DONCASTER boxer Andy Roberts is set to bid farewell to the professional ranks this season after chalking up 50 paid fights.
“That was the target I set for myself when I first turned professional and as I have already had 45 I should reach that figure” he told The Star this week.
Now 35, Roberts is a member of Sheffield manager Dennis Hobson’s stable, though he trains at Brodsworth MW with trainer Kev Burton.
A former professional boxer himself, Burton is also coaching local youngsters at the venue and Roberts intends to join him after he hangs up the gloves.
“I’m looking forward to getting involved in the running of the club, “ said Roberts.
Roberts turned professional with top Doncaster manager John Rushton, whom he thanked this week for the work he did with him in his early career, as an 18 year-old after having had less than a dozen bouts with the now defunct Bentley MW club.
The fact that he was a big ticket seller, bettered only by Stefy Bull, meant that Roberts regularly featured on Rushton Promotions’ shows at the Dome.
Not the biggest of punchers, Roberts more than made up for his lack of real firepower with a good workrate and dogged determination.
He won the Central Area bantamweight title and after relinquishing that he won the flyweight title. But rather than being attracted by the possibility of challenging for more prestigious titles, Roberts found himself more attracted by the bright lights of Doncaster town centre.
He eventually lost interest and quit the sport prior to making a successful comeback some years later during which time he won five out of five.
This time family commitments got in the way and, after finding it difficult to marry the two, he again hung up his gloves.
It was another seven years before he stepped into a ring again after linking up with Hobson 18 months or so ago.
Now plying his trade as a bantamweight, Roberts accepts that his days as a title contender are long gone and readily admits that he is only in the sport for the money.
That said, he still has pride in his performance and trains hard five days a week.
“If it wasn’t for the injuries that I pick up these days I’d be fitter than I was when I was a young kid earlier in my career,” he said. “Had I trained like I do now, and been as dedicated, I’d have done better than I did in my early 20s - but I suppose a lot of sportsmen can say that.”
Having fought so many times at the Dome during his time in the Rushton stable. Roberts says he’d love to celebrate his 50th fight there but doesn’t hold out too much hope of doing so. He was back at the Dome several months ago to watch stablemate Jamie McDonnell beat Stuey Hall in a fight where three titles were at stake.
“To be honest I hadn’t rated Jamie all that highly before that fight even though he was the the Commonwealth and European bantamweight champion,” said Roberts. “
“But I actually went up to him after the fight and said that he had made me eat my words,” added Roberts, who was scheduled to meet McDonell’s twin Gavin earlier this year.
“I honestly thought that Hall was going to beat him but Jamie showed everything on he night that you look for in someone aiming for the top and I think he’s going to do really well (on the world stage).
“He’s done really well and it’s great for Doncaster to have someone who holds three major titles. “
Dons boss Tony Miller believes England could lift Rugby League’s Four Nations’ title for the first time.
England take on holders and reigning world champions, New Zealand, at Hull’s KC Stadium on Saturday night with the winners meeting Australia at Elland Road on Saturday week in the final.
Although England were beaten 36-20 by the Aussies at Wembley at the weekend, Miller says he saw enough to convince him that the host nation can go all the way.
“I thought that England played well and I don’ think the score was a true reflection of the game,” he said. “Australia probably just edged it, but it could have been a different outcome had England not had what was shown on television to be a perfectly good try disallowed just after half-time.
“I thought that we started really brightly and in addition to scoring one try we also went close on another couple of occasions.
“I thought the back-three (full-back and two wingers) were outstanding. It will be tough on Saturday but if we play with the same effort and commitment we showed last weekend, I think we’ ve got a really good chance of beating the Kiwis.”