“I did very well to get where I got in the Olympics,” Fred Evans (7-1) told me candidly. “But I went down the wrong road afterwards and made lots of silly mistakes. I put my boxing on a standstill for too long.”
Eight years ago, inside London’s ExCeL Exhibition Centre, I witnessed a 21-year-old Evans scoop a silver medal for his country. Wins over the likes of Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Taras Shelestyuk saw Evans into the Olympic final, dropping a 17-9 loss to Kazakhstan’s Serik Sapiyev in the welterweight class.
Along with Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams, Anthony Ogogo and Luke Campbell, the Welsh fighter had succeeded; opportunity and riches would surely come knocking as he lapped up the attention of a nation.
“I was on such a high after the Olympics,” Evans added. “Everyone would recognise me wherever I went, and it was great. But perhaps I was a bit too young in the head to realise certain things.”
Britain’s 2012 Olympic team was littered with talent. This “golden generation” was expected to kick on in the years that followed, but Evans didn’t read the script. Run-ins with the law stunted Evans’ chances of building on his success after a home Olympic Games.
“My career should have flown after that,” Evans added. “But my mistakes jeopardised that, and it all went downhill.
“They were mistakes I could have done without. I had a few family issues close to home, and I was hanging around the wrong people in the wrong groups I suppose. I was being led to trouble, finding myself in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Evans made his professional debut in 2017 but has struggled for opportunities or momentum since. A shock defeat to Ryan Toms in 2018 saw Evans’ stock decrease once again, with the Welshman struggling to make weight for the contest.
“I made another silly mistake in doing the weight wrong and ending up with a loss that I could have done without taking. I shouldn’t have been in the ring for that fight. I was ill a week before and the weight piled on. My family and Dad told me to pull out of the fight, but I didn’t. You always underestimate a journeyman, but he [Toms] was a tidy boy and could bang a bit. I didn’t eat in two days and crashed the weight. But all you can do is learn from your mistakes.”
Since teaming up with trainer and former world title challenger Gary Lockett, Evans has recorded two victories against limited opposition in a bid to make a final attempt at a run towards a title.
“Now being with Gary, everything is improving. I feel a lot fitter and stronger. My weight management has improved so much. It was going great, on a good roll in training, and then this happened [COVID-19]. Hopefully, when we are back, we can get some dates locked in, and we can catch up on lost time.”
“I want to get my head down, have a really good camp and then get a few fights under my belt. After that, we can start to look towards a title. If I have to go away from home that’s fine, I think I deserve a shot at some point. Jut to show what I am capable of.”
Fred’s little girl celebrated her first birthday recently, and with a baby boy on the way the 29-year-old has received the wake-up call he needed.
“It makes you think about life a lot different. I just want to get my head down, crack on and make them proud,” Evans concluded. “I know I am good enough; I just need that opportunity to prove it.”
As Evans stood on the podium at London 2012, few would have thought his career that followed would have struggled to get off the ground. It’s been a long road of learning experiences for the Welshman. Now, with a family to provide for and ambition burning brightly again, a run at a title could see him find peace with his career.
“I’m just looking forward now instead of back.”