Chanda has come back from the brink to set up title fight
PUBLISHED: 15:30 17 March 2016 | UPDATED: 11:39 21 March 2016
Matthew Chanda is on the hunt for a British title fight within the next year – something which never looked on the horizon after a horrific incident in 2009 which left him on the verge of quitting the sport.
The 29-year-old super-bantamweight, who has resided in Kilburn all his life, is unbeaten in his five professional bouts to date and faces Jamie Speight on Saturday to contest the vacant Southern Area title at York Hall.
Rewind to seven years ago and Chanda thought his days in boxing were numbered after he was the victim of a mistaken identity attack when coming home from a training session.
He said: “I had just finished training on a Monday afternoon and I was driving home from the gym.
“I had stopped at the traffic lights and someone walked past my car and just hit me with a baseball bat. The police said they thought it was some kind of gang initiation.
“I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was about to turn professional at the time and then that happened, so it was devastating really.”
The attack affected Chanda not just physically, but mentally. He conceded that he was all set to give up on the sport, until his trainer persuaded him not to.
He continued: “The attack left me deaf in my right ear. I was going to leave the sport alone.
“I had a fractured skull and had to learn how to walk again as well. I thought that was it with me and boxing. It looked like it was all over.
“I started training with the juniors again after a while and after moving around and stuff I was feeling okay, so my coach said maybe we should give it a go again.
“I had a few amateur bouts afterwards and I lost more than I won, but I think it was more a mental barrier than anything else.
“I was still competing at a high level and only lost in the elites, and my coach said I should turn professional. I haven’t looked back since then and I’m still unbeaten.”
Chanda is searching a sixth successive victory against reigning Southern Area featherweight champion Speight, who has won 13 of his 21 professional bouts to date.
The former Crown & Manor ABC ace, who won two national novice titles, four London championships and a Gold medal at the Haringey Box Cup during his time at the Hoxton-based club, is confident he can overcome the challenge of the 27-year-old, who is dropping down a weight for this title bout.
“It’s been a long time coming fighting for the Southern Area title,” admitted Chanda. “I’m confident I’ve got the skills and tools in my locker to get the job done.
“I’ve been doing lots of track sessions with a running club based in Walthamstow and doing some sparring with former English champion Ashley Sexton and some other amateur fighters.
“That’s all been really good preparation, so I’m raring to go ahead of Saturday’s fight now.”
Chanda will be mandatory for an English title bout should he defeat Speight on Saturday, with the long-term goal securing that elusive British title – something he believes he is already ready for.
“I feel I’m capable of being the British champion now, so if I was offered a British title fight after this one of course I would take it,” revealed Chanda.
“Some people go straight to the British title after because the Southern Area is so prestigious, so hopefully I’ll be on the radar to be nominated for a British title this year.
“If I do a good job on Saturday then maybe I can leapfrog the English title and go straight for the British.
“I’m 29 but I’m a young 29-year-old – I have years left in me yet. I haven’t been involved in as many fights as I would have, had that incident not occured.
“So, my body is fresh and I feel I’ve got the right mix of youth and experience to succeed and push forward in this sport.”