WARREN Baister hopes to go from nearly man to golden boy after being named by England for 2014 Commonwealth Games, writes Roy Kelly.
The Sunderland fighter is the top domestic heavyweight, having won the ABA Championship in April and holds the number one ranking in Great Britain in the Boxing News rankings.
Internationally, Baister has fought with great distinction – and a little bit of bad luck – having lost to leading Russians at the European and World Championships.
Now the 28-year-old hopes that the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next month will see an end to his wait for a medal.
“I’ve been happy with my form, especially considering I was out for 13-14 months with a bad injury,” he told the Echo.
“I went straight into the Europeans and was drawn against the gold medallist
“Then, in the Worlds, I thought I’d done enough to win (against Evgeny Tischenko).
“But he was a talented lad and he went on to get the silver medal.
“Those fights have given me a lot of confidence
“It’s horrible to lose, but I know in the back of my mind that I’ve only been beaten by the best and I’ve given a good show.
“I’ve dusted myself off after those defeats and come back to win the ABAs pretty well.
“After all that’s happened with injury and then those close defeats, it’s a relief to have been picked for a big championship like this. I want to push on, go to Glasgow and give it everything I’ve got and see what I can do.
“I’d be very disappointed if I didn’t make the final.”
Baister says he is “flying”, having come through an injury scare at the ABAs.
While he won in style against London southpaw James Branch, success came at a price – he finished the event at Liverpool’s Echo Arena needing 13 stitches in an eye wound.
It required a month off, but there was never a danger of missing the Commonwealths.
“It’s strong enough, it’s not a worry,” explained the Wearsider.
“I’ve been sparring the last two weeks, with Lawrence Osueke and Frazer Clarke, and there have been no problems.
“I needed 13 stitches, five inside and eight outside.
“It was a pretty bad cut, but it has healed totally.
“I’m flying at the moment.
“Yesterday, we did all our fitness tests on the track and I beat all my scores.
“I feel really good.”
Baister is joined in an eight-strong men’s team by Birtley lightweight Pat McCormack, while Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall, the reigning world champion, will compete in the Commonwealth Games’ first ever women’s boxing event alongside Olympic champion Nicola Adams.