By Martin Breheny
DUBLIN — Steve Collins is committed to a return to boxing 16 months after announcing that his career was over.
Collins retired as WBO world super-middleweight champion in October 1997 but is now determined to return for a big-money fight with Florida superstar Roy Jones. Collins traveled to Florida last weekend hoping to persuade Jones to give him a shot at his world light-heavyweight title in April or May.
Jones is widely regarded as being one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but Collins has always insisted that he could beat him. Jones showed little interest in boxing Collins in the past year but may change his mind, now that he believes Collins’s best days are behind him.
When Collins quit the ring, he insisted that Jones’s failure to fight him was one of the main reasons for his decision. He said he could not motivate himself for bouts against lesser opponents.
"I always wanted a fight with Jones, just to prove that I could beat him," Collins said. "He dodged me for years, but if he wants to be recognized as a genuine champion, he can’t stop running away from me forever."
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Collins’s last fight was in July 1997, when he beat Craig Cummings in Glasgow in a world title defense.
Collins, who’s 34, has kept in good shape since retiring and opened a gym on Dublin’s Capel Street, where, among others, he has trained his younger brother Pascal and former Olympic champion Michael Carruth.
Many will question the wisdom of Collins’s desire to return to the ring after being out for so long, but then he has always ignored conventional wisdom and followed his own instincts. A fight with Jones could earn him more than £1 million, so it’s easy to see why he is so keen to land one final big pay day.
If Jones agrees to fight Collins, every effort will be made to bring the fight to Dublin. Dalymount Park, home to Bohemians soccer club, has been mentioned as a possible venue. Bohemians are managed by Collins’s brother Roddy.
Collins has been a professional since 1986 and won 36 of his 39 professional bouts. He won nine world title fights in a great run before deciding to quit. Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn were among his more high-profile victims, while the only men to beat him were Mike McCallum, Sumbu Kalambay and Reggie Johnson.
Now it seems that Collins is all set for another date with destiny against one of the most feared opponents in boxing.
K-Club to host Ryder
A formal announcement is expected later this week that the K-Club in Straffan will be the venue for the 2005 Ryder Cup. The course has been favorite to stage the big event ever since it emerged that Ireland had been chosen for the 2005 staging of the America vs. Europe classic.
The K-Club’s successful hosting of the European Open, allied to Michael Smurfit’s personal interest in bringing the Ryder Cup to Straffan, have been hugely influential in pushing the club to the forefront in a closely contested race to stage one of the most prestigious events in world sport.
Corcoran opts for hurling
Cork’s dual star, Brian Corcoran, is to concentrate on hurling this year. He said feels that he can no longer combine both hurling and football and has decided to opt for hurling. If Cork are eliminated early on in the hurling championship, he may return to football, but he does not intend to battle for a place on both teams.
He said that it was time to make a choice and he had decided to opt for hurling this year. Cork are drawn against either Limerick or Waterford in the Munster hurling semifinal and hopes are high that Jimmy Barry Murphy’s men can make the long-awaited breakthrough this season.
Meanwhile, Eamon Morrissey has announced his retirement from inter-county hurling. The former Kilkenny star played for Dublin in the last two seasons, but has decided to quit the inter-county scene after a long and distinguished career which saw him win All-Ireland medals in 1982-83.
Weld clears Hurdle
Dermot Weld’s Archive Footage landed the valuable Ladbroke Hurdle in Leopardstown last Saturday, romping to a victory under David Evans’s guidance. The 25/1 shot beat another outsider, Daraheen Chief (40/1) with It’s Time for a win third at 25/1.
It was a special win for Weld as the Ladbroke Hurdle was the only major prize to have eluded him on the jump circuit over the years.