Just over three years ago, Rocky Fielding was fast approaching the biggest fight of his young career. Undefeated at the time, Fielding was only months removed from knocking out the historically tough veteran Brian Vera. At the time, that was undeniably a career-best showing for Rocky, an early finish opposite a man that had made a habit of taking contenders the distance. That obviously hadn't been the case against Fielding though, and with that eye-opening result, Rocky moved on to an anticipated clash with domestic rival Callum Smith.
The pair of contenders were both born in Liverpool, England and with neither having tasted defeat thus far, the inevitable matchup came to fruition. While Smith had probably been the more spectacular talent in his ascension, Fielding entered with world title aspirations of his own, creating a quite unique British title clash. However, the packed crowd wouldn't witness the back and forth affair that most had hoped for, with Smith instead hurting Fielding early and never looking back either.
After hitting the canvas within the first 30 seconds, Rocky tried to fire back in spirited fashion but in truth, he was fighting an uphill battle that realistically, had become insurmountable. Smith simply wouldn't let up and after two more knockdowns, this fight was over, all in the very first round. Fielding’s steady progression had led him to this moment but unfortunately, things had unfolded in the worst fashion imaginable, with Rocky’s slow start not only costing him the fight but more than that, dramatically stunting his career momentum too.
On paper, this had been a spotlight to dream of for Fielding but on fight night, it had proved to be a nightmare. It wouldn't be an easy fight back to relevance either, returning to action opposite the gritty Christopher Rebrasse. The Frenchman was a legitimate threat and considering Fielding’s last result, this fight was about more than just the challenges Rebrasse’s skill-set presented too. Those fears would indeed come to the fore early, with Fielding hitting the canvas again, this time in only the 2nd round.
It wouldn't really get much easier from there either, with Fielding generally struggling throughout the back and forth affair but showing heart to claw himself back into the fight. In the end, Rocky would get his hand raised but the verdict was controversial, with Fielding’s gritty showing not doing much to disprove his critics’ dismissal. Nonetheless, Rocky was back in the win column and he’d stay there too, scoring a stoppage win over the overmatched Istvan Zeller before again stepping back up in competition, this time taking on John Ryder for the British Super Middleweight crown.
It wouldn't be a dominant performance or even a particularly memorable one either but on fight night, Fielding did enough, taking another split decision win and moving on with his career too. Though he’d won three straight fights though, Fielding’s momentum hadn't nearly recovered, instead seemingly operating as a quite muted British champion and one that frankly, looked long removed from world title hopes. Either way, his spot was an admirable one and in his first title defense, Fielding would breathe new life into his career as well as the perception surrounding it.
Taking on David Brophy, Fielding would also secure the Commonwealth title, finishing his opponent in the first round to create a quite fitting full-circle visual. Just like he had in every fight since that Smith loss, Fielding remained in Liverpool’s Echo Arena but this time, he was the one with the quick start and more importantly, he was the one scoring the 1st round knockout. The win had been emphatic but even still, I’m not sure anyone could’ve predicted where it would lead Fielding, less than a year late fighting for the WBA Super Middleweight Title.
Only a points win over eight rounds had come in-between, and though he was likely picked to be nothing but a comfortable title defense, this was an opportunity that Fielding simply had to seize. Fighting Tyron Zeuge in his first fight outside of Britain, Fielding surprised most onlookers, stopping his undefeated foe and in doing so, getting a world title belt around his waist. The fight may not exactly have been a global event, and its prize is undeniably tarnished by its ‘regular’ labeling but none of that mattered to Fielding and frankly, nor should it have either.
Considering where that Smith shortcoming had left him, this was a validating achievement and regardless of where among them he stood, that belt automatically gave Rocky credence as one of the division’s elite. The general response to Fielding’s triumph reflected that too, with more respect than analysis greeting the result. With that being said though, not even a wild dream could’ve imagined where the belt would lead Rocky’s career. Out of nowhere, we’d find out soon enough regardless, as Fielding’s first defense just happened to come against the sport’s biggest star.
In one of 2018’s most shocking boxing announcements, Fielding was booked to fight Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at Madison Square Garden. Years ago, the Callum Smith fight felt like the occasion of a lifetime but in hindsight, that feels almost comical by comparison to what awaits Fielding in NYC. The world’s most famous fighter in the world’s most famous arena, not a bad spot for Rocky’s US debut, especially considering that he’ll be entering as champion too. As a fight, the challenges here are obvious but as a moment, this is quite an incredible time to be Rocky Fielding.
Even if Fielding had defeated Smith back in 2015, this fight still would’ve felt like a pipe dream at best. ‘Canelo’s overall stature and status are without match and considering Rocky’s career approach, this kind of stage never looked particularly likely. Comfortable in the background and never quick to promote himself, Rocky Fielding has seldom been Britain’s focus but on Saturday night, he’ll have the boxing world’s eyes staring in his direction. Fielding’s route here has been extraordinary but even still, this destination feels unfathomable.
This Saturday night at MSG, Rocky Fielding may not be the focus but even if in fittingly understated fashion, he’ll share the spotlight nonetheless. Whether it be this weekend or not, Rocky’s belt will inevitably leave him one day but this moment, it’ll live forever in his mind. In the unlikeliest of ways, Fielding has maneuvered his way to a fairy tale ending. The question is, can he now pull off a Hollywood finish?