The St James's lightweight, Stephen Webb, is back in the ring on the big 'Celtic Clash 10' bill at the Devenish Complex, Belfast and back at the scene of a painful defeat.
Last May in Finaghy, in a big West Belfast derby, Webb was stopped in the second round by Divis destroyer Joe Fitzpatrick. 'The Spider' now wants to make amends and he goes straight into another domestic grudge match, taking on Dubliner Francy Luzoho over six rounds.
It's not a typical comeback for Webb - who was initially due to return versus another Dubliner, Martin Quinn, last October before injury intervened. Most fighters would take a risk-free match-up in their first bout back after a loss but the John Breen-trained boxer does not want to go this route. Webb feels he owes those around him a big performance and a big win, so he actively sought domestic opposition.
Webb explains how “a routine fight was something I thought about for this one, but I owe everyone a big performance and there is no better way than doing it with an all-Irish win. I remember being melted after the [Fitzpatrick] fight and in the changing rooms and I asked Leonard and Dennis [Gunning and Morrison, management team] for another Irish opponent next. I just know in that last fight I didn’t do myself any favours and I want to prove to everyone exactly what I can do. This really is the best way to do it and against the perfect opponent."
Luzoho was controversially beaten by Quinn last year and holds an identical record to Webb - one win and win loss - but the Belfast boxer is not taking his Coolock opponent for granted. That said, he expects to be a big winner next month.
“I genuinely see him as undefeated, he should have got the win against Quinn in my eyes and a lot of others, but I’ll hand him a proper defeat come February 1st. I don’t know much about Francy I didn’t see his debut but I did watch his fight against Quinn a few times as I was doing my homework on Quinn and really do think he was hard done by. But I’m planning out going into this fight and just enjoying the whole fight and boxing the best I can, no doubt an easy win though”
The Luzoho fight represents a comeback in more than one way for Webb. The 24-year-old was commended a few months back for opening up on his battles with gambling addiction. Webb explained how "for the last few years I’ve had a major gambling problem and anyone that really knew me would be able to tell you the positions I’ve put myself in because of it. From losing people who meant a lot to me, losing really good friends, people wiping their hands of me] and it even followed me into my professional boxing career having friends, coaches, and managers falling out with me over it all. I’ve made a lot of big mistakes in my life and over the last few weeks I’ve been trying my best to put things straight and anyone that’s had problems with gambling will tell you it’s hard to admit you’ve a problem but I finally admitted that I have! It’s a horrible disease that’s ruined a lot of things in my life!"
A win over Luzoho won’t repair old wounds, but Webb believes it can help, outlining how “it’s no big secret that I’ve had personal problems- losing friends and a girlfriend due them not trusting me and me taking advantage of them, which I do regret. I’m trying to change myself as a person more everyday and hope, one day, people can see me for the real person I am. 2020 is my year, starting with a win and building bridges again.”
'Celtic Clash 10' will be headlined by Irish featherweight champion Eric Donovan and, alongside Webb v Luzoho, also features Antrim Town cruiserweight Conor Cooke, Larne super feather Kelvin McDonald, North Belfast light middle Owen O'Neill, West Belfast super middle Conor Doherty, Bray super bantam Sam Carroll, Dublin welter John Joyce, Cavan light middle Dominic Donegan, Sligo welter Aaron Gethins, Kildare light welter Katelynn Phelan, Waterford super middle Rhys Moran, and Crumlin duo Tony McGlynn and Senan Kelly.
Tickets cost £35 (unreserved) or £50 (ringside) and can be bought from all the boxers on the bill. Stephen Webb can be contacted via his social media, ringing 07923 239114 or visiting Universe.com.