A VICTIM left scarred by a rising boxing star in a vicious pub attack says the assault has left him unwilling to go out to bars.
Martin Waller, 38, needed more than 50 stitches to his face after he was floored by a punch from Amateur Boxing Association finalist Declan Fusco.
The dad-of-four does not have much memory of what happened, but says he was shocked to find out his attacker was a boxer who dreams of competing in the Commonwealth Games.
He said: “He doesn’t act like he aspires to fight in the Commonwealth.
“I haven’t been in the pub since. It’s left me increasingly frustrated and shaken to think it could happen.”
Fusco, 22, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court, and pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Waller, as well as common assault after punching his friend Stephen Alban.
The attack happened on December 23 in The Village Inn, Easington Village.
CCTV footage from the pub played to the court showed a packed bar and Fusco talking to the two men before he hit Mr Alban and then delivered a right hook to Mr Waller, knocking him to the floor.
Mr Waller, from Easington Village, attended Peterlee Walk-In Centre, where he said his injury was so severe that a doctor was able to “poke his finger through the other side of my cheek”.
He could be left with permanent nerve damage and is scarred for life.
Mr Waller, married to former East Durham College tutor Helen, 31, said: “I probably go out once, or at best twice, a year.
“I went out for a drink that night to the Southside Club, and went over to the Village Inn and there were two lads in there.
“All I can remember is them looking like they were making their mouths go and the owner of the pub told them to calm down or they would get thrown out. I wasn’t paying a great deal of attention. I turned round and saw Declan Fusco poking my friend Stephen in the chest.
“He said ‘your mate’s causing all this chew’ and I said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’.
“After that, I have no recollection of what happened. I came round and was covered in blood with a hole in my mouth.”
Mr Waller, who had never met the boxer before, and at 6ft 5in is taller than Fusco, added: “All the people who were there made statements. He was quite clearly looking for some kind of trouble in the pub.
“But I was the biggest in the pub, and he probably wanted to try his luck.”
Mr Wallertook issue with Fusco’s claim in court that he had made a racial remark to Fusco before he struck him.
He said: “I have been in business all my life since leaving school, and my mum and grandfather are black.
“I lived in Africa for four years.
“Stephen has worked for the Communication Workers’ Union quite high up, where he defends people.
“What was said about the racial remark is not true.”
He added: “I think he should be stripped of his boxing licence. When I left school I was a professional boxer in Africa, so I understand what it’s like to be a professional sportsman at a young age.
“I didn’t act like that. I had a respect.”
Fusco was bailed to appear at Durham Crown Court on May 22.