Exclusive: Niall Farrell rejuvenated following ring return, targets Commonwealth homecoming

The Team GB boxer opens up on returning to the ring for the first time in three years, this summer's Olympics in Tokyo and his Commonwealth homecoming next year.

Niall Farrell has admitted he was unsure as to whether he would compete again inside the squared circle.

Multiple operations to a tendon injury on his right hand left the Team GB star out of action for three years.

Farrell admitted he fought through the pain for years and would feel the 'bone go through' his hand when landing a glove to his opponent.

Despite a split tendon and a hole through his knuckle, the Birmingham fighter still managed to rack up more than 40 amateur bouts in the process - climbing into the world's top 10 as well as winning silver at the European Championships in 2017 in the process.

After making a full recovery, Farrell is now back on track and recently made his highly-anticipated return to the ring last month in Lithuania.

While he was unable to beat Wales' Billy Unsworth for gold in the final, it was a huge step in the right direction for Farrell.

"You've just got the roll with it," Farrell said when talking to Planet Sport about becoming a father in the same month as his boxing comeback.

"Life isn't planned out, you can plan it out as much as you want but if it goes to plan then that's a different story.

"Everything's been all good though, I've just been training loads and ticking over - you can only do so much. I was looking to get back out as soon as possible but there's literally nothing coming up, there's no tournaments or nothing.

"Definitely," Farrell replied when asked if his recent trip to Lithuania was a good experience despite not winning top honours.

"Being out of the ring for so long and then coming back, it was a lot to take in. I beat the Belgian kid [Vasile Usturoi] in the semi-finals and he was a very good kid. He recently just boxed in the European Qualifying and only lost in the qualifier.

"To be three years out of the ring and be thrown in against him, who has been very busy over the last few years, it was good. It's experience at the end of the day."

There are bigger things to await Farrell, who will compete in October's World Championships followed by the Commonwealth Games next year in Birmingham - an opportunity for the featherweight fighter to perform in front of a home crowd.

"We've got a lot of things planned: the World Championships in October and the Commonwealth Games next year. It's just about getting the fights back in again and doing something I love again. That's the best thing I love about the game - fighting.

"Being in my hometown, I'm fighting for Birmingham. That's literally what it's about and it's everyone's dream to do so. The last time I fought in England must have been about six years ago and all my supporters are literally talking to me about it and have asked when we can get tickets?

"Already there's a lot of talk about it and once the Olympics are out the way then it'll be about the World and the Commonwealth. It's really exciting to be a part of it and I'm designing the kit that we're going to wear (for the Commonwealth).

"It's been hard with the Olympics being pushed back because obviously if it happened then it'd be over like a year ago but it'll be good and I'm looking forward to it. It'll be a home show, I'll have thousands there - me alone I'm going to be selling it out, the amount of people who will want to come," Farrell added.

Heavyweight hope proves anything is possible

Farrell - who is 'no rush' to turn over as a professional - may not be able to compete at this year's Olympics but there is a chance he will go as a sparring partner.

Watching on from the sidelines this week, he supported the Team GB squad and witnessed 11 members qualify for the summer event in Paris.

Frazer Clarke, Peter McGrail, Pat McCormack and Galal Yafai were some of the names to progress, something which left Farrell delighted.

"They've smashed it and made the country proud. Eleven have qualified and it's nice to see. I'm training with these lads all the time, they're good people and I can see the work they put in so it's nice to see.

"It was very unlucky for Lewis Richardson - the 75kg fighter who didn't qualify - but he had a very hard task. At the end of the day, it's all experience. The best thing about this game is experience, you never lose, you just learn from it. That's the big thing about this sport."

Farrell was also full of praise for Cheavon Clarke, who will also represent Team GB at heavyweight (91kg).

"Chev literally shows that if you put your mind to it anything can happen. It really does because to go from literally five years ago driving trucks to being an Olympian - how can that not inspire you?

Cheavon Clarke will represent Team GB this summer in Tokyo
Cheavon Clarke will represent Team GB this summer in Tokyo

"A lot of people probably would have doubted him but obviously they didn't realise how far he could go. He trains really hard, he deserves it he really does," Farrell continued.

"It's the same with Charley Davison. She came back from a seven-year layoff and she's an Olympian. The whole squad shows everyone else - boxers and non-boxers - if you work hard anything can happen."

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