by James Slater – When 30-year-old Graham Earl of Luton announced his retirement from the ring after he’d been beaten in a round by fellow Brit Henry Castle last October, most, if not all people felt the former British and Commonwealth lightweight champion was doing the smart thing. The Castle loss was Earl’s third straight stoppage defeat and his second consecutive 1st-round loss. Earl said he was going to open up his own gym and concentrate on the training side of his sport..
But now, a mere five months on, and after opening the gym as planned, the fighter inside Earl has resurfaced and he is planning a return to the ring this coming April. It seems the 30-year-old is yet another warrior who cannot say goodbye to prize fighting. Earl spoke to The Luton News, and he said he will be coming back as a light-welterweight.
“I don’t want to wake up in five or six years time thinking that I should’ve given it another go,” Earl said. “The hunger is still there and I feel that I’ve got something to offer. I wouldn’t do it if I felt I couldn’t, but I feel good and everything I need is still there.”
Is everything Earl, 25-4(12) needs still there though? A reliable chin was something that was evidently lacking in the lightweight’s last two fights – when he was blown away inside three minutes by Amir Khan and then by Castle. Okay, one could perhaps make a case that Earl was caught either cold or off guard in those two fights, but in all honesty the likeable Luton man looked a shot fighter.
Beaten in his fight before the two one round setbacks, in a savage war with Australia’s Michael Katsidis, Earl more than likely left all he had left in the ring with him that unforgettable Feb. 2007 night. Battling for the interim version of the WBO 135-pound title, the gutsy Brit really gave his all. Forced to stay on his stool after five pulsating and damaging rounds, Earl won the crowd’s affection but lost the fight.
Soon after the brutal loss to Katsidis, Earl’s trainer Johnny Eames suggested his fighter call it a day – when he refused, Eames walked away from his position as his trainer. Carrying on without him, Earl only proved his former trainer correct – he had nothing left. Yet now, after appearing to have realised his time as a top class fighter had been and gone, Earl is on the comeback trail.
It is not yet known who he will fight in April, but going up in weight will surely only prove to be a dangerous move for the man who holds fine wins at lightweight over men such as Yuri Romanov and Bobby Vanzie. Simply put, if the battle-worn Earl’s chin failed him at 135-pounds what will happen when he’s hit hard by a 140-pounder?
Earl seems firm on his decision, though, and all we can do is wish him luck.