Michael Stephenson feels as if he’s starting from scratch as a whole new fighter after two years out of the ring.
His long-awaited return is fast approaching at the Park Inn Hotel, Northampton, on the evening of Wednesday December 8, as part of a show staged by BCB Promotions.
The 28-year-old, from Bedford, has joined up with Team Shoe-Box in Northampton and gone under the tutelage of James Conway, who will lead him into battle for the first time.
His previous pro career took in five contests, starting at middleweight with Darryl Sharp, where he recorded a 40-36 points whitewash after four rounds.
But Stephenson would be 1-1 after his second outing, where an early knockdown against him proved telling, at the final bell, as Danny Shannon edged past him by a point (38-37).
That was at super middle, where Stephenson would remain for his next two instances of action, both points successes as he settled into the pro ranks.
Casey Blair and Tsvetozar Illiev were both ousted by a four-round landslide, the latter an adversary for the likes of world title challengers Callum Johnson and Anthony Yarde.
Stephenson next took on Gianni Antoh in a light heavyweight affair, dropping only a share of one session as he prevailed by a 40-37 scoreline.
His progress has since stalled, with his ledger remaining at 4-1, and he’s trained hard for a selection of potential fights that were curtailed by restrictions of the pandemic.
He said: “I’ve almost lost count of the amount of dates I had that couldn’t happen, because of the pandemic, but I’ve stayed focussed and in the gym.
“I’ve been with Team Shoe-Box for about 18 months. Initially, I went down there for a sort of a trial and it’s gone on from there.
“I felt so much improvement in myself, since then. I’ve had top sparring and I think I’m better, smarter and stronger than I was before.
“There are levels that I want to get to but, for this one, it will almost be like having my debut again, with how much I’ve come on. It’s a new start for me.
“I may as well be at 0-0, in my head, and I just want to pick up the win and then get out again, as early as possible, next year.
“People forget that I didn’t have much experience, when I turned pro. I only had one amateur fight, where I knocked the guy out in 30 seconds.
“I never had another one, as an amateur. I did a bit of white collar (unlicensed) instead and, in my first one, stopped another lad. I had seven white collar bouts and won five of them.
“I’m still only 28 and I’ve only lost once, as a pro. He got the decision through a knockdown (in the first round) that I’ll never agree with.
“I think the best I’ve boxed (as a pro) was against the Bulgarian kid (Tsvtozar Iliev). He’s been in with most of the top lads.
“I dominated that one, from start to finish, without ever really getting out of first gear. That showed some of what I can do, at my best, but I know that I’m a much better boxer now.”
Tickets for the Park Inn bill are available, priced at £45 for unreserved seating or £80 VIP ringside with a two-course meal, directly from the boxers or by visiting myfighttickets.com.