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Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Sunday, 10 October 2010 13:08 UK

Weight is over for Docherty

Scottish boxer Craig Docherty
Docherty found it difficult making the weight at super-featherweight level

Jim Black
By Jim Black

Craig Docherty once famously fought for 11 rounds with his vision impaired and his breathing hampered by blood seeping into his eyes and mouth.

Docherty's first defence of the Commonwealth super-featherweight title against Abdul Malik Jabir at Glasgow's Bellahouston Sports Centre in November 2003 appeared doomed when the challenger opened up a nasty gash above his opponent's left eye in the opening seconds of the bout.

The fact that he survived and ultimately prevailed against the Ghanaian, by dint of a points win, said as much about 31-year-old Docherty's raw courage as it did about his "cuts man" Benny King's skills, which have earned him the sobriquet "Healing Hands."

It was the defining performance of Docherty's career. But his subsequent attempts to add the European and British titles to his CV ended in disappointment when he lost to the Russian, Boris Sinitsin, and Alex Arthur in turn.

Those defeats created an element of disillusionment, resulting in Docherty being inactive for three lengthy spells over the next four years.

Perhaps if his bout with Aberdonian Lee McAllister in October 2007 for the vacant WBU lightweight title had resulted in a different outcome, Docherty would have been encouraged to make a greater effort.

But, following that loss and another at the hands of Gary Buckland for the Celtic lightweight title in February last year, Docherty fell away from boxing to the extent that he spent 15 months mulling over his future before making a winning return to the ring in June.

"I took everything out of myself making the weight and felt completely spent," said Docherty. "I was still running 10 miles the night before the Buckland fight and I was still over the nine stone, nine pound limit next day at the weigh-in.

"I ended up having to sweat off the excess weight in a sauna, draining myself of what energy I had left.

"I decided there and then that I wasn't doing that to my body again, not because I felt I was too old but because of the potential long-term damage I might do to myself.

"A couple of weeks after the Buckland fight in Barnsley, I agreed to a welterweight contest with Ashley Theophane in London and lost that one as well, also on points.

"By that time, I was scunnered of boxing to the extent that I'd had enough."

But a chance meeting with Paul Weir rekindled Docherty's interest after the ex-dual world champion expressed an interest in working with him.

"I was half-hearted at first," Docherty admitted. "But, once we had tried a few things in the gym, I could feel a bond developing between Paul and I and the old moves started coming back.

I had lost my desire and let things that were happening in my private life get on top of me.

Boxer Craig Docherty

"That gave me back my appetite for boxing and I realised that I had something left in me if I applied myself properly and got fit.

"After once being in the top-10 super-featherweights in the world, I had begun to feel that the big prizes had passed me by and that was heartbreaking because I was still only 30.

"I had lost my desire and let things that were happening in my private life get on top of me.

"A large part of the problem was that I had laboured under the misapprehension that I had to fight at lightweight to be a success and that was simply not true.

"Once you strip away all the fat from your body, that's the weight you should fight at. You cannot realistically campaign at nine stone if, once you remove all the fat, you weigh 11 stone.

"But I am more positive now that I have decided to fight at light-middleweight. I have been knocking guys out at the weight in sparring.

"They will testify that I am punching harder at the weight instead of trying to boil myself down to try and make an unrealistic weight.

"It is all very well weighing-in 24-hours before a fight, but you don't recover your snap and zip, and your punch resistance can also go, so if you take a blow to the head, it can result in problems."

Docherty, who is working as a personal trainer, realises that, had he not made the effort to resurrect his career, he would have been left with a sense of deep regret at not having given himself the chance to fulfil his potential.

"Now that I am applying myself to the task, if things don't work out as planned, at least I can walk away from the sport knowing that I tried," he added.

"I have never lacked courage and determination, but I am enjoying boxing again and I feel physically stronger and more muscular at 11 stone and also mentally fresher."

Having stopped Paddy Pollock in one round in his comeback bout to claim the vacant British light-middleweight title and following up by out-pointing Ryan Clark three weeks later, Docherty had been due to feature on the undercard of Ricky Burns' world title bill.

But he was denied the opportunity when his opponent called-off immediately prior to the Kelvin Hall show.

However, with Burns due to defend his WBO super-featherweight crown against Norwegian-based Colombian Andreas Evensen at Braehead Arena on 4 December, Docherty is hopeful of playing a supporting role.

see also
McCallum is California dreaming
09 Sep 10 |  Scotland
Incomparable drama on Burns night
05 Sep 10 |  Boxing
McEwan's dream to emulate Buchanan
28 Jun 10 |  Scotland
Burns awaits title destiny
03 Jun 10 |  Boxing
Lack of bouts frustrates Simpson
30 Apr 10 |  Boxing
Scottish boxing is fighting fit
25 Jan 10 |  Scotland
Boxing basics
13 Dec 05 |  Get Involved
Amateur boxing explained
01 Mar 06 |  Boxing

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