John Joe Nevin has said doctors feared he would never walk properly again after an attack earlier this year, and that he ready to resume his quest for a world title with a win over Jack Heath.
Speaking ahead of his first professional fight on home soil, against British featherweight Heath as part of a packed undercard for Matthew Macklin’s world title eliminator against Jorge Sebastian Heiland, Nevin admitted to the same nerves he feels before any fight, but sounded confident that he could see off his young opponent.
“You can’t calm yourself down, you just go with it,” Nevin said. “As a professional starting out, I don’t want to lose too early on. I don’t want to lose any time, but if you lose straight away then your career is out the window. It’s a big test.”
The fight caps a truly remarkable recovery for Nevin. In April this year both his legs were broken in a vicious attack that threatened to end the career of the Olympic silver medallist.
“It was the worst feeling of my life,” Nevin said of the attack. “I was at my lowest, in there in the hospital lying, looking down at my leg and the bone coming out through it. It was horrible.”
Nevin said that he was trying to move on from the incident, and that he had received an apology in relation to it, which he had accepted.
“I want to move on from it,” he said. “My main aim is to win a world title. That’s it.”
“I was at my lowest, in there in the hospital lying, looking down at my leg and the bone coming out through it"
Asked whether he thought the injury would mean the end of his career as a boxer, Nevin said: “Yeah. The doctors [were] around me, telling me I might never – I might never box again? That wasn’t a worry – the concern was: would I walk again properly?”
The doctors tried to keep his spirits up by telling him he might be able to fight again in a year or two, but Nevin had other plans.
“If I was out for two years I might never come back,” he said. “I went to a bit of a low place when my legs were broken. But I finally got it into my head that I’d get back.
“Your body reacts to your mind, and my mind kept telling me, ‘You’re gonna get back, John Joe, you’re gonna be getting that world title you’re always chasing.’"
Nevin said that he had gone to the US to continue his recovery, and that in the longer term he would need to go there to further his career.
“To win a world title I’ll be there. To box in Madison Square Garden is my dream and then to win a world title there, bring it back here and defend it in Croke Park is the main aim.”
Looking to the immediate future and to Heath, Nevin said: “he’s tall, awkward. He’s only 20 years old, so he’d be young and he’ll be nervous knowing that he’s coming up against me.
“But I’m gonna enjoy it and hopefully go in and take him out early. If not, I’ll be in for a good four rounds.”
Asked whether he had a preference for when he would like to finish the fight, Nevin’s response was simple: “the quicker the better”.