BOXING: WINTERS IS MARK-ING RING TIME; 'This Year I Have to Step Up'
Byline: EXCLUSIVE By Alex McGREEVY
MARK Winters considers himself still on probation less than year after getting married.
So his desire to achieve again in the boxing ring isn't winning him any favours at home.
The normally relaxed Winters is "cranky" and a "nightmare to live with" during his build up to fights.
But this month he's been particularly annoying to be around - because on February 1 the former British champion knows he's starting a make-or-break year in his career.
Winters, had he stuck to his day job of training fitness enthusiasts at the Hilton Hotel, would not have been lambasted for doing so considering the mental torture he has had to endure since his British title fight against Carl Wright in 1997.
Wright, who was defeated by the Antrim-born fighter in a tussle for the light-welterweight belt, later collapsed. He was paralysed on one side of his body and is still living with the injuries sustained in that fight.
Winters considered quitting the fight game afterwards and although he stayed away for almost two years, suffered himself as his ranking slipped down the ladder.
"There were people around me, friends and family, who always reminded me that I was good enough to continue fighting. I always kept fit but I did go out and enjoy life while I wasn't fighting."
Such was his enjoyment of life, Winters' weight game brought him up to 14 stone.
But he grew tired of not fighting.
"I once thought that it was good to be out of boxing. Then I was missing it and had an urge to get back into the ring. I was motivated by watching guys who I had fought again progress. I wanted to be part of it and I knew I had the ability to prove myself again."
Having won the British title and defended it once, Winters could achieve ownership of the Lonsdale belt if he hits top grade again in Britain.
That is his immediate goal.
"I didn't return to boxing to earn a few quid, I came back for titles," he added.
"I have a full-time job and could happily do that, but I can't keep down to desire to win again. …