By Elliot Foster
Stephen Smith got back to winning ways after more than a year out.
The 33-year-old has been inactive since suffering a gruesome ear injury against Francisco Vargas.
Smith, who is a former British and Commonwealth champion and a former two-time world title challenger, has continued to train during his time out.
And he snapped a 17-month hiatus at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on Friday, exclusively live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN Stateside, as part of the supporting cast to Jordan Gill's bid to retain the WBA International featherweight title against Enrique Tinoco.
‘Swifty’, who took on Des Newton over six rounds after forgetting his shorts, got the win by a margin of 60 points to 54.
Newton, to his credit, gave a more than decent account of himself, but Smith was in control throughout and even dropped his man in the penultimate stanza.
“This was just about getting back in there again after having 12 months of doing nothing,” Smith said. “I was getting up in the morning and just going about my day. I didn’t feel like a boxer anymore and getting that win and having my hand raised again, after a load of messing around through the week, made that difference and got me back into the swing of things.”
Smith will be hoping that this win can catapult him back into title contention.
“I need to be active again now, I’ve had over a year out and I’m learning on the job again. If Eddie comes to Joe [Gallagher, Smith’s trainer and manager] over the weekend and I go back in the gym on Monday to be told that I’m out again next month, I’ll be buzzing.
“I had to get the weight down before I could fight but that’s out the way now, that’s goal number one done, and it’s about setting bigger goals and getting better fights. I was mandatory for the European title for five years and stepped aside to allow Martin J. Ward to fight for it. It’s been too long.
“That’s a fight that appeals to me, the fight with Ward, as is the shot at the European, but ultimately I want to carry on feeling like a boxer and that starts with getting back out again sooner rather than later.”