Rocky Fielding's journey to Canelo Alvarez fight began three years ago with a hashtag and a dream
Fielding's journey to a main event at Madison Square Garden is unique to say the least
NEW YORK -- If the life and career of super middleweight titleholder Rocky Fielding were a fictional movie about a boxer, the turning point of film would be a scene outside of Madison Square Garden three years ago.
The unassuming Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs), who enters the biggest fight of his career on Saturday when he defends his secondary WBA title against reigning middleweight king Canelo Alvarez (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET), was just six days removed from his lone pro loss when he was stopped in the first round by current unbeaten WBA champion Callum Smith.
On a much-needed vacation to Manhattan with his girlfriend, a heartbroken Fielding took an afternoon tour of "The World's Most Famous Arena" hours before he took in a Knicks game. From his $30 seats in the upper right tier of the arena where he watched LeBron James and the Cavaliers roll to a six-point win, Fielding turned a fleeting thought into a question.
"I had just come off me first defeat and was devastated about the fight," Fielding told CBS Sports. "I just got caught up in the history of MSG and was thinking, 'One day.' I turned and said to me girl, 'Imagine me fighting here at the mecca of boxing?'"
With a dream in his heart, Fielding had his girlfriend take a picture of him outside the arena, which he added the hashtag of #OneDay. Three years later, he will be fighting quite possibly the biggest name in the sport in the very same building.
If it's starting to sound like another great underdog boxing story with a fighter named Rocky, you'd be correct. Only Fielding wasn't named after the fictional Balboa -- as a 10.5-pound baby, a family friend picked him up and thought he felt like a rock -- and his story, despite its consistent theme of rising from obscurity, is anything but fictional.
Fielding turned pro as an unknown at 23 without a promoter courting his services. Ten months later, he received a call (on five days' notice, no less) to compete in a one-night tournament called "The Prizefighter." Three knockouts later, he was the winner as the trend of right place, right time (almost always at the last minute) seemed to continue.
Even Fielding's world title opportunity in July, when he traveled to unbeaten Tyron Zeuge's backyard of Germany to win via fifth-round TKO, came on just five weeks' notice. Three months after his breakthrough win, his phone rang.
"It was my trainer Jamie Moore. I was in bed and he called me and said, 'Look, I've got some news, just keep it to yourself for now. Canelo wants to fight you,'" Fielding said. "It was a split second and I said, 'Let's do it.' It wasn't where it was or what date, it was, 'Yes, I'll fight Canelo.'
"I got five weeks' notice for a big opportunity and a world title [in July] and now I've just been given this opportunity as a surprise notice. Does this mean I'll be the new king of boxing?"
Admittedly, the 31-year-old Fielding enters his first fight outside of Europe as largely an unknown in the U.S. So who exactly is he?
"I'm a chilled out guy from Liverpool," Fielding said. "I'm not going to shout at the cameras. I just work hard and fight and that is all I can do and all I can be."
One thing Fielding, with his everyman vibe, hopes to do is become an inspiration from others as a model of what believing in yourself can look like. Just weeks after lineal heavyweight championto fight Deontay Wilder to a thrilling draw following battles with mental health, obesity and drug addiction, Fielding feels a kinship with his countryman.
"Tyson Fury and I go back," Fielding said. "He won the amateur championships the same year I did. He went to Germany and beat [Wladimir] Klitschko [in 2015] to win the world title and I went to Germany to win a world title. He just fought in the U.S. and should have won and now I am fighting in the U.S."
Fielding admits to opening 2018 on a bit of a downward spiral mentally as the phone stopped ringing for big opportunities inside the ring.
"I was down. Months are going by and I'm in the gym and there is no dates," Fielding said. "The first six months of the year to now, I just stayed in the gym and stayed focused. I was listening to positive podcasts and at the end, look at me now. I just say to anyone in life or in sport, don't let defeat bother you and don't let no one say you can't. Stay focused and stay positive and keep working hard."
Fielding, a light puncher who enters as a heavy underdog against Alvarez despite advantages in height and weight, will have his chance to author his own "Rocky" moment in a life and career that has already been filled with many of them.
#OneDay is now.
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