Luck has rarely been on Antony Woolery’s side to this point of his sporting career writes Matt Maher.
But all it needed was one phone call to give the Wolverhampton-born cruiserweight the chance to go, in his own words, from “zero to hero” in the space of just a few hours.
Woolery has accepted a place in Ultimate Boxxer, a one night, eight-man elimination tournament which takes place in Altrincham this Friday (July 19).
The event, which will be screened live on BT Sport, offers Woolery an opportunity to demonstrate his talent on the big stage and, just perhaps, set up a bright future inside the ring.
He enters it as a firm underdog but also brimming with a new-found confidence, having emerged from a frustrating, injury-wracked 12 months.
The Stafford-based 34-year-old, a relative latecomer to the professional ranks, has been out of action since a points victory over Remigijus Ziausys in only his second paid bout last June.
Woolery told the Express & Star: “In the weeks after the fight I was struggling with a calf problem and it hampered my training. I couldn’t do any running.
“I had the idea of buying a bike to stay fit but I went and fell off and broke my shoulder!
“The joints came apart and that put me out for another three months.
“I was still injured when the Ultimate Boxxer event was first announced and to be honest I thought I had missed my chance.
“But then a day after returning to training, someone else had to pull out and I got the call. For once, it all seems to have fallen into place.”
Ex-serviceman Woolery turned to boxing after an injury to his patella tendon ended his semi-professional football career. After a promising time in the amateurs, which included a Midlands title win, he was persuaded to turn professional by his training partners at Wednesbury Amateur Boxing Club.
A plumber by trade who now owns his own business, IBK Installations, Woolery’s next few weeks will be focused entirely on preparations for the big.
He said: “This is a massive opportunity. It has the potential to be life-changing.
“At the ripe old age of 34, the timing feels right! I’m ready to give it my all. The lads at the gym have been really supportive. They were the ones always telling me to have a go in the professional ranks.
“Now I am going to be fighting live on TV. It is quite incredible really.”
The line-up includes former Commonwealth champion Tony Conquest, together with another Wolverhampton fighter, Matt Sen.
Woolery knows few will pay him much attention in the build-up but believes that could work to his advantage.
“I’m happy to be the underdog,” he said. “My opponents aren’t going to know a lot about me.
“I’ve been training solidly for the last three weeks and to be honest my confidence has gone through the roof.
“I wasn’t sure how my shoulder would react and at first I felt awkward and slow.
“That changed quite quickly and I now feel in great shape. I’ll be training full time for the next few weeks.
“The lads at work have been brilliant. They have all been encouraging me and filling in here and there to allow me to concentrate on the boxing.
“It’s a short format, three, three minute rounds. There isn’t going to be any time to feel your way into the fights and I think that suits my style.
“It’s a case of get in there and get stuck in. That is exactly what I plan to do.”