Friday, December 2, 2022

Editor’s Letter: Mark Potter was so much more than a “nearly man”

IT WAS virtually one of many unlikeliest coronations in British heavyweight championship historical past when Mark Potter got here so near defeating Danny Williams in an unforgettable encounter in October, 2000.

On that evening contained in the Wembley Convention Centre, with Williams’ proper arm dangling from his dislocated shoulder, Potter pressed his benefit earlier than Danny – in a efficiency he calls his proudest – by some means salvaged victory together with his left. It was a actually heroic turnaround from Williams and the half during which large underdog Potter performed in it can guarantee he’s by no means forgotten.

“I’ve simply acquired to do what I must do to remain alive,” Potter mentioned in Could, seven months after being instructed abdomen most cancers would kill him. “Now I’ve been instructed that I solely have three months to dwell. I’m going to beat this, and show the medics and the NHS flawed.”

Potter handed away, aged simply 47 years outdated, on the weekend. He fought to the top, smiling to his household and pals, eager for many who have been at all times by his facet to not share his agony. Potter underwent chemotherapy in an effort to lengthen his life alongside different remedy that he hoped would offer a miracle.

Potter made his debut in July 1997, outpointing J A Bugner over six rounds on the undercard of Naseem Hamed’s victory over Juan Gerardo Cabrera. Additionally on that Frank Warren-promoted invoice was Dean Francis, the uber-talented fighter who misplaced his life to most cancers 4 years in the past. Like Potter, Francis valiantly scrapped for survival towards probably the most formidable and unforgiving opponent of all of them.

Matt Legg, who campaigned at heavyweight from 2001-2014, has fond recollections of his time with Potter. “We used to spar and, being the gentleman that he’s, he took it simple on me as a result of I was a model new professional,” he remembered. “He mentioned we’ll go tip-tap, which I was grateful for. It was an honour to share the ring with him.”

Danny Williams and Mark Potter throughout their British and Commonwealth heavyweight title combat at Wembley on October 22, 2000 (John Gichigi/ALLSPORT)

Potter – generally known as “The White Shark” – compiled an official report of 21-5 (14). He defeated Danny Watts to raise the Southern Space heavyweight title in March 2003, a victory that successfully secured his shot at Williams, 5 months later. Although he ‘retired’ following a loss to Michael Sprott in 2003, Potter competed in MMA and was a eager advocate of the unlicenced boxing circuit, the place he pummelled Butterbean to a stoppage defeat.

Much less well-known was Potter’s contest towards Danny Bardell in 2018. Bardell, who suffered from Down Syndrome, at all times wished to be a boxer and when Potter allowed himself to be counted out within the second spherical, he made a younger man’s goals come true.

That kindness is a theme of Potter’s life. Wayne Alexander, the previous European 154lbs champion, mentioned: “He was at all times pleasant, at all times had a smile on his face. I’ll always remember how shut he was to successful the British heavyweight title. He was at all times sort and helped me out with a favour, one which I’ll always remember.”

These sentiments have been echoed by one other former fighter, long-time buddy David Walker. “He was a powerful combating man however a true gentleman,” Walker mentioned. “He had a loving, caring coronary heart and I’ll at all times look as much as him, in some ways.”

Potter, who was a private coach up till a yr in the past, was in terrific form when the most cancers analysis got here a yr in the past. He initially presumed it was a coaching damage earlier than numbness unfold to his calves and compelled him to get checked by his GP. Anticipating to be instructed he’d overdone it within the gymnasium, he was shocked when docs instructed him he had stage 4 abdomen most cancers.

Alongside his beloved spouse, Hannah, and two youngsters, Sam and Rosie, the fighter refused to just accept it as a dying sentence. Finally, as too many realise, the easiest way to fight the illness is with an early analysis.

Frank Warren, who pays tribute to Potter at this weekend’s present on the O2, mentioned of the fighter he usually promoted: “Mark was a nice fighter and a good larger character who was concerned in lots of entertaining fights through the years and was a massively well-liked face across the combat scene, notably within the London space.

“Mark was a fighter proper to the top and by no means stopped punching – could he relaxation in peace.”

Audley Harrison, who fought Potter once they have been each on the way in which up within the novice code, wrote: “He gave me a hell of a battle within the London ABAs… Wanting again, a lot of boxers have handed in the previous couple of years. Undoubtedly makes you recognize your time right here.”

Potter was so much more than simply the person who practically beat Danny Williams. How he performed himself throughout battle towards a depraved illness, and the kindness he exuded all through his life, is testomony to that.

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