Shayne Singleton was just a number the last time he experienced boxing at the Manchester Arena.
The former English 140lb champion was buried among thousands of spectators to witness Ricky Hatton’s chaotic victory over Stephen Smith in 2002, as the “Hitman” defended his WBU (World Boxing Union) title for the seventh time.
Singleton, a teenager at the time and learning the ropes as an amateur at Sandygate ABC, recalled the moment in the second round when Smith’s father and trainer, Darkie, stormed into the ring to remonstrate with referee Mickey Vann about a cut that his son had sustained.
“I loved Hatton as a kid,” said the 26-year-old, who trains under Karl Ince.
“He was one of my idols. I went to watch him a couple of times, but the fight against Stephen Smith definitely stands out.
“I remember his dad storming into the ring to get at the referee and Hatton won by disqualification.”
Singleton won’t be a statistic the next time he steps in to the arena, though.
In fact, thousands of eyes will be on him as he takes centre stage on the undercard of Anthony Crolla’s WBA World lightweight title defence against Ismael Barroso on May 7th.
“To follow in the footsteps of my idol is pretty special,” he said.
“I’m over the moon with this. Starting out as a professional I’d never even dreamt about fighting at a venue like this because you never think it’s going to happen. I’d never even contemplated it but I’ve grafted for this opportunity.
“It’s a measure of how far I’ve come and what I’ve had to put in to it to get here. I’ll have gone from fighting in front of hundreds at Colne Muni to fighting in front of thousands at the Manchester Arena.
“Some people get these opportunities early in their careers depending on the pedigree of their amateur days and who they sign with.
“It’s taken some time for me but I’ve plodded on and kept going, even though I’ve sometimes questioned whether it’s worth it.
“It was good while it lasted but I’m stepping up on to the bigger stage now. This is brilliant. It’s amazing that it’s happening. I’m so happy that I’ve got this chance. It’s not properly sunk in yet.”
Negotiations are currently on going between Singleton’s manager Steve Wood and Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn to make a fight with Dale Evans happen.
It is also believed that BoxNation’s Frank Warren has also expressed an interest in Singleton taking on new British and Commonwealth champion Bradley Skeete in the near future.
“I had an agreement with Eddie Hearn that I would fight on his bill so that’s what I’ll do first,” said Singleton, who will train twice a day, six days a week in readiness. “We had an agreement and I’m a man of my word. I know what it’s like to be let down and I wouldn’t want to do it to anybody else.
“Potentially I could just bypass this and fight Skeete but I won’t be turning down the opportunity to fight on an Anthony Crolla undercard at the Manchester Arena. This is massive.”
Anybody wanting to purchase tickets for tomorrow’s show can contact Shayne on 07857 476485.
Shayne would also like to thank Wellocks, Bounceback Safety Surfaces, Mancini Menswear and AJ Wood Ltd for their continued sponsorship and support.