Former two-weight world champion Steve Collins has paid a glowing tribute to Scarborough’s sporting hero Paul Ingle after the pair were honoured by the WBC.
The Celtic Warrior was at the Paul Ingle Boxing Academy in Hull as both were handed their coveted Ambassador’s Award by David Walker of the WBC to honour their achievements in boxing.
Collins told The Scarborough News: “Paul was still improving when he suffered his injuries, he would have gone down as one of the best if he hadn’t had to retire.
“It was so unfortunate what happened to him, but he’s showed what a fighter he is since and hasn’t whinged and moaned about it.
“He’s been through the mill and every day was a battle for him, but thank God he’s got his faculties and he’s still sharp. That’s the important thing.
“He was in great spirits, and that’s what I’ve always admired about Paul.
“He absolutely deserves to be honoured.
“Paul hadn’t reached his potential yet and had still become a world champion, and even more impressively fought at the Olympics.”
Collins, who beat both Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank twice, believes Ingle would have beaten Prince Naseem Hamed had the pair met for their mooted rematch had the Yorkshire Hunter not been injured against Mbulelo Botile in Sheffield.
Collins added: “If he’d have fought Naz again, he’d have taken him out.
“Ingle was still improving when he took him on the first time and I think he surprised Naz with how tough and determined he was.”
The Irish legend also recalls commentating on Ingle’s superb win against Junior Jones at Madison Square Gardens in New York, even having to save the day after the power went out in the media section.
“I commentated on Ingle’s fight against Junior Jones in New York and the lights went off in the press area.
“I was a qualified electrician over in America at the time and I rushed down and fixed it and saved all the reporters on that night.”
Collins was impressed with what he saw after he’d finished repairing the electrics at the Garden as Ingle went on to put in his career best performance to beat Jones.
Collins added: “His performance that night was typical Ingle. He was a fighting machine and from the moment the bell rang to the end of the fight he wouldn’t stop.
Ingle was surprised to receive the honour, he said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been given the WBC belt, it’s brilliant news.
“I’m really surprised, it’s an honour and to be given the belt by a legend in Steve just made it even better.
“I won the IBF and IBO belts and I challenged for the WBC when I fought Naz, and I was going to fight Naz again for it after the Botile fight.
“I would’ve been fighting Naz in an all Yorkshire showdown next, I’d have put up my IBF and IBO belts and he’d have brought his too.
“I have absolutely no doubts that I’d have beaten him, I worked him out from the first fight.
“I sussed his style and I would have stopped him earlier than he stopped me in the first fight.”
“I have to say a big thank you to Sonny Pollard for standing by me and helping to sort this honour out.
“I’d also like to thank the WBC, I’m honoured to have been given this recognition.”
Walker, representing the WBC, was delighted to be able to present Ingle and Collins with their honours.
He said: “Paul is a national treasure. He won three WBC affiliated championship titles, British, Commonwealth and European and he went on to world honours and fought the best of his generation.
“He represented his country at the Olympics and is one of the bravest fighters this country ever produced.
“It was good to see him looking so well and happy.
“The WBC are proud to honour Paul.”
Academy owner and Paul’s friend Sonny Pollard added: “I’m delighted for Paul. He looked very emotional.”