Dean Dodge has hauled himself up from “the dirt” to the brink of a shot at the Southern Area championship.
Promoter Mo Prior expects the Wellsprings Leisure Centre in Taunton to be packed on Friday, February 21 when he brings professional boxing back to the town after a 24-year break – and many will be there sheering on Dodge.
The 26 year old is from Yeovil, around half an hour’s drive from the venue, and has built a following with his thoughtful aggression in his nine-fight pro career.
He’s come through a couple of decent tests already, stopping both Nathan Kirk and Lee Connelly, and in Sean Davis. He faces a step up in class.
Davis is a former English champion and British-title challenger – and Dodge believes beating him could lead to a Southern Area title shot, possibly at super-featherweight. Fighting for the belt would cap a massive turnaround for Dodge.
“I’ve told myself: ‘2020 will be my year,” he said. “I have had my ups and downs and there have been times when I thought about packing up.
“There was a medical query when I turned pro that took time to sort out and I’ve been homeless. I was renting a place with a mate of mine and he dropped me in it by joining the navy.
“I couldn’t afford the rent and ended up sleeping in my car. There was another time when I hadto stay with my sister in Windsor because I had nowhere to stay.
“I have come up from the dirt to get where I am and after this, I’m looking for a shot at the Southern Area title.
“I see this fight as a stepping stone. I don’t want to be waiting around. I have proved myself by getting some good wins and this is my time. I see super-featherweights who haven’t fought the people I’ve fought getting opportunities and if I beat Davis, I want my shot.”
The news that Prior is planning four shows in Taunton this year is great news for Dodge, who’s sponsored by Penmill Scaffolding.Also, Paragon Cleaning Services, Camelot Builders and Tomahawk Doors Ltd.
He hopes fans will get behind him as he looks to climb the rankings – but admits he thought his career was over before it even began.
“There was a query over my brain scan,” said Dodge, “and luckily enough, I met a girl on a dating website who was a neurologist.
“She fought my case for me and even helped me pay for my medicals. Things didn’t work out between us, but we’ve stayed friends and meeting her at that time has made me think boxing is my destiny.”