DAVID Dolan was today handed the chance of putting two years of bad luck behind him with a dream fight at his beloved Stadium of Light.
The Sunderland cruiserweight will take on talented former Prizefighter champion Jon Lewis Dickinson on Sunday, July 3.
The Northern Area cruiserweight belt will be the prize on the line in this blockbuster of a North-East derby.
But for Dolan it is the opportunity to move his career back into the fast lane following set-back after set-back.
“It’s going to be a great fight,” said the 31-year-old. “And to be at the Stadium of Light just makes it even more special.”
Dolan’s misfortune began when he failed in bids for the British and Commonwealth titles.
He suffered a controversial points defeat to Rob Norton in their first meeting – even though Dolan had floored the Midlander three times.
And Team Dolan were left seething when the re-match in Altrincham ended in a draw, allowing Norton to keep possession of both belts.
It was hoped the former Commonwealth Games gold medallist would earn his first pro crown last December when Phil Jeffries staged a crack for the English championship at Houghton-le-Spring.
But it ended in disaster for Dolan, who tore a bicep in his right arm and retired after six rounds against veteran Londoner Terry Dunstan.
That painful defeat, both mental and physical, put a significant question mark over Dolan’s future.
However, the Wearsider – trained in Hartlepool by Neil Fannan – is back, he’s fighting fit and raring to go.
“It’s an exciting fight and I can’t wait,” said Dolan.
“I feel I’ve had a bit bad luck with decisions and then what happened against Dunstan was unbelievable.
“It wasn’t much of a fight and I couldn’t compete with one arm.
“But this is a good chance to put all that behind me.
“Jon Lewis will be feeling the same – he’s had his own bad luck with injuries.
“He broke his jaw in his last fight and the one before that he got stopped with a black eye.
“It’s a great opportunity for both of us and given the local rivalry and the fact it’s at the Stadium of Light just makes it an even better occasion.”
Dolan said he is full of respect for the 25-year-old from Birtley, who he says he is friendly with even if they are not close pals.
“I like Jon Lewis and we’ve sparred a bit before,” he said. “He’s a good boxer and I think this has the makings of a cracking fight.
“I’ve sparred three times since coming back from injury and I feel good.”
Dolan v Dickinson will top a bill featuring a wealth of local fight stars, including Paul Archer, Peter Cope, Gary Fox and Martin Ward, who takes on former European bantamweight champion Ian Napa.
Promoter Phil Jeffries is delighted to have secured the title fight to top his Summer Rumble bill.
He said: “This is the biggest fight between North East fighters since Dave Garside fought Glenn McCrory in 1986.
“There will be big interest in this one and it’s like a British title eliminator.
“To get David - who won the British title as far as I’m concerned - against the Prizefighter winner is a top bout.”
Jeffries - dad and manager of 2008 Olympic medalist Tony - is also pleased with the venue.
“We had our Christmas show at Rainton Meadows Arena but we couldn’t get the date we wanted there this time and Gary Hutchinson at Sunderland AFC has been a diamond.
“He’s very busy right now with the Take That and Kings of Leon concerts coming up, but he made time for us and made this show happen.
“There’s been massive interest in this show. I’ve had every pro boxer in the North East on the phone trying to get on the bill.”
East Rainton’s Martin Ward is the main support on the bill and has been matched against former European bantamweight champion Ian Napa.
Tickets go on sale on Monday priced £30 and are available from Phil Jeffries by calling 0191 564 0202.