MMA coach John Popplewell revels in boxing comeback

Light-middleweight John Popplewell  (right) pictured on his return to the boxing ring.
Light-middleweight John Popplewell (right) pictured on his return to the boxing ring.
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Comeback kid John Popplewell says he is enjoying being back in the boxing ring after making a winning return to the squared circle.

The 34-year-old, based in Carlton-in-Lindrick, had an amateur record of 5-1 before switching to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

He has spent the last few years coaching in MMA but marked his return to competitive boxing with a points victory at Skellow Social Club in Doncaster last month.

Popplewell told the Guardian: “I went out of boxing for abit and have spent the last five years as an MMA trainer.

“I decided to go back to boxing and box under the European Boxing Federation (EBF) at Skellow.

“I won on a points decision and my opponent was given two eight-counts.

“I really enjoy coaching but I wanted that buzz of boxing back.

“I’m from a boxing background but I decided to go into MMA because I wanted a new challenge.

“I love it and I’m always learning.

“Doing MMA certainly helps me because the conditioning and fitness is a massive boost.

“It helps keep me fit and toughens me up.”

Popplewell says that the opponent for his recent comeback, Percy Hess, was similar to him in the sense that he also has a strong MMA background.

John added: “The guy that I fought, Percy, was a really good fighter.

“He’s also an MMA fighter and infact just the week previous, he won a fight in Doncaster by submission inside the first minute, which shows you how good he is.

“You tend to find a lot of MMA fighters take on boxing bouts.”

Popplewell, who trains at Ludus Magnus Training Centre in Adwick-le-Street, says that his preparation for the comeback was surprisingly ideal - that was despite suffering a broken toe in the build-up.

He said: “I broke my toe during build-up for the fight which actually turned out to be a blessing.

“I don’t know whether it was lucky or not but it made be box southpaw.

“I trained specifically as a boxer, which didn’t come naturally at first because I’d been doing MMA for so long.

“Once I got used to it, I was quickly in the mindset of being a boxer again and on the night it certainly helped me win the bout.”

John says that he is now going to embark on a long-term training camp before deciding his next move.

He added: “My next eight months are going to be spenty in an MMA training camp.

“I’m also fully licenced now with the EBF so I’m going to carry on with my fitness work and coaching and then see where I’m at next year.

“I want to sit down, have a good rest and then I’ll be ready to discuss what it is I’m going to do next.”