Neil Haddock (b. 1964) was a talented amateur who overcame a woeful start to his professional career to reach unexpected heights.
The Llanelli man won silver for Wales at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, losing to Canada’s Asif Dar in the final.
There were high hopes when Haddock turned professional in 1987, but he lost his first two bouts, and would win just seven of 17 through to 1990.
In the final fight of that sequence he ran into Steve Robinson at Cardiff’s Star Leisure Centre. Future ‘Cinderella Man’ Robinson opened up a bad cut around his opponent’s eye, leading to the fight being stopped in the ninth.
The injury kept Haddock out for a year, but when he returned he had dropped a weight to super-featherweight and there he would prove to be a much fitter, sharper operator.
After two wins on the comeback trail, Haddock was pitched into a return against Robinson at Llanelli’s Bulls Centre. The local man gained sweet revenge over Robinson with a 10-round points win that also secured him the Welsh Area title.
Next up was a shot at Michael Armstrong’s British super-featherweight title, and Haddock would again claim the glory, this time with a sixth-round stoppage victory.
Three more wins followed – including one on the undercard of Lennox Lewis v Frank Bruno at Cardiff Arms Park – before Haddock defended his British belt against Swansea’s former British champion Floyd Havard at the Star Leisure Centre.
In a bad night for the west side of the cross-Loughor, Swansea-Llanelli rivalry, Havard claimed the title when Haddock’s cuts forced him to retire in the 10th.
The Llanelli man would fight just once more, but it would again be a major title bout.
Haddock travelled to French Guiana to challenge European super-featherweight champion Jacobin Yoma, but the title holder – and the humidity – proved too much, the Welshman falling to a sixth-round stoppage loss.