Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

One last chance at the big time with Lindsay

Martin Lindsay

A cloud of unfulfilled potential hangs over Martin Lindsay as he approaches Saturday night at the Odyssey Arena for a golden opportunity to turn his career around.

From the age of 12, Lindsay was being talked about as a special talent and it was generally felt that the professional business would suit him more than the amateur game.

But despite winning a British title, it has been a long, circuitous route to this point with too many dead ends along the way.

His career is brought into focus when you consider where Odyssey main event man Carl Frampton is after three years with manager Barry McGuigan — Lindsay has been a professional since 2004 with only 20 fights on his record and now faces British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Lee Selby in a make or break battle.

An accomplished counter-puncher who carries power as well, Lindsay was involved in one of the most exciting fights Belfast has seen in recent years when lifting the British featherweight title with a rip-roaring stoppage of then unbeaten Paul Appleby.

Appleby has never been the same. But Lindsay dropped a decision to John Simpson at the King's Hall in 2010 which set him back greatly as he had been on the cusp of a European title. Not only did he feel personal pain but also a sense of shame for having let down those passionate fans who will make themselves heard at the Odyssey.

Lindsay (30) learned his trade with long-time coach Nugget Nugent at the Immaculata club in the lower Falls, making his way to the gym just a few doors down from his home, and he has always felt the backing of a community in his quest for glory.

He will need it come Saturday night when he steps up to meet 25-year-old Selby who is on a run of four stoppages — including Simpson, Stephen Smith and Patrick OKine.

“People see me as the underdog, I understand that because they see that Selby has been doing so well and of course because he beat Simpson and Simpson has beaten me,” admits Lindsay with a shrug of the shoulders.

“People are probably judging me on the Simpson fight but that wasn't the real me. I made mistakes that night and it took me a while to get over it. Even when I went back to the King’s Hall to box earlier this year I was a bit nervous because I had lost there and I felt that I had let my fans down.

“I’ve always had great support and I have almost sold all of the tickets I was given to sell for this fight. It’s a big fight, a crucial fight for me, and I feel I owe the fans. I want to give them a special night.

“Opportunities like this don’t come around too often and to get it at home in front of the Belfast supporters at the Odyssey is just fantastic.

“Of course I thought I would have been further on in my career. But I have this chance to get myself back in line for a European title and to get back in the world rankings and I will be leaving everything in the ring.”

The fight has a similar feel to that night in the Ulster Hall, the highlight of his career, when he overwhelmed rising star Appleby. Now it's Selby who is the number one contender for the European belt and on a roll.

“Selby is a slippery customer and a quick puncher,” Lindsay acknowledges. “He will come into the fight with a lot of confidence, but I know that I can box if I want to or I can fight.

“If I win then I am back to where I want to be, it opens the door to bigger fights.”

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