THERE are stark reminders of just how hard a sport boxing can be. Jose Zepeda, a world level fighter, shook with pain as he tried, ever so slowly, to ease his way out of the ring. He had dislocated his shoulder, the bone pressing out pale against the skin, and his July attempt to win the WBO lightweight title was over. Just like that Terry Flanagan was the new champion, the first English lightweight world titlist, a historic achievement in strange circumstance that came almost too quickly.

“It means a lot to be known as the first ever English lightweight world champion, to go down in the history books it means an awful lot to me. Now I’m starting to earn better money, give my family a better life, it means an awful lot,” Flanagan said. “I knew the way the fight was going and I knew what was going to happen. I know deep down I’m a world champion.”

The going will only get harder for Flanagan. His first defence of his new title sees him take on America’s Diego Magdaleno in Manchester on Saturday (October 10). “It’s tough. Boxing is tough, it’s a tough sport but every fight, from my first fight to my 28th, I don’t take any fight lightly. I’ve trained hard, I’ve conditioned myself, I’ve trained like a machine. I know it’s going to be a hard night but it’s a night I think I’m going to come out of victorious, in front of my home crowd in Manchester and put on a show, a good performance, my best performance yet,” Terry said.

Magdaleno is a quality opponent. He’s only lost once, a split decision against Roman Martinez in Macau but the American has subsequently moved up a weight division and joined trainer Joel Diaz. Diego is adamant that these changes will make all the difference.

“I can adapt very well inside the ring. I can fight, I can box, I can put guys down. I’ve gone the distance several times. I’m a well rounded fighter and that’s what I bring to the table.

I know what I’m going after. I’ve had my mind set on the world title since I was kid, when I started boxing. Now I’m here I’ve got nothing to lose and all to gain,” Magdaleno said.

He respects Flanagan but insists, “He can fight, he can punch, he can do it all, but I honestly don’t think it’s enough for me. For me I’m fighting with everything I know, with pride. I bring it all. This is going to be a great fight I believe.”

The Manchester bill also features another Englishman, Liam Smith taking on an American for world honours. Meet the intriguing John Thompson, who boxes the Liverpudlian for the WBO super-welterweight crown, HERE.