Setbacks and how a person deals with them can define a career. Rocky Fielding has been through his fair share both professionally and personally, but he is back in the ring and hungry for success.
From humble beginnings in Stockbridge ABC Boxing Gym as a youngster to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, the Liverpudlian has experienced plenty of highs and lows.
His most recent setback came in New York when he was defeated by Canelo Alvarez in December.
The second defeat of his professional career saw him lose his WBA world super middleweight title to the Mexican, but the 31-year-old still reflects fondly on the experience – just not the result.
“At the end of the day I lost. As a fighter that’s the hard part. Take everything away I lost,” said Fielding.
“I was gutted. I felt I could have done a lot better. I knew I was up against it; Canelo is an elite fighter.
“I’ve got family. I’ve got my kids and that’s the main thing. The next day I woke up with them and that picked me back up a little bit.”
His professional career, which began in 2010, took off three fights in as he swapped small sports halls for the bright lights of Prizefighter on Sky which brought a winning purse of £32,000.
“I had a decent amateur career, stuck at it, won a few titles and turned pro. Within 10 months I had my first pro fight in a small tent in Salford. I had no promoter, no backer,” explained Fielding.
“Then the call for Prizefighter came five days before the event which was on Sky, a big platform, and something that I needed.
“I had no real experience, but I took a chance and went in and won it and then my profile rose, and I signed with a promoter so that’s where it started.”
Defeat to Canelo was not Fielding’s first setback in his career after he suffered defeat to fellow scouser Callum Smith in 2015 at a sold-out Liverpool Echo Arena.
It was a wake-up call for Fielding, who admitted it made him refocus on just what the sport meant to him. He took a trip to New York with his girlfriend after the Smith defeat and visited Madison Square Garden.
Fielding said: “I went to watch the basketball and I was just dreaming thinking one day I would love to fight here. After three years of just working hard, I got there and fought there.
“When I got to fight Callum and I lost it was the reflection of ‘right that’s it, lets work on things, get a nutritionist in’. It made me hungrier to get back in and get back to the top.”
It was a difficult period for Fielding personally as well. Days after the fight, his mother told him that she had been diagnosed with cancer. It caused the Liverpudlian to take a step back from thinking about boxing and focus on his family.
Reflecting on the situation, ‘Rocky from Stocky’ admitted he could have taken a year out of the sport, but it was his mother who encouraged him to continue training. Three years of dedication and hard work resulted in his WBA super middleweight title victory over German Tyron Zeuge in July.
“She kept it away from me and a couple of days after my fight with Callum she told me. It put things into perspective because this was a bigger challenge, a bigger fight than any boxing match,” he said.
“I put that defeat to one side and my main focus was my family and my brothers and to make sure the cancer didn’t get worse and didn’t spread. It was tough balancing training and taking care of her.
“She beat it and then she got to come to Germany to see me win the world title. It’s been a mad couple of years, but it was a nice ending winning the title.”
It wasn’t the only difficult moment cancer gave Rocky in his career as his long-time coach Oliver Harrison was also diagnosed with the disease 18 months ago. He died in April, aged 58, leading to tributes from the boxing world.
Following Harrison’s diagnosis, Fielding had linked up with Jamie Moore who then took him to a British and world title.
“It was a difficult time,” said Fielding. “Me and Oliver won the British title in April and then he got sick in June but never mentioned anything. We found out that he was really ill.
“I needed to make a move. I beat David Brophy for the British title with Jamie in the corner. I think a little bit of a change of scenery was needed to go to the next level and it has brought the best out of me.”
It is Moore and fellow coach Nigel Travis who have the challenge of re-motivating Fielding and getting him back on track, but Travis believes that it will not be too difficult.
“Rocky is still relatively young. Although he has achieved a great deal, he’s still ambitious to go on to bigger and better things,” said Travis.
“He needed a break. He needed to go away from boxing entirely and not think about boxing at all. That in turn has reignited the fire and made him even more passionate to go and do it again.”
Fielding is a father-of-two. Son, Ralphi, is two and his daughter, Romi, was born in August. Soon after her birth, the call to fight Alvarez arrived so he didn’t get to spend much time with her.
After his defeat in December, the Liverpudlian took three months away from the sport and focused on his family, becoming a full-time dad.
“After the fight we flew to Florida with the kids and spent a few weeks there just switching off,” said Fielding.
“I could take my little lad to nursery, pick him up, do the night feeds, do the nappy changing for my daughter and just go back to being a dad.”
The itch to return to the gym has been getting stronger though, and Fielding is now in the early stages of a training camp at the V.I.P Boxing Gym in Astley for a likely fight date in July.
While an opponent is yet to be confirmed, the former world champion is eager to get back in the ring and return to doing what he does best; winning boxing matches.
He said: “I’m just waiting on a call now off the promoter, off Eddie Hearn and my management to see what the options are.
“My kids are in nursery now. We’ve put them in early so I can get here, and my girlfriend, Jessica, is back to work, and our routine is back. I just need to get in, get a win and get my name back out there.
“Everyone will know me now as Rocky who fought Canelo at the Garden, but I don’t want that, I want to be known as a winner.”