Comeback king Shayne Singleton reigns supreme on ring return

It didn't go exactly to plan — but comeback king Shayne Singleton will be the first to tell you that he barely ever sticks to the script.

By Dan Black
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 12:05 pm

The self-proclaimed 'entertainer' returned to the ring after a four-and-a-half-year exodus on Friday at the AJ Bell Stadium, home of Salford Red Devils.

Walking out to "Make Me Feel Good", by Belters Only featuring Jazzy, and the cacophonous cheers of hundreds of faithful fans that had supported the ex-English champion prior to his resurrection, the memories and emotions of a bygone era came flooding back.

Not many expected this day to come, but here we are, with coach Karl Ince in tow, and an unpredictable journey ahead. Singleton's attire might have changed, former journeyman Curtis Gargano might be part of the support team, but everything else felt familiar, almost nostalgic.

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Shayne Singleton celebrates victory on his return to boxing over CJ Wood. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

"It was unbelievable," said the 32-year-old. "I've been craving that feeling for nearly five years now. I get emotional just thinking about it. It took my breath away, it was some experience. I've always loved the sport, it's all I've ever known.

"I wish I could bottle that feeling up. I can't remember a time before boxing. I was nervous, I've been out for nearly five years, but I haven't lived the life [of an athlete] during that time. I'm now back down at 11st 9lbs, I'm lean and mean."

Speaking in the foyer that separated the labyrinth of changing rooms for the home and away fighters on the card — while promoter Gary Booth lauded the event's success in the background — Ince commented that the former British title challenger's timing had been 'well out' when outpointing CJ Wood.

Singleton agreed, though he found a way through when acting on his trainer's commands, just as he had when stopping Adil Anwar to land the vacant World Boxing Council International Silver Welterweight title at the Manchester Arena six years ago.

Action from Shayne SIngleton v CJ Wood. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

With Ince conducting from the sidelines, and the Pendle pugilist acknowledging the morse code out of the corner of his eye, he was able to step on and open up the defence of his opponent.

However, the storyline took a twist when Singleton sustained a Bankart lesion in the glenoid labrum of the shoulder in the fourth round before a left hook sent him to the canvas in the penultimate round of the contest.

The adrenaline carried him through and Singleton, who seemed in severe discomfort in the aftermath, lived to fight another day when referee Darren Sarginson scored the bout 59-55 in his favour.

"I can't tell you right now if I want to do it all again," said Singleton, who had looked like a well-schooled pro when working efficiently and effectively behind his jab.

"I've had some mixed emotions over the past few weeks in camp. I've doubted myself, questioned myself, I've been confident, nervous, but it's another box ticked off in my career. We'll just have to see what happens next now.

"It was well out [timing]. I was out of range, I didn't throw as many shots as I used to, but he could thump so I didn't want to do anything daft. I took one and I paid the price for it so I had to be switched on. I knew that about him. I'm happy and I've got the result."

He added: "It all came flooding back; I've missed it so much. It was intense, it was mental, my emotions were all over the place. I used to be chilled all the time, but I've been through a lot. I want to make everyone proud of me again. I just haven't been sleeping at night.

"I probably will have to do it again, but I want a big one. I want to be going in as the underdog, without the pressure. There were 300 fans out there and I felt the pressure because I needed to perform."

Singleton — who received a certificate of commendation from The Mayor of Pendle, Neil Butterworth, for his work in the community — would like to thank A. Kutz Barbers, P&S Engineering Services, Uprite Scaffolding, Nolan K9, Janitorial UK, Intershape Transformation Facility, Canning's Construction and Chief's Health Kitchen for their sponsorship and support. He would also like to extend a special thanks to coach Curtis Gargano for giving him the opportunity to compete once again as a professional.

Finally, despite injury, Shayne will still be running his boxing classes at Wachira Fight and Fitness in Colne. Classes for children aged 6-13 are at 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while adult classes, for those aged 13+, start at 6 p.m.