SUNDERLAND cruiserweight David Dolan has been promised a tough return to the ring – by his coach Neil Fannan.
Dolan will be matched with a hungry, up-and-coming fighter when he climbs through the ropes for the first time in nine months at the Hartlepool Borough Hall at the end of March.
And Fannan says that if Dolan fails to deliver a win, then it could be time for the Wearsider to hang up his gloves for good.
Many observers expected Dolan’s Northern Area cruiserweight title defeat to Jon Lewis Dickinson at the Stadium of Light last year to be his swansong.
The Birtley boxer took a 97-94 decision – leaving Dolan with only one win in his last four contests.
Even straight-talking Fannan raised doubts at the time when he said the Sunderland fighter “seemed to grow old in that fight.”
But Dolan has returned to Fannan’s gym after a breather and will box again on the Super Sunday show on March 25.
And Fannan has welcomed the former British and Commonwealth championship contender back with open arms, despite warning the 32-year-old there will be no easy ride on his comeback.
“Dave is looking good,” Fannan said. “He has been a great professional and I think he was very unlucky not to become the British champion.
“Dave wants to give it a go. But I want a tough contest for him.
“I would love him to be matched with a young, up-and-coming fighter – someone who is after his scalp and fancies it. I don’t want a knock-over job. I want someone who is coming for a fight and coming to beat him.
“Dave has had loads of notice for this bout and let’s see what he’s got.”
Fannan is keen to see if Dolan has any gas left in the tank and, given the relatively sparse sprinkling of talent at cruiserweight, the door could still be ajar.
But, on the flip side, the trainer won’t shy away from any difficult calls.
“If he comes through a hard fight and looks half-decent then he is back in the mix,” Fannan said. “If he doesn’t, then there is no point kidding ourselves.”
Dolan has failed to win his last three title bouts.
He drew with Rob Norton in their British and Commonwealth championship in January, 2010, but retired because of injury after six rounds of his English title battle with Terry Dunstan 11 months later.
Dolan then lost to Dickinson at the Stadium of Light last July for the Northern Area belt but is now looking to bounce back.
Former British, Commonwealth and European super-bantamweight champion Michael Hunter is also making a comeback on the bill that night.