Boxer continuing comeback

By Brian Smiley, Brantford Expositor

After shaking off some rust, Darren Fletcher is ready for his next bout in the boxing ring.
Fletcher recently returned to the ring after a few years off, earning a draw in December against Stephen Clement in New Brunswick. Next up for the 31-year-old Bell City Boxing Club member is a six-round fight against Orangeville’s Jay Alexander on Saturday at the Hershey Centre.
“I feel very confident,” Fletcher said. “I’ve had a really good training camp this time. I put in a lot of hard work.
“I’ve never had this much sparring or this type of sparring getting ready for a fight.”
In fact, in the past six months, Fletcher has put in more work than he did in the previous five years.
A late comer to the sweet science, Fletcher didn’t take up the sport until he was 19 and a friend invited him to a class at the Black Eye Boxing Club. He got right into it, compiling a 17-7 amateur record while going 9-1 at one point.
Fletcher then turned pro and went 1-4 before life got too busy to keep boxing. But after about five years away, he decided it was time to get back in shape.
“I honestly didn’t have the time and then for the longest time I said, ‘I’m going to go back, I’m going to go back,’” said Fletcher. “I just kept putting it off.
“One day last year I just decided I had to get healthy again. I started eating healthy and I started running six miles a day. Then I ran into Bill (Williams) and he had told me he had moved back and opened up another gym.”
Bill Williams was a long-time coach at the Black Eye Boxing Club before moving out east to be closer to some of his family. He returned to Brantford this past summer and opened up Bell City.
He and Fletcher got right to work and within two weeks, the two were back in the pro game as they prepared for the fight against Clement.
Williams said Fletcher’s bout out east went better than the result showed.
“I think Darren won it,” said Williams. “Darren knocked him down in the first round. I was surprised Clement got up.
“The second round, I thought (Darren slipped) but they ruled it a knockdown and that evened the fight up.
“I thought Darren won the third round and in the fourth round, Darren broke the guy’s nose and had him pretty messed up. He had him hurt a couple of times.”
Although not happy with the decision, Fletcher was pleased with his performance, especially considering it was his first fight since 2012 and for Clement (3-3-1) it was his third of of the year.
“Personally I felt like I had done enough to get the win,” he said. “With it being (against) the hometown guy, I knew I had to go out and put on a good show.
“I guess in the judges’ eyes it wasn’t enough.”
Then came the call to fight Alexander, who has won his past two fights after losing his first three. Alexander will come down in weight to fight Fletcher at 175 pounds while Fletcher is moving up from 170.
In preparation for the bout, the six-foot-four Fletcher has sparred with Canadian super welterweight champion Kevin Higson and Jessie Wilcox, who was undefeated in his amateur career.
“It’s been a great training camp,” Williams said. “He has over 40 rounds of sparring in. He’s strong and he’s fast.
“I feel good in what I’ve seen. He’s had eight weeks ... but you never know in the fight game. Anything can change with one punch.
“It will be a good fight.”
Fletcher feels he’s in good shape to mix it up with the five-foot-10 Alexander. And after that, he has a tentative rematch against Clement set for May out east and another fight in Ancaster in June.
As long as things go smoothly, Fletcher sees himself in the ring for a while.
“I’ve still got a good four or five years left in me to get some fights in and make some money out of this,” he said.