Jordan Gill feared his boxing days were over during a nightmare 12 months – now coronavirus has fast-tracked his route back to the top.
Gill, 26, lost his unbeaten record and his WBA international featherweight title when he was stunned by Mario Enrique Tinoco in Nottingham last May.
After winning a six-rounder in Italy in September to get back to winning ways, he was diagnosed with a thyroid disease and kept out of the ring in order to get things under control.
With his health problems now under control, Gill is back with a vengeance and will be thrown back into a tantalising domestic dust-up against Reece Bellotti at Matchroom Fight Camp on August 1.
“I’m 100% fit and healthy now,” Gill told Mirror Fighting.
“My body wasn’t right for a long time, so not only did I have the defeat I had some health problems to deal with as well.
“It’s been a nightmare 12 months, I felt like all my bad luck had come at once, but we’re over that now.
“I’m in a good place so I know if I can really get this win I can push on and try and have a good run.
“The situation has probably forced us to get into a tougher fight, but it’s also something that I wanted.
“I was meant to fight on March 28 in another warm-up fight before going into a big fight, but coronavirus has meant we’ve kind of skipped that which I’m pleased about.
“At this stage of my career I don’t want warm-up fights, I want to be involved in big fights so it’s a good step on the ladder and a good opportunity to start looking at bigger fights after this.”
Whilst Gill has one eye on a bright future, he has learnt the hard way he cannot look too far ahead.
A huge fight with Bellotti represents a huge chance to strengthen his position in the featherweight division whilst also silencing his critics.
Asked about dealing with defeat for the first time, Gill recalls: “It wasn’t great. I take the good comments on board and I’m the sort of person who can’t help but take the bad comments on board as well sometimes.
“But, at the end of the day, there are only a handful of people that I actually listen to properly, the main one being my trainer and manager Dave Coldwell.
“I learnt from it and moved on, and after this fight we’ll be in a strong position to push on for some really big fights.
“If I win this fight and win in good fashion I think the question marks will be answered and a lot of people who questioned me after the defeat will be answered.
“A lot of people don’t know the circumstances under which I lost that fight, so I want to wipe that clean and make people look at me as a serious fighter again.
“I know I need a good win like this fight to sort of wipe that clean to be able to move back on to domestic level and above.”
Styles make fights, and Gill vs Bellotti is being billed as a classic 50/50 fight involving the boxer and the brawler.
Bellotti has made his name for his big punching whilst Gill is known for his slick skills – yet he reckons their clash will be much more of a tactical battle.
“I think it’s a fight that captures the imagination of the fans,” Gill says.
“There are a lot of people seeing me as a slick boxer but seeing Reece Bellotti as someone who just comes and throws bombs.
“I think it’s going to be more than that. He can do more than just punch hard and I can do more than just box.
“It’s going to be interesting to see the tactics on the night from both of us, but I’m expecting a tough fight.
“It’s one that a lot of people are calling a 50/50 which is always exciting, and I’m expecting a good, hard fight.”
There is also the added complication of fighting behind closed doors amongst the first set of fights to take place in the back garden of Matchroom HQ.
“It’s going to be very interesting,” says Gill.
“I’m not sure what the atmosphere is going to be like or how it’s going to effect people.
“It’s one of those that you can’t prepare for and there’s no way of knowing until you’re in there how it’s going to play out in that situation.
“It’s something I’ve not really thought of too much because it’s not something you can really prepare for and we’ll just deal with it on the night I think.”