'Quiet Man' cometh
Martin Gethin wondered if he'd ever box again, now he's possibly one fight from a world title shot.
By Shaun Brown - Twitter: @shaun_brown
Last Updated: 31/05/13 2:54pm
At one point in his career Martin Gethin 24-3-1 (11 KOs) wondered if he would ever box again. A niggling back injury [suffered when working on building sites] forced the 29-year-old to have an operation in 2010 and placed his career in doubt with 18 months out of the sport.
Fast forward three years and the Walsall lightweight has already exceeded his own ambitions by not only fighting for the British title but winning it - against Ben Murphy in January of this year. Gethin stands now possibly one fight away from a world title shot when he lines up, in his home town on Friday night, against Panamanian Ammeth Diaz in an eliminator for the IBF strap currently held by Miguel Vazquez.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Gethin said: "I do have to pinch myself quite a lot to be honest. I tried for ages to get a British title shot and now look how things have turned out for me. It was a massive shock when I got the [Diaz] fight. I'd have been happy had I just fought for the British title, that's what I always wanted to do in my career and I went and won it. I've got the belt on display at home and I'm always looking at it because I'm so proud to have won one. Once I beat Diaz I hope I can get a shot at Vazquez and put his belt alongside it."
Nicknamed 'The Quiet Man', Gethin's career looks like something straight out of a Hollywood screenplay. Adversity has always been there to be overcome for the father of one [with another addition on the way]. Injury, defeats and frustration made him take a long hard look at where he was going. Gethin admitted that without the continued support from his family and friends he probably would have quit boxing.
"The back injury affected me a lot," Gethin recalled.
"I had just got back into winning ways but the back problem kept coming back, especially during sparring. But I knew I had to get the operation, I had to get it done. They told me I'd be out for a certain time but I wondered how long it would take me to get back up to where I was. Then I had the doubts about whether or not I should carry on. I couldn't do nothing, I wasn't really able to move or anything. I couldn't even drive. The doctor told me I had to do little as possible to begin with. I couldn't do much at my job [as a forklift driver]. Even when I didn't have a fight, before the operation, I was still training twice a day, now I couldn't do anything. All I could do was sit and watch television."
Back to fitness
Once back to fitness, Gethin was in the ring in front of his home supporters in a low key contest against Arek Malek. That started off a six-fight winning run which culminated in his British title success. But according to Gethin, a fight against Scotland's Stuart Green proved to be a real turning point for him.
"I thought that if I could beat Green then maybe I might start to go somewhere. I stopped him in the third round but then nothing seemed to happen. Then the [Carl] Johanneson fight came about and it was supposed to be in my home town then it got moved to London. But I won and now here I am. And then when things do start moving you get a bit nervous because of the things that might happen."
Now his biggest test awaits him. Ammeth Diaz has already shared the ring with the likes of Miguel Vazquez [losing a wide unanimous decision in 2012], Joan Guzman, Ji-Hoon Kim and Souleymayne M'Baye. In fact it seems that each time the 29-year-old known as 'Cloroformo' [Spanish for Chloroform] has stepped up in class he has bitten off more than he can chew. Gethin is fully aware that Diaz represents a massive step, for himself, to the big league but he's prepared to fight whichever way necessary to achieve what at one point seemed an impossible dream.
"Diaz has been at a high level. It looks like I'm going to have to be on top of this guy from the opening round and put him out of his comfort zone. I've gotta be quick from the first bell in this one. It seems like he goes for a knockout in the first four rounds then he starts to slow down. It could end up being a war but it will all depend on how he turns up. But I've got the crowd behind me and it's always good having a home advantage because it gives you that extra push in the later rounds."
And Gethin revealed he was looking to pick up some tips from Britain's leading fighter, Carl Froch, when he watched 'The Cobra' defeat Mikkel Kessler in their much talked about rematch in the late hours of last Saturday night.
"It was brilliant to watch. I was actually watching him [Froch] and trying to learn a few things off him. The way he went about things throughout the fight. He worked his way off the jab and walked through the shots from that big Dane and that's what I'm looking to do against Diaz."
Gethin is taking it one fight at a time and refuses to get ahead of himself. When he's been alone with his thoughts he hasn't dreamt about what it might be like to join Britain's four other world champions. He's enjoyed all of the interviews, the public workouts and daily attention that this fight has brought but has never lost focus on the job in hand.
Martin Gethin remains the same family man, humble man and quiet man that wondered if he'd ever fight again.