Slumped backstage at the BB King Blues Club in midtown Manhattan, New York, boxer Craig McEwan resembled a little lost boy rather than the fighter that once convinced Golden Boy Promotions he was destined to become Scotland’s next world champion.
A unanimous defeat to American ‘journeyman’ fighter Dashon Johnson last Wednesday in the Big Apple was not in the script after being signed by ring legend and promoter Oscar De La Hoya in 2006 and relocating to Los Angeles, where he hoped to realise his dream of becoming one of middleweight’s top stars.
However, fast forward almost seven years and the former Clovenstone amateur admits he is unsure where his future lies within the ring – if it even does.
Having returned to the Capital from California at the beginning of last year, the 31-year-old’s boxing pedigree has taken a nose dive with just one win from his last four fights. And last week’s latest setback appeared to be the final straw for a figure who has graced some of the finest international boxing canvases during his peak, McEwan indicating via various social media networking sites that he was all set to call it quits – a statement he has since retracted.
Despite signing a four-fight deal with US promoter Lou DiBella in April this year, he disclosed he has been operating without a manager and has even found training partners hard to come by.
“I sat down after the defeat last week and thought if I am not getting opportunities and am just taking fights for the sake of it, then I may as well just jack it in,” McEwan said in an exclusive interview with the Evening News. “I came home from New York and sat down with my wife (Sally) and said to her ‘I think it’s time to retire’.
“I took my friend over with me because boxing is the loneliest place in the world and it’s even worse when you’ve got nobody.
“Sitting in the dressing-room at the BB King Club, I thought to myself, ‘what am I doing?’ I was so nervous having not been in the ring for a while and everything all came back to me – it was an emotional rollercoaster.
“I was thinking they’re going to look after me over there, get a fight and a win before Christmas and hit next year in full flow. But I wasn’t looked after at all. We were in New York for a few days before anyone even bothered to get in touch.
“I could feel during the fight that I wasn’t as sharp as I should be, due to the lack of sparring and not being really prepared. The fight was a farce.
“I’ve been inactive for such a long time. I’ve had trainers come in and out because they’re spending their time with me, but they aren’t getting paid. It’s very frustrating as I’ve got a good reputation, so I need to work on that.
“He’s (DiBella) kind of shrugged his shoulders and said I can get fights at home in the UK. I hardly see him and he leaves it to his advisors, so he just passes the buck I suppose. He hasn’t given me a straight answer of my next move, so I’m back to square one.”
The overwhelming support for McEwan not to hang up his gloves was perhaps just the reassurance that he needed to restore faith in his own ability.
He accepts his career is a far cry from what it was, but appears to have rediscovered the inner strength to undertake one of the toughest bouts he’s ever likely to face.
He added: “After putting up that I was going to retire, I’ve had so much support saying for me not to quit – so I’m not going to.
“I’m going to speak to (promoter) Alex Morrison in January, but I don’t want any big fights, just six rounds or something and then look for something bigger after that – so I’m starting all over again.”
2006: Signed by Golden Boy Promotions as a professional and moves to Los Angeles in the US.
March 2011: Remains undefeated for almost five years, winning his first 19 professional bouts before losing to Ireland’s Andy Lee in Connecticut.
September 2011: Loses second bout in eight months, this time to America’s Peter Quillin after being knocked-out in the sixth round in Cancun, Mexico.
Early 2012: Returns home from America after Golden Boy Promotions choose not to renew his contract.
November 2012: Loses Prizefighter quarter-final in London’s York Hall to eventual winner, Larry Ekundayo.
April 2013: Signs four-fight deal with New York based promoter, Lou DiBella.
December 2013: Loses to American Dashon Johnson in New York and considers future before announcing he intends to fight on.