Kerry Hope (b. 1981) was a hard-working, determined fighter whose career seemed hounded by bad luck… until he seized an unlikely chance to win the European middleweight title.
The Merthyr southpaw came late to the professional game, not having his first fight until the age of 23 in 2005.
After winning the first 11 fights of his career, things began to go wrong for Hope in 2008. In March he was stopped in eight rounds by Matthew Hall – his first professional defeat – then, in November, he missed out on a dream appearance at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Calzaghe v Roy Jones Jr when his opponent failed to make the weight.
After Calzaghe retired, Hope was lined up as a key figure in the Calzaghe Promotions venture and was the headline act in his home town in February 2009.
He faced Taz Jones for the vacant Welsh Area light-middleweight belt at Rhydycar Leisure Centre, but suffered a bad cut from a clash of heads in the second and was stopped in the fourth.
The Merthyr man split from Enzo Calzaghe and made the headlines with an unexpected move to California, where he worked with Golden Boy Promotions and sparred at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym.
After a win and a loss in the States, Hope returned home where he enjoyed a four-fight winning streak that propelled him into a European shot against Poland’s highly rated Grzegorz Proksa.
The champion under-estimated the Welshman who ruffled him from the outset, cutting him above the eye in the second after a clash of heads. Hope had a point deducted because of his use of the head in the eighth, but the challenger did enough to hang on and claim a majority decision.
A rematch was ordered, where Proksa was determined not to make the same mistake. This time, he cut Hope above the eye in the first round, before going on to stop the Welshman in the eighth.