By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
JUNIOR WITTER insists he can box on into his forties and hopes winning Prizefighter will launch him back into world title contention.
Junior Witter is a leading contender to win tonight’s welterweight contest at London’s York Hall to prove he can still cut it in the ring at the age of 37.
The former WBC world light-welterweight champion aims to bounce back after three years in the wilderness.
He lost his belt in May 2008 to American Tim Bradley – currently considered the world’s No.1 light-welterweight – by a split points decision.
He then had to retire with an elbow injury in his attempt to win it back against Devon Alexander, in 2009. To cap a miserable few years his father died from cancer last June.
Witter was still struggling with his focus when he lost to Victor Lupo Puiu in February.
His third defeat in four fights left him a long way from the world’s elite at welterweight, the division he has moved up to.
But the Yorkshire boxer insists he is now physically and mentally fitter than he has been at any point in the last few years.
And Witter plans to go on far longer than former WBO world cruiserweight champion, Johnny Nelson, who retired at 37.
The pair used to train with each other at the Wincobank Gym in Sheffield and Witter said: “I’m as hungry as I’ve ever been and I’ve still got five years in me.
“I don’t get beat up and I’ve still got the power. I lost focus after my dad died and it took a while to get that focus back.
“I can carry on for a while because of the way I fight and my mental approach.
“Johnny Nelson used to train at the same gym as me and he was a world champion late into his thirties.
“He was a great defensive fighter but his heart for the game had gone. He wanted to go down different routes, but I want to carry on boxing.
“My power and accuracy hasn’t gone and I originally started boxing at welterweight so this division is great for me.”
Essex bruiser Colin Lynes is also feeling young at heart after turning his career around.
Lynes is a former British and European light-welterweight champion who revived his career with an impressive points win over Bradley Pryce in February.
He aims to go one better tonight than his last shot at Prizefighter, when he was a losing finalist to Gavin Rees.
He said: “If I don’t do well in this, where does someone like myself go? But I’m not even asking that question. I know I have still got what it takes.”