By Shaun Brown
Not long after John Simpson, 23-9 (10), had knocked out friend and rival Paul Appleby last Friday night in Glasgow, his trainer Danny Lee sounded a battle cry. “We want a European title shot!” Lee told BoxingScene.
When I asked him why Simpson, who had left Billy Nelson’s stable to reunite with his former trainer, who has long paid his dues at domestic level, hadn’t had a shot at being Europe’s finest, one shrug of the shoulders almost in disbelief was Lee’s response.
“He should have had one years ago, I don’t know why but he’s back. John’s stronger for the weight and hitting harder – John is back.”
Six-months ago the seemingly unbreakable Scot was dropped with a body shot that sounded more like a gun shot from British featherweight champion Lee Selby. It was the first occasion in 31-fights that Simpson had been stopped. If the 28-year-old had decided to walk away, his head would have been held high and no one could have begrudged him his retirement.
After Christmas, options were discussed both inside and outside the ring regarding his future. On April 20 he told this website: “Any more defeats and it will be game over, I’ll wrap it up,” during this interview https://www.boxingscene.com/john-simpson-any-more-defeats-game-over--51979.
In saying that, his seat at what is usually a jam packed last chance saloon for our sport was taken once again with this time a few extra pounds on at super featherweight. So far the move to 130lbs has given John a new lease of life.
Speaking to the new Celtic champion straight after his 23rd win he looked not only on top of the world but rejuvenated and capable of going back into the ring to go some more rounds.
After winning a Scottish civil war that won’t be forgotten the engine on his career has been restarted and he was visibly excited at what may lie ahead.
“I feel great, I could have went twelve rounds (the contest was scheduled for 10),” said Simpson. “This is a good title win and it was good to get a win again after what happened against Selby. I was retiring tonight if I didn’t win, but I pulled it out the bag.”
He went on to pay tribute to his friend but enemy for the night Paul Appleby.
“I hit with some great shots – he kept coming, but that’s what he’s like. He never gives up.”
Appleby was taken to hospital afterwards with a suspected brain injury, but thankfully BoxingScene have been informed that this was brought on by severe dehydration.
In beating the 24-year old, who displayed unbelievable resolve, Simpson exacted revenge after losing his British featherweight title in 2008 when making the second defence of his belt against Appleby, who edged out a points victory on that occasion.
A score was settled and a performance was given that was a near career best. When asked if he agreed with that assessment Simpson said: “I don’t know if I’d say that merely out of respect for Paul but I am really happy with the way I performed. This puts me back in the game and I’m definitely staying at super featherweight.”
After that triumph who can blame him?