Edinburgh boxer John Thain believes he wouldn’t be 12 rounds away from becoming British champion had he not endured back-to-back defeats in 2014.
The MGM fighter will be crowned the new British welterweight champion if he can overcome current holder of the Lonsdale Belt, Bradley Skeete, at the Brentwood Centre in Essex tomorrow night.
However, the 29-year-old admitted it’s a prospect he felt was slipping away from him having lost to both Ronnie Heffron and Kris Carswell two years ago – a setback that turned his life upside down so much that he even contemplated turning his back on the sport for good.
Having breezed through his first 11 fights as a professional boxing at light middleweight, he suddenly found himself having to contend with two losses being etched across his record.
But a revitalised Thain sought a change in direction, cutting ties with former manager Frank Warren to sign a three-year contact with Marbella-based promoter MGM earlier this year. He also switched weight divisions has since reeled off five consecutive wins that has propelled him up the welterweight rankings and taken him to within 12 rounds of becoming the first Edinburgh boxer to win a British title since Alex Arthur defended his British super featherweight title against compatriot Ricky Burns ten years ago.
“I did have those couple of losses on the trot and I was quite unhappy with boxing if the truth be told,” said Thain, who is eyeing his 17th win tomorrow night. “Although I was training very hard I still wasn’t a happy fighter. It was hard to see anything positive because I didn’t know if I was going to keep boxing. I just needed time away from the sport and to start missing it.
“So if I’d won those two fights I’d probably still be at light middleweight and trying to win titles in that division.
“A year ago I hadn’t really had any fights at welterweight so I really feel these past 12 months or so have been like a new beginning. There were times when things weren’t going well so this would just be the perfect way to make up for all of that. I enjoy being a boxer again, I love the sport and I love being part of a great team. I’m very lucky with what I’ve got and I feel like the old John is back.”
Thain, pictured, was forthcoming in his appreciation for Lochend coach Terry McCormack who he says has played an instrumental role in getting him back to his very best.
“Terry said to me after the defeats that now was the time to try something new,” he explained. “Sometimes you need a bad day or experience to make you see that better things are ahead. The team at Lochend never gave up on me and they were the ones that suggested that I signed for MGM so you can always turn things around.
“To finish the year off in style would be just be amazing. This fight isn’t just for myself, it’s been a journey that the club has been on and something Terry and I have been working towards since we first started working together all those years ago.”
Englishman Skeete, who is just two weeks Thain’s senior, is certainly no pushover with the Londoner having won 24 of his 25 pro bouts.
“We’ve tried to keep everything pretty much the same,” Thain said. “It feels fantastic that it’s finally here but you can’t lose your focus. We’ve had a good look at him so we feel ready for whatever he brings. He’s a good boxer and does most things well. But it’s about believing in yourself no matter who you are boxing against.
“This would be a huge milestone to win my first title. It’s not the easiest way to do it, I’m the away fighter and the underdog but I’m absolutely fine with that. Boxing in Edinburgh is really on the rise so it’s a great time to be involved. There’s a real difference now, even from a couple of years ago and there’s definitely a lot more to come.”
• Edinburgh boxer Stephen Simmons has been forced to pull out of the MGM Scotland show in Paisley on December 3 as he recovers from a rib injury.