FORMER title-challenging boxer Harry Matthews has come out of retirement and is planning to return to the ring before the year is out.

Matthews called time on his career in January after 66 professional fights, having boxed for the English and Central Area titles during that time.

The light heavyweight, who also trains boxers, took his young amateur Billy Gamov to a new gym in Guiseley during lockdown, where his passion for the sport returned. That led to him making the decision to have one last run in the pro game.

“When lockdown came Glenn Banks, my old manager, we’ve kept in contact and we’ve been going for the odd run.

“He told me that there was a gym in Guiseley called BoxFit and there was a trainer over there called Brendan Halford. He said ‘Why not try the gym out? It’s something completely new.’

“I was previously training with Niall Almond and he was really busy with his amateurs in Doncaster and there was no other lads in the gym to spar who were at my weight.

“When I decided to try out the gym in Guiseley, that brought something completely new. I was working on new things on the pads with Brendan and started doing a little bit of sparring when we were allowed.

“Things started to flow and I was enjoying the training and the vibe down there. And I thought to myself ‘I’m going to come back and give this another go.’

“I’m training down there three times a week at the minute and I’m sparring some good kids and I feel like I’m back to my best.”

The 32-year-old’s record stands at 16 wins, 47 defeats and three draws. For the most part of his career, he has acted as the away fighter - taking fights against highly-rated prospects often at short notice.

This time though he wants to go in a different direction.

“I’m wanting to go into the home corner this time and not go on the road” Matthews continued.

“I want to have two or three more fights to finish in a better manner than I did last time (his last two fights have ended in knockout defeats).

“I’m aiming to sell tickets so, I want to make sure that I put on some good performances that people will enjoy.

“In my last fight, I’d just got back from travelling and I wasn’t prepared. The other kid was geared up for it and I just wasn’t.

“This time, I’m doing it for my passion for the sport and not for the money. I’m doing this because it makes me happy not because it’s something that I need to do.

“I’ve got plenty of experience of boxing the top guys, I’ve come away, I’ve had a rest and I’ve been able to re-evaluate on areas where I was going wrong.

“I think that I can come back and choosing the right opponents to get some good performances out of me.

“I’m not after a knock-over job, I want a challenge but at the same time, I want to be able to build on a win and go from there.

“At the minute, my focus is on getting a six-rounder, winning it and going from there.”

Given that only the major promoters are currently running it remains to be seen when Matthews will be back in the ring.

“I’m hoping that by October or November, there can be shows with some crowds in again and I can start selling some tickets,” he said.

“Obviously, never say never, if there’s a shot on a big show and I feel like it’s the right fight, I’ll be open to that too.”