Bugner is back with a flourish

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The Independent Online

Joe Bugner made an impressive return to the ring after an eight-year absence when he won the Australian heavyweight championship yesterday with a unanimous points decision against Vince Cervi in Brisbane.

After adding the title to the British, Commonwealth and European championships he had previously won in his 27-year professional career, the 45-year- old threw down a challenge to George Foreman: "I hope George will now seriously consider fighting me," he said.

"I was pleased with the way I went tonight," Bugner said. "I always felt comfortable. Few fighters have an answer to my jab."

Bugner used his left jab and right cross to good effect and held off a brief 10th-round rally from Cervi to win by scores of 119-109, 119-111 and 117-111.

It was his first fight since a brief four-fight comeback eight years ago, which ended when he was stopped in London by Frank Bruno, who he hopes to meet if he is unable to set up a bout with Foreman.

"Vince was a very tough and courageous fighter," Bugner said. "But I showed that someone who is in his 40s is not too old. I had to use my grey matter and not mix it with him."

Bugner, who twice during his career lasted the distance with Muhammad Ali and once with Joe Frazier, has been stopped only twice as a professional and was never troubled by Cervi's walk-up style.

"I have had well-publicised financial difficulties, but that is not the only reason for my comeback," he said. "I have also been inspired by what George Foreman has achieved at a similar age to mine. I wanted to prove something to the world by winning this title.

"I'm very proud of being Australian champion. It is something no one can take away from me. I don't think people realised how good I still am. They doubted me. But I never doubted myself."