AFTER five years in the wilderness, it took Reagan Denton - the one-time junkie jailbird - just 77 seconds to stage an emphatic return to the ring.
The Sheffield middleweight unleashed a stunning right hand that decked Nottingham’s Courtenay Owen, who was carrying almost a stone more.
When Denton raised his hands in the air at Don Valley Stadium, it signalled the end, hopefully, of his sinister old life and the start of a new one.
“I have been through a lot, but it feels wicked to be back,” Reagan, aged 32, told The Star.
“From being laid in a jail cell for a couple of years I am now achieving my dream; my foot is now set on the ladder.”
Denton, who once stole to feed a crack and heroin habit, served a total of two and a half years in Doncaster and Lindholme jails.
“In prison I learned who my true pals are and that life is short. I have grown up and turned into a man. I was a bit of a kid before,” he said. “Two years in the nick has done me a world of good. But it wasn’t easy in there. A guy hit me in the showers. I ended up breaking a guy’s jaw. I got hit with a tuna tin in a sock - it cut my eye and cut me bad. That was a bit scary.”
After that brutal experience, Denton handled the pressures of a return to professional boxing relatively easily.
“I wasn’t nervous, I was looking forward to it, after the rubbish I have been through,” he said. “I have been out of prison just a year, and got my licence back. I am different now. I have curbed everything. I have got my own gym in Pitsmoor. It’s not just me to worry about. I have fighters depending on me now.”
Asked if he had any lingering bad habits he replied: “Fast cars, women and pizza! But I am not going to go to jail for that, hopefully.
“This sport can save me.”
The Manor man said boxing had been the one stable factor in his life: “I came back because I can’t get it out of my system. I love it. Nothing beats this; it’s what keeps me grounded. Without this I am lost. I prayed to come back to join up with people I have known for years. After all that’s gone off, me, Glyn Rhodes and Mat Mowatt are back together. I’m back where I belong.”
Ingle puncher Lee Duncan upset the odds at Derby when he handed super-middleweight Ty Mitchell, son of show promoter Clifton Mitchell his first defeat in three outings.
The local southpaw had just been announced as being one of the eight super-middleweights who will contest the latest version of Sky TV’s Prizefighter series.