AN untimely shoulder injury has kept Dean Mikelj out of the ring for longer than expected.
With the rehabilitation process now well and truly behind him, the former Australian middleweight title challenger begins his road back, starting with Brisbane-based prospect Sam Banney at Fortitude Stadium on Saturday night.
“I’ve been out of action for a bit because I’ve been recovering from shoulder surgery,” said Mikelj. “It’s been eighteen months since I fought Dwight Ritchie for the Australian title and got a labral tear in my shoulder.”
“I’ve been concentrating on rehab and it’s only just come good now, so I’m ready to go.”
Like any athlete that is battling injury or illness, Mikelj (11-2, 9 KOs) has had a difficult time coordinating any kind of schedule. With that in mind, the hard-hitting Mikelj is seeing his career as a fight-by-fight proposition.
But if there was one fight he could seek out, it would be a trilogy bout with Dwight Ritchie. The 34-year-old has only lost twice – both at the hands of Ritchie – who convincingly outpointed Mikelj on both occasions.
“Going forward, I’m not sure what I have planned to honest,” he admitted. “I am just going to take it one fight at a time. I don’t have any real plans but I’d like to fight Dwight Ritchie again,”
“I’ve fought him twice – and he has beaten me twice – so it’s probably right to walk away from that one. If we had one apiece well it would be fair to have a third one. But he has beaten me twice,”
“And he had beaten me better the second time around.”
In the meanwhile, Mikelj will focus one the task at hand and will look to put on an impressive display against Banney. Despite his recent inactivity, Mikelj is happy to be thrown back in against a live opponent.
“Sam is going to be a really go test to come back with,” acknowledged Mikelj. “He is fast and very flashy. I don’t know what to really expect on the night to be honest. I’m going to go out there and put the pressure on,”
“I hope to land a couple of good shots and finish it. That’s my plan.”
“I’ve been out for so long, but I’ve been doing rehab and training right through. I’m fit; I’m ready to go. I don’t think the lay off will make much of a difference. The shoulder is great now. It’s one hundred percent.”
While Mikelj wouldn’t give us an exact prediction, he admitted that it is unlikely to go the distance.
“I don’t think the fight goes the distance,” he concluded. “I hope to finish this fight within the six rounds.”
Photo: Marty Camilleri/Marty’s Knockout Photography