“After my operation, the weight blew up and I wasn’t in the gym for a while, and I think at one stage I thought, ‘Nah – this isn’t happening for me again. I don’t think I’ll fight again’. I was too far away from it.”
The Stewart Burt (13-2-1, 1 KO) speaking to Boxing Social right now versus the Burt of six months ago presents a mismatch.
After suffering a second career defeat back in February 2020, the Newton Mearns welterweight had initially tried to set his mind to a prospective comeback. Sadly, the world had other ideas, and, after neglecting a serious injury for the sake of his career for more than three years, his return to the ring had grown nigh-on impossible.
Now, back in the gym and newly signed with Glasgow-based promoter Sam Kynoch, there’s a detectable, fresh enthusiasm in his voice. Burt fights on October 29, featuring on Kynoch Boxing’s Trump Turnberry show and, after visiting the venue for a friend’s wedding years ago, it’s one he’s been excited to tick off the list.
This fight, opposite CJ Wood (3-1, 1 KO) is the first step on Burt’s return to boxing and, hopefully, his first tip-toe towards his return to championship fights. Scotland’s (and Glasgow’s in particular) boxing scene is undergoing a serious resurrection after the blackout caused in the wake of Covid-19. With an increase in the number of televised shows via FightZone, and promising talent sprouting from various gyms, Burt knows it’s the perfect time to get back on the horse.
“I’ll not bore you with the longer story but the last time I fought, I was with Alex Morrison last February – so, you’re talking over 18 months ago. I actually had an operation in June to remove a double hernia in my groin. Between that and the fact that for the past 18 months there’s not really been much going on in Scottish boxing, I kind of lost a wee bit of hunger through everything,” Burt told Boxing Social.
“But I got sick of sitting about after my operation. I forced myself back in [to the gym] just to do a wee bit and we had utilised Sam’s gym a bit over the past six months. I had maybe been training for a couple of weeks and when you get back into it, you know you’ve missed it.”
It’s been stop-start for the Glasgow fighter, a seasoned amateur and now-experienced professional. That last fight, travelling to Sheffield in pursuit of a meaningful victory over Anthony Tomlinson, didn’t end the way that Burt and his trainer, Joe Ham Sr, had intended. Burt was boxing well and some reportedly had him ahead at the time of the stoppage. But that’s boxing.
Caught with a shot in the ninth round, the referee stepped in to halt the contest. Premature? Maybe then, he thought. But after time to reflect, Burt understands the game and the need for caution when dealing with fighter safety: “I stuck to the game plan. We knew he was a puncher, and it was a genuine, tough, 10-round fight. The last thing I wanted to do was stand there and trade with the guy and, for most of the fight, I did stick to that. I think – from memory – there was 20 or 30 seconds of the ninth round and at the time, I didn’t think it was that bad. But watching it back, you can see my foot go a wee bit. Boxers will always argue their stoppages… but I didn’t think I was any grave danger. That’s it in a nutshell. Anthony was tough and he could punch as well, but obviously it was gutting.”
When talking through his post-fight reflection, the 31-year-old demonstrated maturity, explaining the mental standing of a fallen fighter, and how tasting a second defeat differed from his first loss.
“When I lost to Ally Black [L10], I didn’t have any losses prior to that. See once you do lose, the novelty of being an undefeated boxer wears off. For me, anyway, you don’t fear losing as much. You’ve been through it, and you know what it’s like; you know it’s not as bad as you thought it would be. You learn, you move on, what else can you do?
“Obviously, you don’t train to lose and to get beat, but it always adds a little extra, that experience and knowing how to deal with a loss. I always want to win, but you can say, ‘I’m gonna give it my best, and see at the end of the day, this isn’t the end of the world’. I just want to be able to say when I come out of this fight that I’ve still got it. It’s still there – I’m not too far gone. I’m not an aged pro, I’ve not had too many hard fights.”
The former Scottish welterweight champion continued: “My main focus for the past 10 weeks has just been getting myself in the gym, getting fit, losing the excess weight which I’ve pretty much done now. That was my main focus – get myself back fit and healthy, get myself back to a better place physically and mentally. When I started training again, that was my sole focus. Three weeks away now and still a bit of work to do, but this guy will certainly come to fight. He looks quite strong and in no way will this be an easy night. I know that I’m the better boxer, so if I can just stick to what I do best, I’ll be fine.”
An electrician by trade, the returning talent knows all about the difficulties faced when juggling a demanding job and the physical constraints of boxing professionally. But he knows that he “has to find a way” to make it work. Early mornings, late nights, missed, important social events and brutal S&C sessions. Until reaching a certain level, it’s part and parcel of the sport at a small hall level and it’s something Burt accepts. If you want it bad enough, you’ll sacrifice those things and roll the dice with a single night’s work, either winning or losing, either landing on a snake or a ladder. As far as he is concerned, it’s ladders from here on out.
“You just want to get back and you want to win,” said Burt. “You want to get back to where you left off. I want to be fit, be sharp, be ready, and with the added bonus of putting on a good performance on a televised show. I’m almost back to where I was now.”
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.