Many of the rivals who once ran from him may be long-gone into retirement, but Sheffield-based former world champion Junior Witter insists he is still fighting fit and targeting another major title shot at the age of 41.
Witter will travel to the Cote d’Azur to face Ahmed El Mousaoui for the EU welterweight belt on April 17 in a fight he hopes can provide a springboard back towards the global level he once graced with such aplomb.
It is nine years since Witter made good on his early career promise by dethroning DeMarcus Corley to win the WBC light-welterweight title at Alexandra Palace in London and throw out a challenge to domestic rival Ricky Hatton.
But the bout with Hatton never happened and Witter was destined to remain in the Hitman’s shadow despite a three-year reign which finally ended at the clever hands of Timothy Bradley in Nottingham in 2009.
The Ingle man never stopped fighting, resurrecting his career after three straight losses in 2011, and convincing himself he still had what it takes despite a tough British title defeat to Frankie Gavin in 2012.
Witter said: “I’m not getting hurt and I’m not getting beaten up and I still feel I can beat the people who are out there.
“The loss to Frankie Gavin was a bit annoying and that was the only time I thought about retiring because I did not get up for the fight and didn’t fight at anything like the level I’m capable of.
“But I took some time out and I realised I’m not done. I’m going to win the EU title next month and I want another world title shot. I don’t see why I can’t step up and take that chance.”
Witter lost his first world title shot against Zab Judah in Glasgow in 2000 and his fleet-footed style attracted scorn from fans and prospective opponents alike.
But he continually defied his critics - with Hatton, now his friend, among the most vocal - to keep winning and a brilliant points victory over Lovemore N’Dou in Los Angeles in 2005 paved his way to the big-time.
Now Witter fights on secure in the knowledge that when the time does come to hang up his gloves, he will have no regrets about a career that managed to reach the bright lights.
“I suppose I could look back and say I could have had some bigger fights and made some more money, but I’ve got to be happy with how it’s gone,” added Witter.
“I won British, Commonwealth and European titles and then the WBC belt and I have nothing more to prove but I am still convinced there is one more big chance out there for me.”