Huddersfield boxer Fes Batista flies out to America on Monday bidding to resurrect his career under the tutelage of the great Roy Jones Jnr.
The 27-year-old from the Crosland Hill area was on a high after winning his first professional fight in the USA back in 2015.
But a freak broken-leg accident when he was back home in West Yorkshire put his hopes on a back-burner – until now.
After months of hard graft getting back in shape – and battling mental scars and depression from the setback – Batista is ready to undertake a three-month training camp at the Jones gym in Florida, and with the backing of Huddersfield Town.
The Premier League club have given permission for him to train and fight as Fes ‘The Terrier’ Batista .
The former Moorend High student, who is an ambassador for the World Boxing Council anti-bullying campaign, is now very much looking forward to working again in the States, fully aware it marks the start of a new journey to become a successful boxer.
“It was just the most bizarre circumstance a few years ago and it did leave me wondering why it happened to me,” said Batista, who has been training at around 160lb.
“I had just fought on the Roy Jones Jnr undercard in Pensacola, Florida, and won in front of 10,000 people, which was a huge dream and got me the attention of a lot of people over in the States.
“Even when I went back to Las Vegas, where I was training in the Floyd Mayweather gym, people were coming up to me saying well done and asking what was next.
“It was an amazing time – especially as people assumed I was from America or London rather than Huddersfield! – and even when I came back home to see my family it was still a party atmosphere and all very positive about the future.
“But then I went out for a walk one day – there are some lovely and very therapeutic walks in the countryside around where I live – and managed to slip on the doorstep as I got back home. It doesn’t sound much but, long story cut short, I literally came crashing down to earth (with a broken leg).”
Batista’s victory came against Lawrence Purifoy on March 28, 2015, when he outpointed his opponent in a four-round welterweight bout.
At that point, he had agreed a three-year contract with four-weight World champion Jones Jnr. That deal had a two-year optional extension and is due to be activated when he returns to the USA.
“I got a lot of support from everyone and from Roy Jones, too, who told me not to worry about the contract,” said Batista. who took the WBC role after being bullied at school.
“But I was basically laid up with a pot on, unable to do much at all, and it was hard to understand why it took me the longest time to recover. It was a devastating time mentally as well.
“I have overcome a lot of obstacles in my time, but this was supposed to be an ‘up’ after winning my first fight, not and ‘up’ and a ‘down’.
“But what I’ve learned from training with some of the top fighters around in the States is that, in boxing, you have to learn to keep coming back.
“Surely, after such a testing time for me, it can only be ‘up’ from here.”
So at 27, is their time for ‘The Terrier’ to bite at whichever weight division lies ahead?
“Roy Jones and his team have faith and full belief in me, and they know I’m a heavy-handed puncher,” he said.
“When I get it right, they say I have a world-class left hook and I’m a big unit and a pressure fighter and I will peak in my 30s, because my body has not had two decades of punishment.”
On the Terrier nickname, he added: “It is such an honour and it’s a great fit because, like Town, I’ve been an underdog all the way through.
“People have always said to me ‘you can don this and you can’t do that’, but I have proved them wrong by making my way in the States and, now, I want everyone to know I’ve always been proud to come from Huddersfield.
“The Town banner about having No Limits is perfect, because it’s not about the size of the dog, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog – and it’s a real honour and privilege to take that to the USA.”