Jordan Gill can look ahead to a bright future after stopping Michael Conlan in Belfast on Saturday night.
The fight was set up to provide proof that after two unsuccessful challenges for featherweight world titles, Conlan - armed with a new trainer in Pedro Diaz - was recharged and ready for a third assault on the world scene at super featherweight. Instead, it was the underdog from Peterborough who breathed new life into his career.
Gill was outstanding. He dropped Conlan in the second round and hurt him on numerous occasions before forcing a seventh round stoppage.
“I expected it,” Gill said at a post fight huddle. “I don’t think anybody else expected it but it went to plan. It went well and I think a lot of people made a lot of money tonight.”
Gill has been inactive since suffering a damaging knockout loss to Kiko Martinez last October.
To the outside world he appeared to being doing all he could to prepare himself for his comeback.
He decided to change trainers - leaving behind Dave Coldwell in Sheffield and working with his father and Barry Smith at the Ben Davison Performance Centre in Essex - and moved up to the super featherweight division after spending years boiling himself down to 126lbs.
Those were professional decisions. The 29 year old revealed after the fight that he has been suffering much more serious issues outside of the ring and that at one point, things became so bad that he contemplated taking his own life.
“I’ve had a tough year. The last 12 months have been very tough for me,” he said. “I didn’t know much about my future with boxing - I didn’t know much about my future with anything. I split up with my wife and was doing other things. I didn’t have a clear path and hit rock bottom you could say. Somehow with the support of the people around me I’ve turned my life round and we’ve got a big win.”
"Sometimes things that happen to you make you stronger and give you that grip to get through hard times. In my head today I was thinking about Buster Douglas’ performance against Mike Tyson after his mum died. He went through that hardship mentally. I’ve been through that hardship mentally. Nothing was going to break me tonight.
“Michael said I had quit in me. I’ve never, ever had quit in me.”
Gill ended a tough year on the highest note possible. He can relax over Christmas, safe in the knowledge that his boxing future is secured. Gill looked like a fighter reborn at super featherweight, displaying better punch resistance and heavier hands than he has shown over the past couple of years of his career. Gill will now join his best friend, former WBA featherweight champion, Leigh Wood, in taking aim at the top names at 130lbs.
“I’m relishing the opportunity. I will grab that opportunity to fight for a world title with both hands. I’ll put on another good show and please the fans again,” he said.
“I’m at the top level. I can do it at the top level. I’ve won a European title, won a Commonwealth title and three of these WBA [International belts] now. I feel like I deserve a world title shot and I can compete at that level. I’m just excited for what’s next.”