Peter Cope takes on Neil Hepper in Hartlepool v Darlington derby

Peter Cope at work in Neil Fannan's gym. Picture by STU NORTON
Peter Cope at work in Neil Fannan's gym. Picture by STU NORTON

Peter Cope has got just what he wanted – a rapid return to the ring.

The gifted boxer, beaten narrowly last time out in London, has a Hartlepool v Darlington derby on Saturday, April 22.

Peter showed me that he is a top-level fighter

NEIL FANNAN

Cope will face former Northern Area title challenger Neil Hepper over six rounds in Sedgefield.

The bout takes place on the undercard of the grudge match between elder brother, Daniel, and their former Gus Robinson Developments team-mate turned foe, Billy Snaith.

Daniel will be making a defence of his Northern Area welterweight belt, but for Peter it is an opportunity to build his way back into championship contention.

The 25-year-old is in terrific shape, mentally and physically, having produced a tremendous performance in London against unbeaten Irishman, Paul Hyland Jnr.

While Cope was on the wrong end of a tight decision at the York Hall - judge Jeff Hinds scoring it 78-76 – it was one of the best displays of his career.

Coach Neil Fannan told SportMail: “Peter showed me that he is a top-level fighter.

“Neil Hepper has not shown that standard but no way will we be taking him for granted.

“Hepper will have a lot of fans there and he’ll be up for it.

“I was very impressed with Peter at the York Hall – having watched him in the gym beforehand and in sparring I told him how good he was looking.

“I don’t think he believed me but after boxing so well and having watched it back I think he knows now.

“I do have high hopes for him and he looked so good that I don’t believe he has lost any ground.”

The NSL-sponsored southpaw’s derby with Hepper, who challenged Fannan fighter Gary Fox for the Northern Area title in 2012, will be over six rounds, rather than the four-round sprint.

“I don’t really want Peter to box a four again,” said the trainer. “He’s a long-distance fighter.

“When Daniel drew [with Kevin McCauley] in his last bout it shows how risky a four rounder can be.”

Hepper, at 29, is four years Peter’s senior but he has only has 12 career bouts, winning eight and losing four.

Cope also has four defeats on his record but they are offset by 14 victories.

Tickets are on sale for the April 22 show, which will be promoted by Newcastle fight figure Steve Wraith. For tickets, contact Neil on 07891101399.