THIS may shock people, but the finest night of my career came against Mark Potter. Jim McDonnell and I were training really hard and I was in great shape and then, a week before the fight, I got the ’flu. I was in bed, didn’t do any training and everyone was telling me to pull out but I couldn’t allow myself to. I was so determined to win the British title. I knew of Potter – who had come in as a substitute for Mike Holden – and I didn’t think much of him. I thought all I had to do was go out there and blow him away, which is another reason why I didn’t want to pull out.
Things changed a bit at the weigh-in; we were pushing and shoving and I could see he was really fired up for it. He was irritable and angry and that’s when I said, ‘This guy is coming to rumble.’ He wasn’t intimidated by me at all and he wanted to fight there and then.
I was dropped really early in the first round because he came out like a maniac, but thankfully, the referee counted it as a slip because of the way I jumped back up – it was a knockdown, though!
I managed to drop him in the second but that wasn’t really a knockdown! I threw a right, I didn’t really hit him and he slipped and the referee gave him a count. It was at that point that my luck ran out because that’s when my right shoulder dislocated for the first time.
When I walked back to the corner it seemed to go back into position. But it came back out again in the next round and at that point everybody could see it. Frank Warren was shouting at Jimmy to throw in the towel. Jimmy told me after that he had the towel and was going to throw it to please Frank but he noticed I was actually boxing better with one arm than two!
At no point did I think of pulling out. People don’t understand that it was what I had always dreamed of – to be that fighter who can lay it all on the line, who can come back from the brink of losing and win.
I had always wanted to be a warrior and that was my chance. I just thank God I was given the opportunity to do something that nobody else has. Nobody, from the days of John L. Sullivan, has won a fight by stoppage like that with a dislocated shoulder.
The only way I coped with the pain was a determination to win and with God giving me the strength to do it, it all seemed to override the pain. But I knew the fight wasn’t going my way.
I’d had points deducted and, to be honest, I hadn’t felt like I’d won a round other than the second because the referee gave me the knockdown.
I thought he must have been way ahead on points, so I felt I had to knock him out. Then my right shoulder popped out again.
When it happened again in the sixth round, my mind changed and I started to box. If you look at the fight at that point I suddenly start to look better just using my left. My mind switched from slugging to boxing because I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be able to knock him out with just one arm’, particularly when all my power had always come from the straight right.
So, the knockout was out of the window in my mind when it came. The opportunity to stop him with my left uppercut came from nowhere and I couldn’t believe it.
When I was leaving the arena I could see the reactions on people’s faces and I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve done something really special’.
When you’re in there you don’t really think of it, but seeing the shocked and amazed faces you start to realise. The papers were all saying it was like something out of a Rocky film, but if it happened in Rocky, you’d say the story was ridiculous!