When Willie Limond climbs through the ropes to challenge Tyrone Nurse for his British light-welterweight belt in the chief support to Ricky Burns’ WBA title fight against Michele Di Rocco in Glasgow’s SSE Hydro tomorrow night, he knows he will either be ending his career or writing yet another chapter in the longest story in Scottish boxing.
Most boxers, particularly in the lighter weight classes, are not tilting for titles at the age of 37 and the Glaswegian will be the only fighter on the bill who was winning purses in the 20th century.
To put his longevity in perspective, Conor Benn, son of Nigel and one of the up-and-coming stars on the undercard, was only three years old when Limond made his professional debut, beating Lenny Hodgkins in November, 1999. Seventeen years later, Limond has had only four defeats, all of them inflicted by world champions; Alex Arthur, Amir Khan, Erik Morales and Anthony Crolla.
Following the most recent of those setbacks, when he was outpointed by Crolla, the Scot vowed that he would retire after his next loss. Five years later, he is still going strong and he will be raging against the dying of the light when he faces Nurse.
“Obviously, I don’t want to retire but the decision will be taken out of my hands if I lose on Saturday,” he said. “If he wins then it’s a long way back up. You become a stepping stone for others. I’m not interested in that. I am still performing in the gym and I believe I can produce a career-best performance on Saturday.
“This is my job. I have to make a living. I still have the appetite for boxing. I’ve actually surprised myself a little bit with just how good a shape I’ve got myself in to.
“I’m not going to lie, at times it’s been hard going. Boxing can wear you down if you allow it and I could have chucked it after the last British title fight. I wanted big fights after that but they never came and here we are again
“You have to accept the hand you’ve been dealt but I believe I belong at this level. I’ve been lucky to be involved in some big fights, I’ve had the privilege of fighting Erik Morales in Mexico in front of 56,000 fans, Alex Arthur, Crolla, you name it. Things have always gone against me but, maybe this time, they will go for me.”
Limond is a former Commonwealth lightweight champion and he also previously held the British and Commonwealth belts at 140lbs.
“This is a tough fight,” he admitted. “Nurse is a good fighter and a big, rangy guy. I know I’m up against it but I’m confident I have the goods to beat him.”