Gilfach Goch’s Neil Swain was a talented boxer whose reputation as a bad boy followed him from the amateur to the professional ranks and beyond.
As an amateur he was banned for bad behaviour during a Wales trip to Bavaria.
He turned professional in 1993 under Dai Gardiner where – despite his obvious talent – nothing would come easy to him.
Swain suffered a number of early losses, but these included some poor decisions, and the defeats were against good quality opposition.
Gardiner is known for matching his youngsters hard and, after just seven months as a pro, Swain – in just his fifth fight – went in against fellow unbeaten prospect Barry Jones.
Future world champion Jones was in just his seventh fight, and he remains mystified by the match-making.
“Neil Swain was a horrible fighter,” Jones told the Live Fight.com website. “Horrible, awkward, style. He was a southpaw who had very long arms. He was only 5ft 5ins, yet his reach was something like 6ft 5ins!
“I’d sparred him before so I knew he was going to be tricky. It was a close fight that I edged [on points over six].
“The thing that I couldn’t understand was we were both undefeated Welsh fighters – why did we even box each other? It’s a no-win situation because one of us had to lose.”
Four more losses followed in the next year, but Swain’s ability came through and a winning run from late 1994 set up an April 1995 shot at the vacant Commonwealth super-bantamweight title.
The Welshman claimed the belt in style with a second-round stoppage of Michael Parris.
He gave up the title out of the ring, and his winning run was halted by a points loss to Anton Gilmore in South Africa.
Swain returned home for another shot at the vacant Commonwealth belt, reclaiming his old crown with a points win over Nathan Sting.
The valleys man would only fight twice more, beating Peter Buckley before challenging Michael Brodie for the vacant British super-bantamweight title. Swain started well, but the talented Brodie rallied to stop the Welshman in the 10th.
Unfortunately Swain found more trouble soon after his retirement when he was imprisoned for assault, and he has also had problems with drugs.
“Swain was a good fighter but never trained properly,” concluded Jones. “He still nearly did a number against Michael Brodie. He was doing very well in that fight, but gassed late-on. Shame, he was capable of doing well.”