Gary Lockett (b. 1976) knew both the highs and the lows in his 12-year professional career, winning considerable success at domestic level but falling short when he stepped up to the world stage.
‘The Rocket’ built considerable momentum in his early career, his knock-out power lauded as he won his first 16 fights, all but three by stoppage.
That set him up as the chief support act for Joe Calzaghe v Charles Brewer at the Cardiff International Arena in April 2002, but it turned into a car crash of a night for the Cwmbran man.
Lockett was matched against Yuri Tsarenka, but would later claim that he was weight-weakened going into the light-middleweight bout and that he hurt both hands in the course of the fight.
The fight went the distance and the Welshman only lost a split decision, but a look at the two fighters at the end of the bout left little doubt about the victor.
The Belarus man was unmarked, whilst Lockett’s two eyes were bruised and closed, and his cuts would need 40 stitches.
The bloodied Welshman took seven months out and moved up to middleweight, slowly regrouping and getting back on the winning trail.
In May 2003 he banished any remaining demons with a sweet revenge win over Tsarenka, and by 2006 his impressive form had won Lockett a shot at the vacant WBU title.
Gilbert Eastman stood in his way, but ‘the Rocket’ blew him away within a round.
Four more wins followed, the most impressive being a comprehensive points victory over Ryan Rhodes.
Lockett’s impressive record now showed 30 wins from his 31 fights, but few expected the scale of the world title fight that now opened up to him.
At this time Kelly Pavlik was regarded as boxing’s next ‘big thing’, an undefeated, big-hitting, crowd-pleasing middleweight who had claimed the WBO and WBC titles with a stunning stoppage of Jermain Taylor.
After a successful rematch against Taylor, Pavlik scheduled his first defence for the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, in June 2008.
Lockett seemed a good gateway to the super-middleweight great, and the match against Pavlik was made.
The Cwmbran man travelled to the US’s east coast as a huge underdog, and the scale of the occasion would prove too much.
He was sent to the canvas three times, before Enzo Calzaghe stopped the fight in the third.
Lockett admitted that he had always seen boxing as a profession rather than a passion, and he retired after the Pavlik defeat.
He has stayed in the game, though, and made a very impressive start to his career as a trainer and manager.