Joe makes triumphant return

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AS comebacks go it was up there with the best.

Despite a 10-year absence from boxing, big Joe Paladino's return to the ring saw the 41-year-old cruise to an emphatic three-round victory over Blackpool's Dave Clark on Sunday night.

The former pro fighter and St Helens Town goalkeeper said: "Everything about it I enjoyed. The atmosphere was unbelievable and as soon as I landed that first jab I felt great.

"I was talking to the crowd, the judges and to him. I was so laid back I was in danger of knocking myself out. I was like a kitten playing with a ball of wool. He didn't lay a glove on me."

Clark is a veteran of 35 pro fights – fighting the likes of British champ Matt Skelton – but that didn't stop a fired up Joe.

The judges' verdict was unanimous in awarding the fight to the ex-Wigan Athletic shot-stopper who managed St Helens Town after initially retiring from the ring.

The fight, which took place in front of a 600-strong crowd at Club Isis in Liverpool was unlicensed and 6ft 6" and 20-stone Joe is looking forward to more battles with some of boxing's toughest fighters.

He added: "In the ring the rules are exactly the same but there are a lot of hard men involved in this game. All boxers are hard but this lot are your more traditional fighter.

"Now I have got that hunger back and this is more my type of thing. I knew I was going to win and to be honest was showboating a little but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't even sweat!"

Joe, who runs the Coliseum gym and Kay's Fitness on Sutton Road, will now fight Micky German at the Preston Guild Hall on December 14.

The father-of-four, who originally quit boxing in 1997, fought a series of highly-rated fighters during his pro career including Herbie Hide, Julian Francis and Kevin McBride.

It was his recent sparring match with heavyweight champ and Mike Tyson conqueror Danny Williams that convinced him that the time was right to get the gloves back on.

He also has one eye on a British title fight and the other on a shot at the world belt, known as The Guv'nor Title.

There is also a fight in his hometown in the pipeline while Joe revealed that his comeback was in memory of his wife Kay who passed away four years ago this February.

He added: "It was emotional for me because when I used to fight, Kay was always there so I thought I'm going to do it for her and for the kids."