PZ: You’ve just turned 38 years old and have been retired for just over five years. What’s made you want to jump back into the pro game again?
SP: After the (Steve) Collins fight a few months ago, it brought back memories of training, gym camaraderie and just how much I enjoyed being involved in the sport again.
I then decided I wanted to turn pro and Mike Gibbons helped facilitate the first steps. I knew that if I wanted to turn pro again, it had to be this side of 40 years old and I just didn’t want to be looking over my shoulder in resentment at any moment in time.
I’ve also been inspired by Paul Ingle. A long time friend and world champion who I’ve sparred hundreds of rounds with since the 1990’s. Paul’s been the very best out there and has had to deal with a comeback trail tougher than most could ever deal with. Seeing him bouncing back now, with enthusiasm and drive, against great challenges is beyond motivational.
PZ: Tell us about the process of getting your pro licence again.
SP: It’s been a journey to be fair. I had to answer a barrage of questions from the Central Area Board, which was understandable as they have a number of concerns when a fighter decides to make a comeback.
They wanted to know what my ambition and motivation was to box again, especially at this time of my life, when it’s predominantly a young man’s business.
They put me through my paces and thought I was in pretty good shape and a few weeks later my licence was granted.
PZ: Do you know who you are fighting on the 20th December?
SP: His name is Danny Brown from London. We’ll be fighting for a Masters title, which was another motivation as I’d never won a belt first time round. Hopefully I can bring it back home!
PZ: Tell me about the team around you.
SP: Mike Gibbons and Steve Wood promote and manage me, and have been great throughout my comeback.
I need to give a special thanks to Aran Peterson from Classical Gas Ltd, who is my sponsor and has been a major reason I’ve been able to jump back in the ring. Last and by no means least, I’d like to thank Marc Woodcock from Injury Room, Hull, for all his help in the run up to the fight.
PZ: How’s the training camp been going?
SP: I’ve been training for about six weeks for this weeks. I’ve had a couple of small injuries, but I’m feeling fit and strong for this fight.
PZ: How important will it be to have the knowledge and wisdom of former world champ Paul Ingle in your corner, come fight night?
SP: To have Paul there is the icing on the cake. Hopefully it will be a successful evening for us. He’s a great inspiration to me.
Having him there by the ring apron and giving me advice in the changing room, will be like the old times.
PZ: Tell us a bit more about where you have been training.
SP: Training has been pretty much at The Paul Ingle Boxing where I also teach. The people who come to the gym have been very supportive and it’s been a real motivation to do well for them also.
PZ: Any predictions for the fight?
SP: No predictions. I’m prepared for whichever way the fight goes. The main thing is that I bring home that belt.
My mates would love to see me in a tear up though!
PZ: Tell the readers one thing about yourself which not many people know.
SP: I have a nickname of Shandy Sonny due to not being able to take more than a couple of pints before being drunk!
PZ: If you could spar three rounds with any past boxing legend, who would it be?
SP: Mohamed Ali.
PHOTO CREDITS – Hull Daily Mail, with full copyright