MORE than a year has passed since Nicki Smedley opted to return to the ring and rebuild his reputation.
The welterweight took a self-inflicted two year break from boxing between 2008-10 as he struggled to cope with the death of his grandmother.
Smedley also had well publicised fallouts with his father and trainer Chris, as well as promoter Dennis Hobson.
But now, having overcome his personal problems, the 25--year-old is bracing himself for the biggest fight of his career. He challenges experienced southpaw Nigel Wright for the English title on a Sky Sports-screened show at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre on Saturday.
Of his two year inactivity, Smedley said: “I wasn’t enjoying it, but I in my time off I missed boxing and it made me more hungry and I think I have shown that I have grown up a lot in the last two fights. I feel ready to take that next step in my career. Nigel Wright represents that.”
It promises to be a major test for Smedley, who has won 14 of all his pro bouts, with County Durham fighter Wright having previously fought for the Commonwealth belt as well as several British title attempts.
Smedley senior said: “Nicki has grown in stature and confidence the last five months, his ability has never been in question, but now I see a work ethic that is where it needs to be.
He told The Star: “If he [Nicki] does what we know he can do, he will come away with a win.
“A lot of people expect Nigel [Wright] to win; he has got the title so he has got everything to lose.”
Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell tops the Hobson show and will defend his Bantomweight Commonwealth title against Nick Otieno.
Liam Cameron, Reagan Denton, Gavin McDonnell, Jamie Ward, Imran Khan, Kyle Winters, Andy Roberts and Danny Tombs are also on the bill.
General seats cost £30, ringside £65 and VIP £100. For more information, call 0114 243 4443