Retro: Sheffield World champion Johnny Nelson retires after great 20-year career

WBO Cruiserweight Championship of the World at Ponds Forge between the holder Johnny Nelson, right,  and  Marcelo Dominguez from Argentina
WBO Cruiserweight Championship of the World at Ponds Forge between the holder Johnny Nelson, right, and Marcelo Dominguez from Argentina
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Sheffield’s World boxing champion Johnny Nelson quit at the top, reported Simon Meeks in The Star on Saturday, September 23, 2016.

He announced his retirement after a back injury and withdrew from his WBO cruiserweight championship defence against Enzo Maccarinelli in Manchester.

Brendan Ingle said  Johnny Nelson was his greatest success

Brendan Ingle said Johnny Nelson was his greatest success

It meant the end of a 20-year career in which Nelson picked up British, European and world honours.

He also defended his world title 14 times but felt that he could no longer achieve full fitness. His abdication left the title in Maccarinelli’s hands.

Nelso had talked in the past about retirement but was adamant this was the end.

He said: “That’s it, I can’t train to the level I want.

“My 50 percent would be 100 percent of somebody else but that’s not good enough.

“It would kill me to lose to a pup like Maccarinelli, someone I know I could knock out if I was fully fit.

“I won’t fight again because that would look as if I had been just avoiding Maccarinelli, and that’s not the case.

“It’s time for me to carry on with the rest of my life. I’m like the oldest school leaver ever, at 39!”

Robert Smith, assistant general secretary of the British Board of Control said: “Johnny Nelson has been a great ambasssador for boxing, and a great champion.

“He has done it the ard way throughout his 20-year-career and has always been a gentleman and a credit to the sport.”

Nelson said that he intended to carry on training and wanted to continue his broadcasting career.

He had just signed a new contract with Sky and was set to go to America to do some filming for the BBC. He also had some filing work lined up in France. The Sheffielder had been described by Brendan Ingle as the biggest success to emerge from his famous Wincobank stable, in view of the way he battled his way to the top.

Nelson lost his first three pro fights, but went on to right for the WBU and WBF titles, and gained his WBO crown in March 1999, by defeating Carl Thompson.

His record was 45 wins (29 by knockout, 12 defeats and two draws.

He overcame a serious knee injury but had been hampered by the persistent back problem.

Maccarinelli was now set to fight Huddersfield’s Mark Hobson in a rematch of their thrilling earlier fight in a bout which would be chief support to super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe’s defence against Sakio Bika.