THE dream is over. York boxer Graham Fearn has rung the bell on his professional career after a bizarre ending in the midnight hour.
Almost five years ago at the sprightly age of 33, Fearn traded a distinguished amateur life spanning almost two decades to become a professional.
Now four days away from his 38th birthday the New Earswick warrior opted to hang up his gloves, calling it a day just before the lights went out – literally – in the Manchester Arena for both himself and one of his inspirations, Ricky “the Hitman” Hatton.
Headlining Hatton retired for the second time when he was beaten in his comeback fight by Ukrainian welterweight Vyacheslav Senchenko in front of a 19,000 crowd.
The records will also show that Fearn was knocked out in the second round of his scheduled six three-minute round contest against Sheffield’s Scott “Hotshot” Jenkins.
But the bare statistics do not explain how the Nestlé Rowntree production line worker was kept waiting in the dressing-room for almost eight hours before he finally stood toe to toe against undefeated lightweight prospect Jenkins.
He clambered through the ropes at 15 minutes past midnight for a bout originally scheduled to be third up on the under-card of the much-heralded Hatton comeback.
Said Fearn: “I’d got to the venue for 3.30pm and was told that the bill, on which I was supposed to be the third fight, would start at 5pm.
“The boxing did not start until an hour after that and the first two bouts went the distance, so I was put back down the list.”
So far down the list was Fearn and Jenkins, that the Yorkshire protagonists stepped into the ring at 12.15am.
Added Fearn: “I landed a couple of good jabs in the first round and also in the second but then I took a punch to the body and I went down. As I was down, I thought to myself “what am I doing here?” And I realised that was it for me.
“It wasn’t that I was fading or anything, I just lost concentration, I lost my focus. It was the fact that at my age, coming up to 38, I could do without being stuck in a dressing-room for almost eight hours.
“When we were walking to the ring they were dismantling the television cameras and stowing away the cables. It was like a jungle getting to the ropes.”
Fearn confessed to being emotional when he first made up his mind to quit, but now detached from the hype of the fight night in which he was dismayed by Hatton’s earlier exit, he knows he has made the right decision.
“I would not change a thing. I’ve had some great times and along with the lowlights I have had many highlights, many times that stand out,” said Fearn, adding he would not miss getting home from a 12-hour shift at Nestlé and then heading off on a six-mile training run.
“I’ve got my son Callum and my wife Sarah to concentrate on and that will do for me,” he said.
“As an amateur I was a national champion, which nobody from York had done for a long time.
“Then as a professional, I started with four bouts – four wins. I later boxed Frankie Gavin on the under-card of the Amir Khan world title fight.
“I also got to fulfil a schoolboy ambition of boxing as a pro in my home city of York, and I’ve now fought on the same bill as one of my heroes in Ricky Hatton.
“I have done all I have wanted to do. I’ve not been someone who said ‘if only I’d have done this or that…’. I’ve actually been and done it and I’m really happy about that and really happy about finally deciding to retire.”
For the record
Fearn has had 21 professional fights since his debut in October 2007.
He won five (one by knockout, lost 14 (three by ko) and drew two.
He appeared at top venues like York Hall in Bethnal Green, the Café Royal in London’s Piccadilly, the Don Valley Stadium, Leeds United’s Banqueting Hall and twice at the Manchester Arena.