FORMER England lightweight champion Danny Hunt is set to return to the boxing ring after a seven-year hiatus.
The Leigh pugilist, 32, took a break from the sport after losing to Mounir Guebbas in May 2006.
But he will pull on his gloves again to fight at an unlicensed show in Southend in March.
“I needed a breather from boxing after 20 pro fights because I wanted to enjoy life a bit,” said Hunt, who claimed the English crown in 2003.
“I had been dedicated to boxing since I was a teenager and felt it was time for a break.
“I still trained in the gym but now I’ve got my hunger and love for the sport back again and want to get back into the ring.”
Hunt has teamed up with Basildon promoter Sam Stokes for the show at Southend’s Legends nightclub on Saturday, March 15, under the Independent Boxing Union banner.
The pair are putting together a card featuring semi-pro fighters from around south Essex, with Hunt’s six-round welterweight fight with Sheffield’s Daniel Thorpe topping the bill.
Hunt beat Thorpe on points in March 2003 when they were professionals and is looking forward to facing him again, adding that the Yorkshire fighter had mixed it against the likes of Amir Khan in his career.
The Essex fighter has been doing six days of training a week for the past three and a half months, with double sessions four times a week.
“With seven weeks to go I feel good and it’s just a case of putting the final touches together,” added Hunt, who fought as an amateur with the famous Repton Boys Club in Bethnal Green.
“It’s been a bit like starting all over again and I was ring-rusty.
“I boxed professionally between the ages of 18 and 25 and my body had not fully matured. I feel stronger now at 32.
“This is a new chapter for me and it’s going to be nerve-wracking fighting again, but I have had great support.
“When I was partying I went up from 9st 9lb to 13 stone and people called me Danny Fatton, a pun on Ricky Hatton. I’m down to 10.5 stone now and am feeling good.”
Hunt’s former trainer Alan Smith has let him train in his gym, with the Leigh fighter also working with strength and conditioning coach Matt Little and doing pad work with Vic O’Dame at the Evolution Gym in London Road, Leigh.
But the ex Belfairs School pupil has not decided what he will do once his comeback fight is over.
“I might get a buzz out of it and want to push on or I might think ‘that’s a bit hard’ and step down again,” he added.
“But I’m hoping to get a win, enjoy the fight and use it as a platform for future things.”
Hunt had a professional career spanning 20 fights which started with a points victory over Chris Lyons at Wembley Arena in November 1999.
He won the vacant English lightweight crown with a points win over Chill John in 2003 and defended his title twice.
The technical knockout defeat to Guebbas was only one of two Hunt suffered and came after referee Ken Curtis stopped the bout due to cuts above his eyes.
They had been a problem in the latter stages of his career but Hunt is confident his old war wounds will not be a problem against Thorpe.
Tickets are available for the show at Legends Nightclub, in Elmer Appraoch, Southend, and are priced at £30.
You can book by calling Danny Hunt on 07824 439487 or Sam Stokes on 07908 862769.