The former boxer selling his artwork to world champions

Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, Errol Spence Jr, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Callum Smith, Sergey Kovalev, Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr, Jorge Linares, Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.

Welsh artist Patrick Killian has painted and met some of boxing’s greatest names.

His latest work – seen and signed by Joshua and Ruiz in Saudi Arabia – saw the victorious Britain tell him: “I appreciate your efforts mate.”

Individual sales of fight-themed pieces have earned Killian five-figure sums in the past, helping him forge a career from the juggling act he once faced in spending days in art school while punching for his country.

He told BBC Sport about some of his favourite work to date.

‘Iron Mike’ offered belief

Patrick Killian’s painting of Mike Tyson was started in college

Killian – who boxed for Wales while attending art school – exhibited his Joshua-Ruiz rematch piece in the Riyadh fight hotel where both fighters stayed before Saturday’s bout.

“Patrick, you get everywhere,” Joshua’s team shouted at him.

These days, the 45-year-old pitches up at events across the globe. He painted Ruiz and Joshua in New York before their first meeting and gave the work to the victorious Mexican.

Nearly three decades have passed since he decided to combine his sporting passion – discovered when he went down to Cwmcarn Amateur Boxing Club – with his talent for art.

“I started this one of Mike Tyson at college. My lecturers did not like it but I knew because of my passion for boxing I could sell it,” he recalls.

“It was a fiery piece, full of reds and oranges, so I hope it captured him. It has his menacing glare, his size. After that piece I realised it could be my avenue in life given I’d been an amateur boxer.”

Floyd gave me his watch… I wish

‘That’s awesome man’ – Floyd Mayweather appreciated Killian’s painting of him

Killian, who is based in Abercarn in south Wales, typically makes an original piece along with a handful of copies and prints. Social media messages flow in from boxing enthusiasts who wish to make purchases.

Over time, he has been sought out by some in the business in order to quite literally bring colour to a fight week or event.

“I was at an evening with Floyd Mayweather and he was at one end of the room and he was saying to someone ‘there’s a guy over there painting me’,” says Killian.

“I presented Floyd with a small piece of him staring down Manny Pacquiao. As he walked past he put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘that’s awesome man’.

“When people ask if he bought the piece, I joke that he gave me his watch for it as I think the watch he had on was worth about $500,000. I made do with him signing the painting.”

Colours in homes all over the world

Deontay Wilder signs the painting Patrick Killian did of his fight against Tyson Fury

Recent trips to Las Vegas saw Killian produce a piece featuring Fury and his US promoter Bob Arum. Both signed the work, which quickly gained attention in the sporting memorabilia shop housed in the MGM Grand hotel.

Killian had already got to grips with painting Fury in December of 2018 when the Briton shared a thrilling draw with Deontay Wilder.

“I was in Los Angeles exhibiting it at the media hotel,” says Killian. “A guy came up to me and asked if it was sale, he was from Utah in the US so we did a deal and I was glad this piece went to a good home.

“Fury is a real character to be around. We’ve had a few jokes and I just think he is generally a good guy. I remember him telling me about how he supports the Frank Bruno Foundation because of its work on mental health and all that he has been through.”

The paint that says you’ve made it

Nate Diaz spotted the painting of himself by Patrick Killian at a UFC event

Memorabilia gathered at iconic fights offers a fan the chance to look back on the highs of following their sporting fashion.

But as Killian has found out, there are moments where fighters stop in their tracks and ponder their own role in the circus.

“I was in Las Vegas, doing something on UFC rather than boxing for once and I was painting a piece live for the Nate Diaz v Conor McGregor rematch,” he adds.

“Suddenly this guy behind me says ‘you know when you’ve made the big time if someone is painting you’.

“I turned around and it was Diaz. I couldn’t believe it and made him come into the gallery I had there so I could give him a canvas. Do you know what, that guy is so cocky on air but what a lovely, down to earth man he was. He seemed really chuffed with what I gave him.”

Painting and travelling with open eyes

Patrick Killian visited Saudia Arabia in 2018 for the World Boxing Super Series final between George Groves and Callum Smith

Killian’s trip to Saudi Arabia for boxing is not his first. He visited Jeddah for the World Boxing Super Series final between George Groves and the victorious Callum Smith in 2018.

“This piece was great for me as I was invited to Jeddah to exhibit at the World Boxing Super Series,” he added.

“I met Callum and he signed the painting for me. He loved it and it was nice for me to give him some copies of the original.”

As Joshua and Ruiz prepared for their own Saudi visit against a backdrop of criticism given the country’s much-criticised human rights record, Killian had previous experience of what a trip to the Middle East country was like.

“You had to be invited to Saudi Arabia at that time, now you can just apply for a visa,” he explained.

“It was great for me before this latest Joshua-Ruiz trip and all the negativity I had been hearing about Saudi Arabia. I knew the hospitality was unbelievable.”

Killian used to dream that his skilful hands could take him around the world – but rather than boxing gloves, it is his paintbrush that has ensured he is part of the fight game’s travelling circus.


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