Docherty's penance ends

Drew Docherty lost his challenge for a world title on Saturday but James Reed believes he is winning his fight for peace of mind
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The Independent Online
On Friday night Drew Docherty was relaxing in a Nottingham hotel when he received a phone call from his father, Archie.

Docherty expected it to be just the usual short call to find out how he was feeling about his World Boxing Organisation bantamweight title fight against Daniel Jiminez the following night, Saturday.

What Docherty's father Archie told him was a complete surprise: "Wee Jimmy's parents have just been round to wish you luck Drew,'' Mr Docherty said.

Last October Docherty beat Jim Murray in a British title defence. Twenty- four hours later, Murray died. Docherty admits he thinks of the dead boxer all the time and the pressure was not getting any easier.

The news on Friday night was the best he could possibly hear. ''The pressure I felt lifted when I heard they had visited my parents,'' Docherty said.

''We were just sitting at home, my wife Maureen and me, and the doorbell went. We had never met Murray's parents before but obviously we knew what they looked like. It was very emotional,'' confirmed Drew's father.

On Saturday night Docherty was outpointed by Jiminez but, at times, the 30-year-old Scot looked tremendous and made Jiminez, who is a very good champion, look ordinary. After the fight the Puerto Rican admitted he had underestimated Docherty's determination.

The fight changed from round to round and a set pattern was never established. It is credit to Docherty's persistence that the fight remained competitive because, after just four rounds, he was trailing heavily and Jiminez was starting to enjoy himself.

''I saw him [Docherty] fight that other boy [Murray] and it was a very hard fight but looking at him [Docherty] I believed I would beat him easy,'' Jiminez said.

When the final bell sounded, Docherty's manager, Tommy Gilmour, who looked incredibly relieved, thought his boy might have just done enough. The judges pushed sympathy aside and voted heavily for Jiminez. After the fight, during the tearful reunion in Docherty's changing-room, there was little coherent conversation, just tearful mumblings and praise from everybody who stepped in to touch Docherty's shoulder and tell him he was magnificent. ''A lot of British boxers have won world titles and done less than Drew did. They have certainly won titles and experienced less than Drew,'' Gilmour said.

After Docherty had left to a standing ovation, one of British boxing's most talented but unpredictable fighters strolled purposefully in the ring's direction. Johnny Nelson is one of boxing's great eccentrics and, at times, is superb to watch. Twice in crucial world title fights he has performed so negatively he is now an outcast on the domestic scene, forced to become an international boxing mercenary.

On Saturday, Nelson weighing an impressive 13st 71/2lb, stopped Tony Booth from Hull after three knockdowns in round two. Nelson's last five fights have been in Australia, Thailand and Brazil, but he is determined to confirm his promise and aims to box in Britain. He has always lived in Sheffield, but attempts in the last three years to sway a British promoter to use him had been useless until now.

On Saturday night in Mansfield the crowd reacted splendidly to Docherty's efforts and enjoyed Nelson's return to the ring where he once defended his World Boxing Federation title - one of the less impressive world championships - in one round. Both boxers claimed it was good to be back.

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