As he closes the door on a professional career that saw him compete on some of boxing’s biggest stages domestically and abroad, Stevie Spark (16-3, 14 KOs) has one request from the many fans across the globe that had the pleasure of watching him slug it out.
The Toowoomba native simply hopes that pundits acknowledge that he gave every inch of his being to the fight game.
“I hope people remember me for the good fights that I put on and that I never ran from any challenge and I always tried to give my all in the ring. That’s it,” Spark told The Inner Sanctum.
“I really pride myself on giving absolutely 100%.
“It’s hard to view myself from other people’s shoes I guess. I know how I view myself and it’s that I always gave everything to the sport and always tried to fight with all my heart every single time.
“I hope people view it the same.”
From the outset, it seems that his wish has been granted.
News broke on Tuesday that the 27 year old had hung up the gloves, following a ten year run that included bouts on three continents.
The decision to retire at such a young age came as a shock to most, given that Spark entered 2024 world-ranked at welterweight and seemingly ready to start a run towards a major title.
Despite the collective bewilderment, tributes flowed from a grateful boxing community. Many of those sending well wishes indeed appearing thankful to have watched ‘The Viking’ ply his trade.
As a result, Spark admits he has been delighted by the interactions.
“It’s kind of humbling to read. The amount of support I’ve had across the whole world has been amazing,” he said.
“I haven’t had to read a bad comment at all. Everything’s just been about how much they enjoyed watching me fight, how exciting I was and how I brought it every time.
“I love the support from the whole community.”
It might even be apt to say that the adulation has come at the right time. Better still, it has been a handy remedy for the mental pressure Spark has endured when weighing up his options.
For months, he has pressed forward, injuries nagging and the mind heavy, something he had done countless times in the past. What set this period apart from the others though, is that this time he was hoping to reignite the flame of desire.
Ironically enough, the turning point came when Spark put pen to paper for a bout set for April.
It had become clear to him that he had been running against the mantra that had got him to this point. That is, if you’re going to do anything, you give it everything you have.
“I signed on Monday morning to fight,” Spark said.
“I got to training that night and I’d been trying to change my mindset, because boxing’s all mental. I was there and I was like ‘I’m just still hating this.’
“Go back a year ago, I would have smashed down walls to get to where I needed to be in this sport to achieve my goals.
“I just didn’t have that same burning desire to make it happen no matter what and to me, that was probably a sign that I needed to have a rest.
“I’ve always done everything ‘do or die,’ it’s 100 percent. I always give 100 percent to what I do. That’s the way I fight as well, so I don’t want to get in there and let anyone down or let myself down.
“You’ve got to love what you do, especially in this sport because it’s the hardest sport in the world, getting punched in the face. It’s even harder to do when you’re not enjoying it and it’s dangerous too.”
Still, the Queenslander admits that the chase of greater heights every time he stepped between the ropes was invigorating.
In Spark’s eyes, the resulting journey that he ventured on in pursuit of glory was a life changing one, full of highs and lows that have made him a better person.
Highs such as claiming the IBF Youth World title against Luis Castillo Leal (23-13, 18 KOs) in his home town of Toowoomba in 2019. Or storming into Ohio to drop and defeat highly touted American Montana Love (18-2-1, 9 KOs) just over a year ago.
Then of course there is the “coming out fight,” a 2021 clash with fellow Aussie Jack Brubaker (17-5-2, 8 KOs) that saw Spark’s talents showcased to a television audience for the first time.
Even in his most disputed contest, a controversial majority decision loss to Mexico’s Gabriel Valenzuela (28-3-1, 17 KOs) in Guadalajara, Spark can see a silver lining. Being able to put on a barn burning fight in front of 51,000 people on a Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) undercard isn’t an opportunity afforded to all fighters.
With a swag of experiences in tow, Spark feels “at peace” with how things have panned out.
“There’s so many highs you go through throughout the sport and sometimes it’s not even the fights. The highs for me are the person I became along the way and the journey,” he lamented.
“I think that’s the greatest thing about this sport, the highs and lows you go through and the person you become out the other side.
“You’ve got to be happy with it at the end of the day.”
For now though, Spark’s attention remains a lot closer to home and specifically upon the impending arrival of a second child.
Free from the rigors of prize fighting’s highest level, he is ready to embrace the future with open arms.
“I’m 27, I’ve got my health, I’m not slurring my words, I talk sharp. I’m pretty happy with that, because there’s a lot my age that probably can’t say the same thing,” he concluded.
“I’ve got one boy already and another on the way. I’m sure they’re going to keep me very busy and on my toes, but I’m so excited for it. I love my son and I can’t wait to have another one.
“(I’m) fully focused on my family and just those sorts of things that I haven’t been able to do. I haven’t been able to enjoy normal life as you would say.
“I’m pretty excited for it.”