By Andrew Wake: Every time Stuart Brookes walks into the gym at the Empress Ballroom in Mexborough he gets a reminder of why he’s in boxing.
A picture of his younger brother Scott, who was tragically killed in a road accident in 2008, adorns one of the walls and Brookes uses the image as a spur in this quest to become British middleweight champion.
“I just skip in front of it and think that’s he’s up there watching me,” Stuart, 12 – 0 (3 KOs), told SecondsOut.
“He’s in my corner every time I go in that ring and it just makes me more determined to do it, not just for me but also for my family and for my friends.”
Brookes spent three years away from the sport following the passing of his brother, but returned to the ring last November with a six round decision over Steve Spence. Tonight at the Doncaster Dome he engages his second comeback fight, taking on Hungary’s unbeaten Attila Tibor Nagy.
“All I know is he is unbeaten and he’s knocked two out so that says that he’s coming to win and he’ll want a fight,” Brookes said.
“Going in with an unbeaten kid gives you that edge a bit because you’ve got to be on your toes. You’ve got to keep your hands up and do everything right because if you don’t he can punish you for it.
“I’ve felt 100 per cent better in this training camp than I did for the fight last November. I feel more confident than I did before, I feel stronger, I feel faster and that’s from listening to my trainers, making a few alterations and sticking to it in sparring. Now it’s time to show what I can do.”
While he knows it would be foolish to look too far ahead, the Yorkshireman does admit to eyeing title chances in the Autumn.
Promoter Stefy Bull has promised him that, should be prevail this evening, a fight for the British Masters crown against York’s Harry Matthews will be his in September.
“They’re talking titles now and that only gets me more excited and spurs me on in the gym,” Stuart stated.
“They’ve got me Harry Matthews lined up next, but I don’t want to take my eye off this fight.
“I want to get this one out of the way and then I can concentrate on the British Masters title and Matthews.
“I think it’s a good fight for me and if I want to go anywhere I’ve got to beat fighters like that. If I can do a number on Harry Matthews and make a good impression then it should springboard me up to the next level.
“By the start of next year I want to be line for the English title. I’m 29 now, going on 30 and I feel fresh. I just want to try and make something for myself.”
The Lonsdale belt is the one title he wants to win more than any other but he admits to thinking about one day boxing under the bright lights of Las Vegas again.
Brookes lived every fighter’s dream in the summer of 2007 when he defeated Taronze Washington on the undercard of Ricky Hatton’s clash with Jose Luis Castillo at the Thomas and Mack Center and hopes to one day return to the gambling mecca.
He said: ““It was a dream to go there and it would be a dream to go back. When I was there I couldn’t believe it, it’s something no-one can take away from me and I can tell my grandkids about it. If I can get back there it would be a right bonus”.