Britain’s best-loved journeyman hangs up his gloves next month after he reaches a century of fights

For six years, Johnny Greaves has fought champions and top prospects often at just a few hours’ notice and his clowning, toughness and sense of humour have made him a fans’ favourite.
BT Sport have been following Greaves for a documentary and their cameras will be there when he has fight No 99 at York Hall in Bethnal Green on Saturday, September 7 and at the same venue when his colourful career comes to an end on Sunday, September 29.
Greaves will have home advantage at the York Hall just a couple of tube stops from his East Ham home.
“From the start, the aim was to have 100 fights,” said the 34 year-old southpaw, “and if I was offered a title fight for my 101st I wouldn’t want it.
“Physically I could carry on, but I’ve picked up a few injuries. Even when I knew I wasn’t going to win, I still stood in front of boys and tried to entertain.
“I found a niche for myself, but it takes more out of you than if you get on the back foot and run.
“It’s been hard for my missus and kids and now I will get to spend more time with them.”
Greaves has shared a ring with nine fighters who have gone on to win British, Commonwealth or European titles, says Gavin Rees is the best opponent he’s faced and Johan Perez is the biggest puncher.
They met on the David Haye-Audley Harrison undercard in Manchester in November, 2010 and Greaves said of the Venezuelan: “He was so heavy handed.
“It felt like he had bricks in his gloves. I did everything I could to put him off his game. I was just winding him up and that helped me get through it. He came in to my changing room after the fight, pointed at his head, said: ‘Mad !” then walked out again.”
Greaves had around 50 unlicensed fights before turning professional in 2007.
“I had a go for my first few fights,” he said. “I was going for knock outs and thought I had won a couple. But I kept losing and the referees weren’t even giving me a round on their score cards. I was going home bashed up, cut and beaten.
“I learned how the game works. On small-hall shows, the referees don’t do you any favours when you box local ticket sellers and on the bigger shows you are always up against up-and-coming stars. You’re never going to get a decision against them. Anyway, if you upset a good lad, you will never get another fight.”
Greaves discovered that after recording his first win – at the 11th attempt.
“I was fighting every other week and after that, the ‘phone didn’t ring for a couple of months,” he said. “I started to think about becoming a journeyman. I reckoned I could get on my bike, fiddle my way through fights without getting bruised up. I can fight when I have to, but they weren’t paying me enough to have a tear up.
“Some young lads really fancy themselves, so I wind them up and tell them: ‘You fight like a poof.’ That winds them up and they end up trying too hard to knock me out. When that happens, they might as well put a postage stamp on their punches. I can see them coming and it makes my job easier. As soon as I give them the hump, I know I will get through it. I’m not bad defensively. I get out of the way of most of them.”
Greaves is set to pass on his hard-earned wisdom. He has his second’s license and has been working with big brother Frank.
“We are looking to build a good stable of fighters,” said Greaves.

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