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Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2006, 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK
Injury forces Nelson retirement
Johnny Nelson
Nelson, now 39, defended his WBO title 14 times
Johnny Nelson has been forced to call time on his boxing career because of persistent knee and back problems.

The Yorkshireman, 39, announced his retirement after pulling out of next month's WBO cruiserweight title fight with Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli.

"I've decided to say that's it, I'll call it a day," said Nelson, who defended his WBO crown 14 times. "Out with the old, in with the new."

Doctors had already advised Nelson to quit after knee surgery in March.

Nelson had managed to return to training following that operation, but he was then struck by a back injury.

"The injuries that I have acquired through training for fights over the past years just will not let me step up to the next level in preparation for my next fight," said Nelson.

"In the mornings when I get up, boxing is no longer the first thing I think about. I think about the injuries."

Nelson's WBO belt will pass to Maccarinelli subject to the governing body's approval.

Maccarinelli, whose nest fight will be against Mark Hobson, won the interim crown when he beat Marcelo Dominguez in July.

Nelson had already pulled out of the first scheduled fight with Maccarinelli in March.

I'm absolutely gutted. This was going to be my biggest fight.

Enzo Maccarinelli

Robert Smith, assistant general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, paid tribute to Nelson following his decision to retire.

"Johnny Nelson has been a great ambassador for boxing and a great champion," he said.

"He has done it the hard way throughout his 20-year career and has always been a gentleman and a credit to the sport."

Maccarinelli had been hoping to prove himself as Britain's best cruiserweight by beating Nelson.

But the 26-year-old must now prepare for a re-match with Yorkshireman Hobson, who also stepped in as a replacement for Nelson in March.

"I'm absolutely gutted. This was going to be my biggest fight," said Maccarinelli, who beat Hobson on points last time.

"I have trained so hard for more than a year, what with the last one being cancelled, and when I got the call I was devastated.

"There's not a huge number of big names in the division after Nelson, but what can I do? The show must go on.

"He's been a great champion and a good role model for the sport over the years and it's just a great shame that the two best cruiserweights in Britain did not get to meet each other."

Maccarinelli admits he will take little joy from being ushered in as champion without throwing a punch.

"It's no consolation at all," he said. "I'm a fighter and I wanted to earn that belt fair and square by beating him up in the ring.

"I won't get that chance now. If he won't fight me, then what can I do?

"However, Hobson will really be up for this fight and I reckon he will be more prepared this time.

"The last fight was a good scrap for the fans but this time I'm not going to go the distance - I will knock him out."

Maccarinelli's fight will be on the undercard of Joe Calzaghe's bout with Cameroon's Sakio Bika at the MEN Arena.

SEE ALSO
Bika undaunted by Calzaghe test
05 Sep 06 |  Boxing
Maccarinelli gives up WBU title
06 Aug 06 |  Boxing


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