In many ways, Saturday night was just another day at the office for Sam Noakes. Another win, another stoppage and another belt. In years to come, however, the 26-year-old from Maidstone will look back on his victory over Lewis Sylvester as a job particularly well done.
Over the course of four increasingly dominant rounds Noakes (13-0, 13 KO’s) broke down the previously unbeaten man from Hull, flooring him three times and forcing his corner to throw in the towel.
Noakes put in a career best performance and added the vacant British lightweight title to his Commonwealth strap. He also maintained his record of having stopped every professional opponent he has faced. Not a bad night’s work.
Too often these days, the British title is dismissed as a steppingstone to bigger things. The Lonsdale belt is one of the most prestigious belts in boxing and the lightweight title has an especially rich history. The belt has passed through the hands of Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt, Gavin Rees, Anthony Crolla, Terry Flanagan and Joe Cordina, all of whom went on to win world titles belts.
The moment didn’t pass Noakes by and after the fight he spoke of his determination to take it all in.
“I’m absolutely speechless,” he told Queensberry’s YouTube channel. “The whole week’s gone quickly. Normally, it’s dragging towards the weigh in but it’s all flown by. I’ll be home in a couple of hours, and it’ll be Monday soon enough.
“All I’m thinking about is tonight. I’m gonna get home and enjoy it tonight, even all of next week. I’m not thinking about what’s happening [next]. We’ve got plenty of time. it’s only February so it’s gonna be a big 2024.”
The next significant step for the heavy handed Noakes does seem obvious. On March 8th, European 135lb champion Gavin Gwynne (17-2-1, 5 KO’s) will fight another vicious puncher. He and Mark Chamberlain (14-0, 10 KO’s) will meet on the undercard of the heavyweight clash between two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and MMA superstar Francis Ngannou.
Over the past couple of years, Noakes has been continually linked with both fighters and the pieces have been arranged so that an eventual meeting between he and the winner will be more than just a major domestic showdown, it will move the victor to within striking distance of a world title fight.
“I think it’s a brilliant fight on paper. I can’t really pick or choose. I can see both outcomes coming and I wish both the boys the best,” Noakes said. “Listen, they’re fighters at the end of the day. I ain’t got no problem with them and hopefully I’ll meet the winner at the end of the year but I’m just gonna enjoy this. I’m gonna soak this one up for as long as I can because it’ll be forgotten about soon enough and I’ll be on to the next camp.”