Bradley Saunders does not fear giving his boxing career another crack.
The Sedgefield fighter makes something of a shock return after being named as a member of the cast list for the JD NXTGEN show in Newcastle on Saturday, June 23.
Saunders has not boxed in 21 months, when he suffered two broken hands in a surprise defeat to Renald Garrido in Liverpool in September 2015.
But the 31-year-old says he is relishing a return to the ring at the Walker Activity Dome, where he will fight a six-rounder against a to-be-named opponent.
“I’ll fight whoever they want to put in front of me,” said the ex-WBO inter-continental light-welterweight champion.
“I’ve been back in the gym and I’m punching very hard, but I can’t wait to fight again.
“I’ve had 18 months out and, to be honest, I’ve loved every minute of it.
“It’s been great to go out with the missus for a nice meal and have a bottle of wine or go out with the lads and not worry about how much I drank or ate.
“That doesn’t mean I’ve been unfit, I’ve always prided myself on being physically fit.
“I’ve done a lot of cross fit and felt good and one day I looked in the mirror and said ‘Bradley you can do this’ so I decided it was time to go back to work!
“I know I have more to give, so here I am ready to go again.”
Before the first loss on his pro record, he appeared to be heading towards major title contention at light-welterweight.
But Saunders broke BOTH hands at the Olympia ring against the Frenchman and, frustrated with his inability to throw a punch, ended up headbutting his opponent and being disqualified by referee Steve Gray.
The 2008 Olympian has been plagued with hand trouble for some time, no surprise given a two-decade run in the sport, spanning almost two centuries of amateur and professional bouts.
When being trained by Peter Cope at the Gus Robinson Developments gym, he had a career-saving op from surgeon Mike Hayton back in 2012 after an eight-round points win over ex-Irish champion Peter McDonagh.
The same specialist operated again after his last fight, having bone from his hip grafted onto his hands.
Saunders admits he is in the last-chance-saloon, but is determined to “crack on”.
“Mike has been brilliant for me, he’s prolonged my career,” said Brad, whose younger brother Jeff is an unbeaten pro.
“When I wanted to come back, I went to see the doc to see if I could box.
“He said ‘yes you can fight, but I’d advise you not to’.
“The fact he said I could was good enough for me!
“If my hands go again, that will be the end, 100%, but I want to try, I still feel there is a title there for me.”
Topping the Matchroom-promoted bill will be Rio Olympian Josh Kelly, the Sunderland boxer coming up against Northern Area title contender Tom Whitfield.
For tickets, contact Tracey on 07944 695367.