COOK TO BID BOXING GOODBYE

Maesteg’s Jason Cook (29-5-1, 15KO) will bid boxing goodbye when he has a final farewell fight in February. The former European and IBO champion will appear on Matchroom Sport’s show in Cardiff in what’s likely to be a defence of his Welsh light-welterweight title. He said, “I started letting people know it’s going to be my final fight this week and people have said if I win then I’ll want to fight again and have one more but I swear on my kids lives, this is my final time through the ropes as a fighter. “The interest has been unbelieavable, people getting in touch with me who watched me back in my first days are coming to watch my last fight. I’m hoping to sell atleast 400 tickets.” Although there is no opponent confirmed, it’s likely to be Chris Jenkins or Tony Pace, one thing that Cook is certain about is that the opponent will be of a decent standard and he has good reasoning for his decision. He said, “You know me, I don’t want to be fighting a journeyman. I remember Tony Oakey did it in his retirement fight, he fought a journeyman expecting to win. That’s not fair on the fans, as far as I’m concerned. They pay forty quid a ticket and for that, they should see a real fight. I’ve never wanted an easy fight. “I’d like to defend the Welsh title for the last ever time and I know if I fight Tony or Chris then it’ll be a war either way. If me and Tony Pace fought then I think it would be the Welsh version of Gatti versus Ward. If I fought Chris then I’d probably start as the underdog but I want to be in a real fight. That’s the way I come in to boxing and that’s the way I want to go out of boxing. I want a meaningful fight, not one that I’m expected to win.” Although Cook says he’s in love with the sport as much as he’s ever been, the strain of the ‘toughest sport in the world’ doesn’t allow his 38-year-old body to compete at top domestic championship class any more and it’s a harsh reality that he recognises. He said, “I’ll sacrifice Christmas. I go from now, I started yesterday with a four mile run and when I retire, this is what I’m not going to miss. I’m going to miss a lot of things about the game but as I’m getting older, it’s harder. If I fought three times a year with ten week camps, that’s thirty weeks a year. It’s a young man’s game and I work full time as well. It’s not easy. “When I became a pro, I would have been happy being a top five fighter in Britain, I exceeded that and at one point I was top five in the world. That was way beyond my expectations but I don’t want to go in the role of a journeyman, I know a lot of boxers who do it and I don’t see a buzz out of it. I’ve always wanted meaningful fights but I know I’m no longer at the level I want to be at and that’s the reason I’m going.” Cook enjoyed a stellar amateur career with real domestic and international success, which includes an ABA featherweight title in 1993 (which he states as his all-time career highlight) and a Commonwealth Games silver medal in 1994. However, what many remember the Welshman for was an against-all-odds away win in Italy against Sandro Casamonica for the European title. Cook was hurt heavily in the third round and as Casamonica moved in to finish the fight, Cook unleashed a left hook from hell and to everyone’s surprise, it sparked the Italian out. Recalling history, he said, “They said I had no chance of winning. It was 2002, I was 27 and hadn’t long come out of prison. I’d had three warm up fights, only ten days notice and he was WBO #2. To destroy him as I did, well… you don’t get many like that, do you? It’s probably one of the best wins abroad a British guy has ever had.” ‘The Power’ says his biggest disappointment is not winning the British title and he openly admits that at times he wasn’t always as committed as he should have been but Cook is grateful for all he has been given by the sport and he plans to put what he can back in to boxing. Fittingly closing the conversation, he said, “I’ve made so many friends from boxing. I travelled the world as an amateur and been to a couple of countries as a pro, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s never been about the money, I’ve just had a blast. 27 years and it’s over. “I’m going to stay in the sport. After my fight I’ll look towards my coaching badges, I want to give something back. I don’t know what club I’ll be affiliated with but I’m sure someone will have me. I don’t want to be someone who forgets where he comes from, I never have and I never will.” IMAGE BY CIARAN GIBBONS

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