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Returning Anthony Nelson claims Jamie Conlan didn’t want a rematch of their Fight of the Year

Anthony Nelson [11(2)-1(1)] is back.

The English super flyweight has been out of the ring for almost two years following his epic up-and-down loss to Ireland’s Jamie Conlan in London back in April 2016.

A rematch had been proposed by boxing fans ever but it never materialised – something which Nelson feels was down to Team Conlan.

The clash, which was named the BBBoC Fight of the Year, saw Belfast’s Conlan take Nelson’s Commonwealth title and he would progress with his career, eventually challenging IBF world champion Jerwin Ancajas in November just gone.

Nelson, of South Shields near Newcastle, on the other hand, did not fight again – although not through lack of trying.

The 32-year-old finally makes his return on April 28th at the Temple Park Leisure Centre following a tough period and is looking to get going once again.

Financial constraints are what have kept Nelson at bay – indeed, these were a lingering issue ahead of the Conlan fight itself.

Speaking last night on the Boxing Asylum Podcast, ‘Babyface’ explained that “what happened was, I was meant to fight on a Matchroom show [in 2015]. Bradley Saunders was signed with Matchroom and, when I won the Commonwealth title, Bradley Saunders was meant to be headlining that show but he injured his hand. That’s why we ended up filling the top of the bill slot.”

“Eddie Hearn was meant to be putting on another big show up here for him when his hand was better but… before the show he got disqualified for headbutting [v Renald Garrido]. Then Hearn obviously sacked that off, got rid of him, and it had a knock-on effect for me.”

“It was right on Christmas, I’ve got a family, a mortgage, three kids. I didn’t fight and I had no money coming in, so I got full of debt just to provide a Christmas for my kids. When the Conlan fight came round, I got paid and I paid all my debts off and that was it.”

“I wasn’t left with a penny in the bank so I had to go back to work. It meant I couldn’t get to the gym, I couldn’t train, I had depression for three or four months, I was at rock bottom because all I wanted was to be in the gym, training, fighting and I just couldn’t. I was thinking ‘this is it, my career is finished’ – not because I didn’t want to, not because I was downhearted from the fight, but because I wasn’t in a position to do so.”

Nelson has no issues with the result that famous night at the Copper Box, crediting Conlan and his team for adjusting and getting the eighth round stoppage win.

However, he revealed that he and his team pushed for a rematch but this desire wasn’t reciprocated.

Nelson described how “to be honest, we wanted the rematch but we hadn’t got any big promotion behind us, we hadn’t got MTK, we hadn’t got Frank Warren and BoxNation, we hadn’t got Eddie Hearn and Sky Sports. We had the Commonwealth title and that’s all they wanted, without that we were like sitting ducks.”

“Obviously, after that fight, it was a dangerous fight for him – he didn’t want to take the rematch. It was a little bit too much of a risk.”

“Had the decision gone the other way and we had of walked away with the title, I think they would have had the rematch on more or less instantly. That’s just what happens though when they’ve got the pull and the money behind them and the promotion.”

“Unfortunately, that’s the way it happens, we’re just a little fish in a big pond.”

31-year-old Conlan, who recently became a father for the first time, has confirmed that he will fight on following his sixth-round loss to Ancajas at the SSE Odyssey Arena.

Whether it will be a case of a swansong or a renewed quest for big titles is currently unknown.

While there was talk that he could come in as an opponent for former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez’s comeback, ‘The Mexican’ is expected to return to the ring this Summer – perhaps on his younger brother Mick’s homecoming card.

Could a repeat war with Nelson now be on the cards?

Listen to the latest episode of The Boxing Asylum below:

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie