Belfast Telegraph

Irish boxer Steve Collins announces return to ring after 15 years

Just 18 months short of his 50th birthday, Steve Collins has announced he is coming out of retirement to fight a man once considered the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet.

Yet, last night there was no confirmation of any impending Collins fight on Jones's official website and, without a promoter, date or venue either, scepticism is sure to flood any debate on a contest.

The Dubliner, a former world middle and super-middleweight champion, has not boxed in more than 15 years. And while Jones, who celebrates his 44th birthday today, is still in competition, he has become a pale shadow of the man who claimed world titles in the light-middle, middle, super-middle, light-heavy and heavy weight divisions.

While he has (technically) won his last two contests, the American lost his previous three and has been beaten in roughly half of his fights since suffering a brutal second-round knockout in a light-heavyweight title re-match against Antonio Tarver in Las Vegas nine years ago.

His most recent bout was in Poland last June against Pawel Glazewski, an unheralded local opponent who took the fight at a week's notice, and a dubious split decision in Jones's favour drew loud jeers in the hall.

Collins, who made his announcement on Talksport radio in the UK yesterday, won his last 15 contests before being stripped of his WBO super-middleweight crown after withdrawing from a defence against Welshman, Joe Calzaghe, in 1997.

He announced his retirement afterwards, but returned two years later only to collapse while sparring in preparation for a fight with Calzaghe. While subsequent brain scans gave the all clear, Collins indicated that nothing other than a fight with Jones would entice him back into the ring.

Collins said yesterday that he had wanted to fight Jones Jr during the 90s, when both men held world titles, but felt that the American was afraid of him. Now he believes that, once a promoter is secured and all medical tests are passed, the fight should go ahead.

"It's a fight Roy Jones needs," he said. "He claims to be one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters around, but he refused to fight me. I was very happy with my career, but the one fight I wanted was Roy Jones, and when that didn't happen I retired.

"To me, he was afraid of me. I don't think he's a coward, but at the time he was. But now it's happening. I spoke to Roy and we're going to get it on. He wants one more fight before he retires and this is the one he wants. If we get a good offer, we'll split it down the middle."

While there has been no formal confirmation from the Jones camp yet, the American did indicate last December -- in response to Collins's taunts -- that he was interested in such a fight.

"To say I am a coward, you have got to be crazy," said Jones at the time. "I ain't never saying no to fighting him (Collins). I never ran from nobody, we can get it on right now. In the right situation, I'd come to Ireland or the UK."

The Dubliner said he would like between 10 and 12 weeks to get ready.

"I feel like I've never been away. I'm looking forward to it," he said.

"This is still a match. We're the same generation. I wouldn't even consider fighting a guy 15 or 20 years younger than me, because that's not a match. But we're the same age and this is a fair match. It won't be any different to how it would have been 15 years ago".

He insisted however that he will not gamble with his health, if medical tests next week don't clear him "100pc".

He said that, if the fight goes ahead, he will be trained by his brother, Paschal, himself a former boxer.

Ireland head coach Billy Walsh has advised Collins to stay out of the ring.

"Steve is a year younger than me and my advice is that he should stay retired, said Walsh.

Belfast Telegraph


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