Boxing: Travails of Winter now in the past

MARK WINTERS faces a battle of the mind in the first defence of his British light welterweight title against the Londoner, Bernard Paul, in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, tonight.

The Ulsterman returns to the ring following the unhappy circumstances surrounding his title victory in October at the Sheffield Arena when his opponent, Carl Wright, subsequently fell into a coma, requiring neuro surgery to remove a blood clot.

Wright has made a remarkable recovery following his fight for life and is backing the champion's quest to make the Lonsdale belt his own.

The unbeaten Winters, a part-time travel agent in Antrim, spent time with the Liverpudlian and his family leading up to his first defence.

"I spent a week in Liverpool sparring with the WBU [World Boxing Union] champion Shea Neary and Andy Holligan and spent a lot of time with Carl," Winters said. "He has told me to go on and win the Lonsdale belt and I am dedicating this fight to him.

"It was the greatest moment of my career so far to win the British title and the next day it was the worst moment when I heard about Carl.

"I considered quitting the ring and my career was on hold until I knew that Carl had recovered. Everybody asks me how I will react once I get in the ring and I simply won't know until I get in there."

One thing the 26-year-old is certain about is victory over Paul, although the former Commonwealth champion has predicted that he will knock him out "in the later rounds".

Winters retorted: "There is no chance that I will lose my title to Bernard. He says he is a hard puncher but I've been sparring with Shea Neary and Bernard doesn't hit harder than him."

Paul, from Tottenham, is arguably having his last attempt at lifting a major title at the age of 32, having lost the Commonwealth belt to Paul Burke in August. That followed a controversial points win at Bethnal Green in April over Felix Bwalya, who subsequently died three days after defeating Burke at the end of last year.

The Commonwealth title is now vacant and Burke has been nominated to fight for the belt, with Ghana's Judas Clottey expected to be the opponent.

Paul would like a re-match with Burke but has focused on toppling Winters, who will be making his first appearance at home following 12 straight wins.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth cruiserweight champion, Darren Corbett, faces the Belgian Dirk Wallyn in a 10-round non-title fight. Wallyn was last seen in a British ring losing in 90 seconds to the former European champion Johnny Nelson and Corbett is expected to deliver a similar result before his world title bout with the World Boxing Organisation champion, Carl Thompson.

"I can't take any chances because my title fight with Thompson would be gone if I lost," said Corbett. "The fight with Thompson is expected to happen on 18 or 25 April."

The unbeaten Brixton heavyweight Danny Williams should chalk up his 13th straight victory inside the distance when he faces Tim Ray from Kentucky.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Pre School Practitioner

£6 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, they are loo...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development & Relationship Manager

£45000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development & Relati...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant - Startup

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Personal Assistant is require...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral