, JOG Building Services Ltd, Norpol Recycling, M. Hughes Sports Massage and Steptoe’s Yard for their ongoing sponsorship and support.