Three-hundred fights, 279 defeats. He has won just 12 times and never knocked anybody out. Kristian Laight’s story is bizarre, writes James Dielhenn, but its ridiculousness has somehow earned him a unique place in history.
Laight is on a 53-fight winless run that he isn’t convinced he will ever snap. The raw statistics paint him as an unmitigated failure – a travelling roadshow with black eyes that never heal. Mark Turley’s Journeymen book details boxers who “lose for a living”. But last weekend Laight reached a remarkable milestone – his 300th professional fight. He lost.
“I’ve never been successful but… well, I suppose I’m not successful at boxing either. But to have 300 fights is an achievement,” Laight told Sky Sports. “I’ve never been knocked out, only stopped on my feet. I fight top quality kids. My little boy will be proud of me, when he’s older.
“Of course I’m a failure in terms of boxing. But when my little boy is older, people will ask him if he was fed, and had clothes on his back. He does. I went out and did it the hardest way imaginable to earn for my family.
“I’ve been successful at holding a job down for so many years. In my eyes, I’ve been successful. I’ve not been able to have a proper job in the past. It’s hard to take orders from a boss when I spend the week doing what I love, waking up when I want, going to bed when I want. I’m happy.”
Nicknamed Mr. Reliable because he never rejects a fight offer, Laight is into the 15th year of a career that has achieved nothing but longevity itself. That, after his latest fight, has given this unlikely cult figure something to hang his hat on, in a sport that can be notoriously unforgiving.
The Warwickshire super-lightweight lost his first five fights, then won his sixth. He has shared the ring with good names – he was the beaten opponent in the debuts of Tyrone Nurse, Tommy Coyle and Lewis Ritson. He has lost to Kevin Mitchell and Derry Mathews. He has lost to several fighters you’ve heard of and many, many more than you will ever know.
The strangest thing about Laight’s bonkers boxing record is that, in 300 fights and 279 defeats, he has been stopped just five times.
The reason is practical – stoppage defeats result in a 28-day medical suspension.
“A month off without earning? I need to hear the final bell. I can’t explain how I do it – it’s experience, little tricks, keeping distance, holding.”
There is a gritty ruthlessness to what Laight is doing, systematically hopping from ring-to-ring while trying to avoid a fight as best as possible. It is a practice that attracts criticism.
“Some people say I don’t try. But I do try,” he said. “The difference is that I box ex-ABA finalists week-in week-out. I’m happy with what I’m doing.
“I should have drawn last Saturday but the ref didn’t give it to me. I’ve been robbed on loads of occasions. Sometimes I get a bad decision and I think: ‘what’s the point of this?’
“I knew I wasn’t going to beat Simon Corcoran. He was a good amateur from a family of champions. I can’t beat him. But I can hear the final bell, give him problems, give him a hard night’s work. I can’t beat these lads but I can hear the final bell.”
Laight has moments that he remembers with genuine fondness – “I boxed Carl Chadwick in Hull on the Tommy Coyle vs Luke Campbell undercard. I boxed brilliantly and won that fight!”