HOPE’S CAREER “HANGING BY A THREAD”

Merthyr Tydfil’s middleweight Kerry Hope (19-6, 1KO) has admitted to BoxingWales that he knows his career is hanging by a thread. The popular southpaw returns to the ring on the undercard of Matchroom Sport’s Reloaded show at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on February 1st live on Sky Sports and it will be the first time he’s fought since a disappointing Unanimous Decision loss to Belfast’s Eamon O’Kane in October’s IBF Inter-Continental title fight. Speaking of is future in boxing, Hope said, “I want to get back in the title mix but I’ve got to be realistic, my career is hanging by a thread. If I won the fight against O’Kane it would have got me a world ranking with the IBF and got me on to better things but now I’m starting fresh from scratch.” Hope’s next fight will be at the scene of his first loss as a professional, a stoppage defeat to Matthew Hall six years ago, but the 32-year-old is hungry to return to meaningful fights like his European title win against Gregorz Proska in 2012. Recognising that he won’t get any easy fights to build up to that level, Hope wants a test in his next fight but is so far without an opponent for his first fight in Wales for nearly three years. He said, “We tried to make the rematch (with O’Kane), I asked for it but nothing come of it. I don’t know why, I don’t know the reason being. After the fight, he said to me, ‘I thought you won it’ and it’s gentlemanly sportsmanship of him to say that. “I was then matched against (Welsh champion) Frankie Borg but he has a back injury I think. So, I’ve not got an opponent right now but we’re looking to hear back this week. “I don’t want someone who’s going to come in and cover up, I want someone who’s going to try and give me a workout and a test because this year is crucial to me, I need to get back in the title mix.” Hope has now relinked up with Bolton based trainer Karl Ince, the man who guided him to European title glory and he wants to put 2013’s problems behind him and rekindle their previous performances. “I had a lot of inactivity last year because I had a bit of a back injury and a few family passings, so maybe I shouldn’t have been in the ring last year. It was disappointing but hopefully it’s all behind me and this year is different. “It (the back injury) has been alright. I’ve had one or two problems in camp but it feels alright. I regret fighting with it because I didn’t really show what I can do. I believe I’m the better fighter but in the O’Kane I’m pretty ashamed of the way I boxed, it looked as if I didn’t want to be in there and I should never have lost. “I looked tired around the eighth round and it’s not like to me to look tired in a fight. It goes to show the issues I had. Looking at things now, if I was the fighter I was when I won the European title against O’Kane, does anyone see him beating me then? I don’t, I think I would have stopped him.” Tickets for ‘Reloaded’ Selby v Munroe are on sale now priced at £30, £40, £60 ringside and £120 VIP are available from livenation.co.uk or by calling 02920 22 44 88.

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