Blackpool boxer Jeff Thomas is to make a remarkable comeback after seven years in the wilderness.
The 37-year-old is going through the process of regaining his licence and, if approved, will look to fight again in November.
Thomas’ last bout came in 2012, when he beat Andrew Patterson on points at the Winter Gardens.
He won 11 of his 21 fights as a professional and took on three-time world champion Ricky Burns.
Explaining his surprise comeback, Thomas told The Gazette: “When I finished I was quite happy to do so and turn my attention more to coaching.
“I’ve been doing that for the last few years, coaching teams including Fleetwood ABC and then I had my own club.
“I also coach Dan Catlin, the unbeaten Fleetwood boxer who is 4-0, and Alex McCloy, who is unbeaten as well in 14 fights.
“When boxers stop fighting they literally stop, but I found myself still being in and around it, and I was still training and sparring.
“Something clicked around Christmas time. I can’t explain it but sportsmen have a fire inside them at certain times, and just a few things happened which made me want to direct my energy into something positive.
“Boxing was just there, so I decided I was going to fight again, although at first the plan wasn’t to go back as a professional.
“I asked for a match on one of EBF Boxing’s unlicensed shows and for a good opponent, and they gave me another ex-professional who was quite a decent pro.
“I was only doing it because it was something to train for but I ended up performing really well and knocked him out. That was a really good win because the guy very rarely got stopped.
“He had a draw with a Southern Area fighter as a pro and was a decent boxer.
“He knew how to move around the ring but it was a good stoppage win regardless of the fact I hadn’t fought for seven years.
“Then I did more and more sparring with the lads, and I found I was performing at a fairly good level without putting all my time and effort into it by training properly.
“So I decided to have one more to see how I feel and I boxed another ex-pro, who is the British Bare-Knuckle champion. I stopped him as well, knocking him out in the third round with a body shot.
“If it was a young lad getting these results, then I’d be telling them they would be going places and to try and do something with it.”
Thomas, who trains at the BR Boxing Gym in Blackpool, never realised his dream of winning a professional title – and that’s something he wants to address.
He added: “I think the rest has actually been a good thing for me and has freshened my approach to the sport.
“I know I’m performing to a good standard, so it feels like the right thing to go back to the pros rather than just boxing on the unlicensed circuits.
“My goal is to win the Central Area title at welterweight, which has always been my aim since first turning pro at the age of 19.
“I still believe I’m capable of doing that and that’s what I’ll try to do before I finish in the next couple of years.
“I want to win a professional title because I was never able to do that. I’m not doing this for a laugh – I’m doing it because I can still compete at that level. I’ve done it in the gym and I feel good.
“I’m going to give it my best shot and see how it goes.”
Thomas would like to give his thanks to sponsor David Oakes from Highfield Tanning, who has covered all of his costs.