‘I definitely over-achieved’, Colchester’s Lee Purdy reflects on his successful boxing career

Great Britain's Lee Purdy (left) celebrates defeating Mexico's Cosme Rivera in their IBF Internation

Great Britain's Lee Purdy (left) celebrates defeating Mexico's Cosme Rivera in their IBF International Welterweight Championship fight during the International Super Middleweight contest at Wembley Arena, London. - Credit: PA WIRE

Former British champion Lee Purdy admits he ‘over-achieved’ in the ring, after an eye injury cruelly brought a premature end to his boxing career on Tuesday.

The gutsy Colchester welterweight was forced to hang up his gloves after failing to recover sufficiently from his last bout, a gruelling European title fight against Leonard Bundu in December 2013 that saw him stopped in the final round.

The 27-year-old ended with a record of 20 victories from 26 bouts, including 13 knock-outs, and became a household name on the domestic circuit after his shock fifth round stoppage of British welterweight champion, Craig Watson.

Purdy lifted that belt in April 2011 before defending his title against Watson, in his challenger’s home town of Oldham, three months later.

They were two contests Purdy was not expected to win, the underdog tag becoming one Purdy became accustomed to over the years.

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“I definitely over-achieved, I was not supposed to win the British title, Craig was the big favourite and had been knocking everyone out, but I stopped him in five rounds,” said Purdy.

“I was not supposed to win the rematch in his home town but I did the same again, stopping him in five rounds, and I wasn’t supposed to be challenging for Commonwealth, European and world titles, but I did.

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“I never left anything in the changing room, all my efforts were left in the ring. I put my life on the line and unfortunately my body couldn’t cope.

“But I have had some great wins and some great nights. I got to fight in America and it’s nice to be able to reflect on that, having started at the bottom and worked my way up.

“The highlight though was winning the British title, nothing compares to that or would have, even if I’d have won the world title against Devon Alexander.

“When I first started training I had no goals or ambitions, I just liked boxing.”

Purdy’s fight against Alexander proved to be the Essex boxer’s penultimate contest, in what ended up being a non-title bout after the Englishman failed to make the weight for the IBF world title.

However, it was his final fight that would ultimately prove to be his downfall, Purdy conceding that he had known for a while his boxing days were numbered.

“I have known for a little while that my eye was not going to be good enough to pass a medical,” explained Purdy.

“I have had oil put in my eye to help it heal but doctors can’t tell me how good my vision will be when it comes out.

“I have had so many operations, I have so many scars. My vision has not been very good, so I had to come to the decision.

“Deep down I always had a little hope, but I knew it would have to come to an end sooner rather than later.”

Purdy’s career was celebrated at a special benefit night held for the boxer on Tuesday and proved just how much support he has in the area.

The cousin of Sudbury’s British Masters champion Billy Bird, Purdy was humbled by the event and revealed he would like to give something back to the sport.

“My trainers and team set up the night and I was overwhelmed by the support,” revealed Purdy.

“Some great fighters turned up, Michael Watson was there, and I felt truly humbled and blessed.

“Looking ahead, I don’t know what I want to do next.

“I would love to stay in the game and Colchester is quite a busy place for boxing.

“Boxing is my life, and I would always be interested if the opportunity came up to bring someone through the ranks.”

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