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Boxing: Limond eager to come out of the shadows by winning British title

FOR seven years Willie Limond has been the nearly man of Scottish boxing.

Willie Limond has been inspired by Carl Froch's victory over George Groves   Photograph: SNS
Willie Limond has been inspired by Carl Froch's victory over George Groves Photograph: SNS

Scott Harrison, after his nine-fight reign as WBO featherweight champion, was left in ruins, before handing the torch of Scottish fight fame to Ricky Burns, who rose from journeyman to unlikely Emeritus status as a double world champion. But Limond has only flirted with greatness while taking on bigger names than either of his contemporaries.

There was the epic, eight-round defeat by Amir Khan in 2007, in which he became the first man to knock down the Olympic silver medallist and only denied a knockout victory by a controversial "long" count.

Then the meeting with Mexican all-time great Erik Morales in a bull ring in front of 56,000 in Mexico City that ended with Limond defeated in six rounds, more by altitude than the frantic fists of his opponent.

Shoehorn in two doomed attempts to win the British title he reveres and, at 35, the Glaswegian's best days in the ring seemed to be behind him.

But now, after being reunited with manager Alex Morrison and working under the flamboyant promotional auspices of British boxing's man-of-the moment Eddie Hearn, Limond has his shot at redemption. On Friday, at the Braehead Arena, ironically as chief support to Burns' ring return against Dejan Zlaticanin, he will meet Curtis Woodhouse for his British title while he puts his own Commonwealth light-welterweight belt on the line, with an autumn European title tilt on the horizon.

For Limond, the inspiration behind his latest attempt to prove himself a renaissance, rather than nearly man, comes from an unsurprising source.

"I have taken a lot of inspiration from what Carl Froch did against George Groves last month," he said. "Carl was 36 and coming off a pretty heavy mauling in the first fight, even though he won it by stoppage, but he proved that even into your mid-30s you can still produce the goods against the younger man.

"There was 10 years difference between Froch and Groves while with me and Curtis Woodhouse there are only two years and, no disrespect to Curtis, I have fought better fighters and been in bigger fights than he has. So experience is massive and I have had plenty of it from every angle and June 27 at Braehead is about drawing on all of that to finally win the British title."

The Scot admits his hopes of claiming the Lonsdale belt had disappeared.

"At 35, I probably reckoned the chance to fight for a British title had gone. I lost when I challenged Alex Arthur for the British super-featherweight title in 2003. Then I blew it when I met Anthony Crolla for the lightweight title back in 2011.

"When you have had two challenges and in neither one of them have you done yourself justice, it is a real sickener, especially if you think that will be it. So for me the British title has always been the title I wanted to get my hands on and to get this third opportunity by fighting Curtis Woodhouse, albeit with my Commonwealth light-welterweight title on the line, has been a huge bonus.

"Sure I've had some big fights and winning the Commonwealth title at two different weights balances the disappointments out. But the great thing for me is that now, even at 35, I have the chance to become British champion, defend my Commonwealth title and if I come through there is a real chance I will have a European title shot in Glasgow in September.

"When you see all of that put in front of you then motivation is no problem. I have the chance of an Indian summer that most fighters would give their right arm to have a shot at in the peak of their careers and I'm aiming to take it with everything I've got."

o Tickets available on 0141 554 7777, priced £40- £200.

Bert Mitchell

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