DEVASTATED Tony Jeffries faces a fresh six-month lay-off because of hand injuries.
The Sunderland super-middleweight is having surgery on both hands today in Wigan.
The 26-year-old – unbeaten as a professional but plagued by injuries – has damage to the knuckles of both forefingers and it could be at least six months before he is able to punch again.
Jeffries told the Echo: “I’ve been having trouble with my hands for a long time.
“I’ve had to put them in buckets of ice after every training session and it got to the point where the pain was so bad that it was a struggle to turn a key in the door or zip my coat.
“I tried to get on with it, but there was no way I could get another fight out of these hands the way they are.
“The capsules around the knuckles are torn and need repairing. It’s a common injury for boxers – just wear and tear, really.
“I’m off to hospital today and in some ways this is a relief because I know now what the problem is and it’s going to get fixed.”
Jeffries has had hand surgery before and bounced back positively. He is seeing private surgeon Mike Hayton at the Wrightington Hospital in Wigan.
“I went to Mike straight after my last fight and told him what was going on,” Jeffries said.
“He said me for some x-rays and an MRI scan. He says he won’t know exactly how bad the injuries are until he opens me up.
“He’s confident I’ll come back from this operation.
“I’ve got total confidence in Mike but obviously I’m absolutely gutted because I don’t seem to be getting any luck with injuries.”
This is the fifth surgery of Jeffries’ career after previously having repairs to his nose, elbow, eye and an earlier hand injury.
He is unbeaten in 10 pro contests since winning a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics in Beijing, but has only fought twice since last December.
Just before Christmas last year, he suffered a bad cut before knocking out Tommy Tolan in Belfast, an injury that needed specialist plastic surgery after the wound re-opened in training.
On September 3, Jeffries won an eight-rounder with Paul Morby comfortably on points and hoped to box again in November, but those plans now lie in ruins.