Former York City Knights stadium announcer Phil Seymour has achieved his dream – to MC at a boxing world title fight. Here he tells his story
On December 17, 2010 I turned 35 and declared that I wanted to ring announce at a boxing world title fight before my 40th birthday. My friends and family said I was being ridiculous, and some called it a pipe dream – it’s easy to see why seeing as I had never ring announced in my life – but I was determined.
I had been stadium announcing for many years, firstly with York City Knights in the rugby league Championship divisions, and latterly with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in Super League. It was at a game at Wakefield that was being televised for Sky Sports that one of the producers said that my voice would really suit being a boxing Master of Ceremonies, and this got me thinking.
Shortly after setting my five-year goal I managed to get my first booking for a fight show at Cage Confrontation 2 in York. The evening went really well, and I got some more bookings for mixed martial arts and Thai-boxing shows from other promoters in the crowd that night.
Also watching was York-based professional boxing trainer Glenn Banks, who said I should get a license from the British Boxing Board of Control to enable me to MC professional bouts. The next day I wrote to the board and swiftly set up an interview where I was granted my licence.
Since then things have moved along quite quickly. Within a year I had been noticed by legendary promoter Frank Maloney. He asked if I would like to announce the undercards at his shows, with a view to stepping up to the main events in time. I jumped at the chance.
My fourth show for Frank was at the enormous Echo Arena in Liverpool, with a full house of 8,000 seated spectators, and a worldwide television audience. I was still only announcing the undercard but it was great experience, and I learned a lot about how to handle the big arena, which is totally different to a rugby stadium or small hall fight show.
Earlier this year Richard Poxon, the matchmaker for former world boxing champion Ricky Hatton’s company Hatton Promotions, asked me to MC a show for him at the Ponds Forge Arena in Sheffield. The bill included an IBF Youth Title fight between Sheffield’s Adam ‘The Bomber’ Etches and Andrei Abramenka from Belarus. This was my first big title fight, and I was to MC the whole show.
The night went brilliantly. Etches won and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. Two days after the show I got a phone call from Dennis Hobson, a man who has previously promoted Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Clinton Woods and Roy Jones Jnr, asking me to MC the IBF Bantamweight Championship of the World between Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell and Mexico’s Julio Ceja on Saturday May 11 at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster. I had no hesitation in saying yes.
Not only will Jamie McDonnell be the first man from Doncaster to contest a boxing world title on the May 11, but I will be the first man from North Yorkshire to ring announce at one! This will be fulfilling a dream that I have chased for two and half years. It has taken some work and effort to get there, but now I couldn’t be more excited!