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Leon Gower is determined to get himself back on track when he returns to the ring after a long absence from action.

By dan mole

Leon Gower is determined to get himself back on track when he returns to the ring after a long absence from action.

One week shy of 20 months will have passed, since Gower last boxed, when he steps through the ropes for his next fight night.

He features on BCB Promotions’ first offering in the city for 2020, which will take place at the King’s Hall, in Stoke-on-Trent, this coming Friday March 13.

The 26-year-old, from Burton-on-Trent, went for area glory in September 2018, but was thwarted by Brad Foster for the vacant Midlands super bantamweight title.

He retired at the end of round eight after a bruising battle with Foster, who has since stepped up to claim the British and Commonwealth crowns.

Gower subsequently suffered shoulder problems that delayed his comeback and, come the end of last year, 2019 proved to be a write-off.

That makes his reintroduction all the more important and he’s reported a clean bill of health, having come through his training camp.

Lacing on the gloves again will mean a lot to Gower, who resumes his charge in the super bantam ranks with a still-favourable pro record.

He’s been a pro for over four years, outpointing Joe Beeden and Qasim Hussain before going on a run of three consecutive TKOs.

That hat-trick of stoppages began when he halted Craig Derbyshire, who went on to win area and English belts at lower weights, in three.

He then tackled Jack Summers in an eight-rounder, which was over in five when Gower piled the pressure on his overwhelmed opponent.

He has previous experience of boxing under the King’s Hall lights, too, when his third and last early finish saw him take out Dmitrijs Gutmans inside a round.

A points success over Brett Fidoe followed before he faced Foster, culminating in Gower’s current ledger of six victories from seven paid outings.

He said: “It’s been frustrating, I tore the rotator cuff in both shoulders, but I’m feeling brilliant now. I’ve got my fitness back and my weight has never really been an issue.

“I’ve lost some time because of it and, potentially, a bit of ground on my rivals, but I’ve not looked too deeply into that.

“I just want to be out there now, and get another win under my name. It’s a rebuilding process and I can’t wait to get started.

“It’s fair to expect a bit of ring rust but, hopefully, that will come off quickly if I can go at a good pace, from the first bell to the last.

“There’s no substitute for ring time and I wouldn’t mind all four rounds. The sharpness will come, the longer it goes, but a TKO always makes an impact.

“I got one in the first round, the last time I was at King’s Hall, and I enjoyed boxing there. It’s a great venue, it’s a good atmosphere with the Stoke lads and I’m bringing a fair few.

“I’ve only had the one defeat, I don’t dwell on it and I’m pleased to see Brad go on to bigger and better things. He’s done really well.

“He was the better man against me and it was a live 50-50 fight, at that stage. His performance was incredible and it gave him the boost he needed.

“I wasn’t my best against him, if I’m honest, it was like I’d left I’d like myself in the dressing room, but I’ve put it behind me now.”

Home favourite Nathan Heaney tops the King’s Hall bill, ahead of further attempts to get a crack at national level. He instead goes for the IBO Continental bauble.

‘The Hitman,’ the last to hold the Midlands middleweight title, has raced to nine victories from nine outings, with three TKOs along the way.

That included outpointing Tom Stokes for the vacant area crown in a 10-rounder last year, which formed part of 33 rounds boxed in total during 2019.

Serge Ambomo and Daniel Urbanski, the former a 2012 Olympian and the latter a one-time foe of Gennady Golovkin, were also seen off over the distance.

His last outing and stoppage came against Nelson Altamirano, who folded in the fifth of six scheduled rounds. He’d previously halted Martin Kabrhel and Sean Gorman.

Heaney, now aged 30, debuted in late 2017 with a points whitewash over Darryl Sharp, after a stellar amateur career with South Staffs Boxing Club, who he represented in 90 fights.

Three more paid pugilists from Stoke feature on the under-card with Kieron McLaren, Cole Johnson and Atal Khan set to occupy the home corner.

McLaren is the most experienced, having racked up 12 victories from 14 pro affairs, before taking on Lee Appleyard, who he pushed to a 95-95 draw after 10 rounds.

His one and only defeat then came to Maxi Hughes, in what was an eliminator for English lightweight honours, by fourth round stoppage.

Johnson is another part of the lightweight division and has notched five points successes so far, having taken every round along the way.

Simas Volosinas, Reynaldo Cajina, Dean Evans, Ibrar Riyaz and Dean Jones have been vanquished by Johnson, who is in his third year as a pro.

He previously became a national titleist as an amateur, claiming England Senior Development honours in 2017, as a graduate of Orme Boxing Club.

Southpaw Khan is a super lightweight who has his hand raised twice so far, as a pro, remaining unbeaten with no rounds lost going toe-to-toe with Riyaz and Matt ‘MJ’ Hall.

He got his amateur grounding with the Impact Boxing and later Orme gyms, racking up 28 victories from 42 unpaid contests.

Luke Caci is another product of the Orme fight factory, who will reach double figures when he steps through the ropes for a 10th time in the pro code.

The super middleweight, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, is still undefeated with nine wins and one TKO, halting Bryn Wain in the fifth of six rounds.

Joining Gower in making the trip from across the Midlands to compete is Connor Parker, who is from Woodville in Derbyshire.

Parker is looking to bounce back from a first pro defeat, with Sam Maxwell taking his ‘0’ through a seventh round stoppage for the WBO European super lightweight bauble.

He can redress the balance with a 13th pro success, the most notable of which saw him become Midlands champion at the expense of Kevin Hooper.

The left-hander upset the odds to force the retirement of the experienced Hooper, a former Midlands and English titleist, at the end of the fifth round during their 2018 meeting.