Rather than trying to find the path of least resistance, Sam Noakes seems determined to take the most direct route possible to the top.

Just two months after winning the British lightweight title – and maintaining his 100 percent knockout ratio – by bludgeoning Lewis Sylvester to defeat, the exciting lightweight Noakes will look to add the European belt to his growing collection when he fights Yvan Mendy in London on Saturday night.

A whole host of quality opponents were unwilling or unable to provide Noakes with the chance to defend his newly won Lonsdale belt, so – in a meaningful display of confidence – his promoter, Queensberry, decided to pitch him into a shot at the vacant European title and approached the quality French veteran Mendy (48-6-1, 22 KOs).

True to form, Noakes (13-0, 13 KOs) jumped at the chance. He has adopted a risk-taking, aggressive attitude toward every aspect of his career, and it is an approach that is winning him plenty of fans. 

“That’s good to hear,” Noakes told BoxingScene. “I just try and be myself, to be honest. If you’d met me around my debut, you’d see I’ve not changed at all. I just try and be a real person. Listen, I’m confident. Just because I don’t sit there and call out every person doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in myself. I just think there’s a place for it. I’m very understanding in that there is so much politics to it all. It’s not just a case of ‘I’ll fight you.’ It’s just a business at the end of the day, and as long as I’m still winning, that’s the important thing at the end of the day.”

Top-class fighters prefer to concentrate on their own preparations rather than worrying about the opponent. Ordinarily, they wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about a relatively inexperienced puncher, but Noakes’ reputation is beginning to precede him.

The 26-year-old Noakes can punch, but he doesn’t carry that air of vulnerability that some big hitters have. And rather than relying on his power and allowing rounds to slip by while he loads up looking for the perfect shot, he sets a relentless pace and creates his own opportunities. There is also next to no chance of the sub-three-hour marathon runner running out of gas.

Things are undoubtedly about to get harder – starting with Mendy this weekend – and Noakes still has plenty to work on. But if he can do another impressive job, this time on the Frenchman, opponents are going to have no choice but to begin catering their plans to him.

“Maybe. It probably would get in your head wouldn’t it?” Noakes said. “Flip reverse it, and if I was getting in there with someone who was 22-0, with a load of knockouts, I’d be thinking, ‘Bloody hell, I’m in for a rough old night here.’ Obviously you’re still training and working hard, but any normal person would have that in their head.

“You could look at it this way, though: Mendy’s a seasoned, tested pro. He’s been in there with better fighters than me. I could be thinking, ‘Oh, I’m worried about doing the rounds here. I’m gonna slow it down a bit.’ Nah, I’m thinking, ‘F*** it. Even if he’s twice as hard as anyone I’ve ever fought, I’m bang-up for this one.’ I’m not worried.”

Back in 2018, Noakes attended his first-ever professional boxing show when he made the trip to Wembley Stadium to watch Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defense against Alexander Povetkin. Having beaten Luke Campbell three years earlier, Mendy lost a decision to the Olympic gold medalist in a lightweight rematch on the undercard.

It would be another 12 months before Noakes turned professional. but despite the vast gap in experience, he isn’t going to change a winning formula now. If he beats Mendy, he will be the reigning British, Commonwealth and European champion, and stand on the verge of some major nights.

“The closer you get, the more confidence you get,” Noakes said. “When you’re a few weeks out, you have plenty of time to think about all different scenarios. I’m well up for this, though.

“My whole career balances on winning this fight. That’s the seriousness of it for me, and that’s how I’m looking at it. Losing is not an option for me. Credit where credit’s due. The geezer’s very tough. If he goes 12, I’ll shake his hand at the end of it.”

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