“I JUST want to fight again. Boxing is all I know.”
Those are the words of devastated Tony Jeffries as he embarks on a last-ditch attempt to save his career.
Sunderland’s Olympic medallist will undergo a painful procedure to extract red blood cells from bone marrow in his hip and inject it into his ravaged hands.
Seven months after surgery to repair holes, tears, ligament and tendon damage caused by fighting, the 27-year-old’s hands show no sign of improvement.
This latest procedure, which will take place this week, is the last resort to help his hands back to match fitness.
Speaking from Los Angeles, where he has set up his training base, Tony said: “I’ve been fighting since I was 10 years old. I’m 27 now, it’s what I know. It’s been frustrating not being able to fight.
“I could get my head around not being able to punch for a few months after surgery, but I’ll be absolutely devastated if I could never do it again.”
Tony, who fought to glory in the Beijing Olympics, had hoped to undergo the procedure earlier but, at a cost of £5,000, it wasn’t feasible. Hearing about his plight, however, a private clinic in Beverly Hills has offered to perform it for free.
The bronze medallist hasn’t fought or sparred since September last year when his hands were in such a bad condition that surgery was deemed necessary.
His prize-winning fists were in such a state that he was having to apply ice packs twice a day to alleviate the pain.
“I’ve had surgery three times in my life,” he said. “Each time you are told there’s a risk but I didn’t think too much about it. In my head, I had hoped to return to training in January.
“They said it could take up to eight months to heal but seven months on, talking to you now, I still can’t make a fist properly.”
He added: “I spoke to my initial surgeon, as someone else is doing this procedure, and he told me to go for it. It really is a last resort. Other sports stars over here have had it done, but it’s usually in the knees and elbows.
“I know it’s used to help arthritis too. I just hope it can work for me.”