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Boxing: Magee takes final steps in amazing comeback

Less than a year ago, Eamonn Magee was told that his boxing career, like his left leg and right knee, was shattered. Surgeons advised him that he would never fight again after a street attack that threatened to cripple him for life.

But on Friday he will be back in the ring in his native Belfast, an astonishing comeback story which might well have been scripted for yet another Hollywood boxing blockbuster. For not only did Magee suffer a left leg broken in two places, but also life-threatening blood clots in his thigh and lungs. Rumours swept Belfast that it was a sectarian attack - Magee is a staunch Catholic - but these were discounted, and criminal charges followed.

It was another violent episode in the troubled life of one of the hardest men in British boxing, whose nom de guerre is The Terminator. Previously he had been shot twice and, as a teenager, came close to death when he was slashed in the throat by a broken bottle.

Magee, a southpaw, is the only fighter to have put Ricky Hatton on the canvas, with a first-round knockdown when he challenged unsuccessfully for the World Boxing Union light-welterweight title three years ago. Magee, now 33, went on to claim a WBU belt at welterweight, which he defends against the Dane Allan Vesper in the King's Hall, where the main event sees Joe Calzaghe making the 15th def-ence of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title crown against another fighting Irishman named Magee, the unrelated Brian.

Eamonn Magee underwent three operations and spent more than a month in hospital after the attack, but says: "I was determined that I was not going to let the person who did this announce my retirement. I swore I would get back in the ring again because boxing is my business, my life. I've got a mortgage to pay."