Boxing: Nelson returns to tough challenge

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The Independent Online

It has been 12 months since Johnny Nelson fought and most of that time has been spent under police protective custody after a kidnap attempt earlier this year. The investigation, which led to armed police staking out his residence in Sheffield, is coming to an end and arrests are imminent.

Nelson, 36, turned his back on boxing to spend more time with his wife and family, but three months ago the investigation slowed down and he returned to the gym.

Tonight he defends his World Boxing Organisation cruiserweight title for the 11th time against the unbeaten Alex Petkovic in Bayreuth, Germany, in what is arguably his hardest fight for many years.

Petkovic, 23, will have home advantage against Nelson, who will undoubtedly suffer from taking so long out. However, the champion is confident that his age and experience will be a help and not a hindrance, and expects to win on points.

Marco Antonio Barrera fights for the first time since the news emerged that he had an operation to remove a small group of blood vessels in his head and had protective implants inserted in 1997. He has fought 16 times sincethen and tonight fights Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, in a 12-round non-title fight in the featherweight division that is really a true world title fight.