Nathan Dale making his comeback as Norwich show heads over the border into Essex
- Credit: Jerry Daws/stillfocused
Nathan Dale reaches the end of a long road to recovery tonight when he steps into the ring for the first time in 15 months.
The Norwich fighter has undergone hand surgery in the meantime and tonight's trip to Braintree is the first 'tester' as he seeks to mix it up in the super-lightweight division.
'The right hand looks good,' said trainer Graham Everett. 'He looks comfortable – we haven't done anything with eight-ounce gloves yet so he needs one or two fights back to check that hand out, get rid of any rust and then we are going looking for all the big guns.'
Dale's last outing was in February last year when he lifted the IBF world youth welterweight title, and while the March show in Norwich came just a little too soon, he has spent quality time sparring with stablemate Liam Walsh during his preparation for his successful British and Commonwealth super-featherweight title defence against Troy James
'I am really pleased with Nathan,' said Everett. 'He was working well with Liam out in Tenerife. He has obviously gone through some troubled times and was probably feeling a bit down during his time out as well, but he has stayed focused, stayed in the gym and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and the will for him to do well.
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'He is just everything you want in the gym – not too much to say and a real hard worker who is a pleasure to work with.'
Dale, 25, who has won all 17 of his outings, has no easy comeback: he takes on the durable James Gorman, whose record of eight wins, 20 defeats and a draw hides the fact that he is very rarely fails to see out a fight.
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'Gorman is very tough, never gets stopped and always wins rounds,' added Everett. 'It is not an easy comeback, but this is where Nathan wants to go – he wants to up himself and he wants to get in the mix.'
Dale heads into Essex with fellow Norwich fighter Zaiphan Morris, who takes on Hull's Luke Fash, winner of two of his seven fights.
Morris, 31, is fighting outside of Norwich for the first time, defending a record of five wins in a draw.
'Zaiphan is really excited about boxing away,' said Everett. 'It is something he has wanted to do. We have had to look after Zaiphan because he has no amateur experience and is a late starter and before they get out and about you need to make sure they find that little bit of extra experience through gym work to make up for what they lack as amateurs.'
Top of the bill is home favourite Billy Bird, who takes on Evaldas Korsakes (3 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw) for the International Challenge light-middleweight belt.
It's a tough task for Bird, who fights out of Everett's Kickstop Gym.
'Billy has his hands full,' Everett said. 'He has a hard fight, a real 50-50. The kid hasn't got the great record but he has been in with some good fighters and he comes to knock his men out. Nobody touches him, he is just a nuisance, but Billy needs to step it up – he has a real lively test.'
Norwich's Sam Sexton has been pencilled in to fight Dave Allen for the English heavyweight title which will act as a final eliminator for the British title. However, Hughie Fury has turned down a fight against Dillian Whyte for the vacant British crown.