AFTER nearly 18 months out of the ring battling a perforated ear drum, a big weight gain, and upheaval in his personal life, Keighley boxer Liam O’Reilly returned with a win on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, from Fell Lane, had previously only fought in Lancashire, but was in action down the road at The Bradford Hotel against Joe Hardy (2-11) over the weekend, recording a narrow 39-38 points victory over four rounds.

It means O’Reilly (5-0) can look forward to bigger and better things going forward, as he insisted he always knew he would fight professionally again, despite his previous fight before this being in December 2021.

He told the Keighley News: “I was buzzing to be back in the ring on Saturday and I loved every minute of it, after being out for so long.

“I had a few medical issues with my ears, as we discovered after my last fight that I had a perforated ear drum.

“I needed surgery to resolve that and obviously I had to wait a few months to have the operation done.

“There were a few things going on in my life too, but I knew I’d get back to fighting again.

“I put on about three stone after my last fight so I had to get that weight off, but I knew it’d be fine.

“I made weight easily enough for Saturday night thanks to the help of a good dietician, so there was no panic with that.”

O’Reilly admitted the result ended up being closer than he thought, saying: “My coach felt I’d won every round so we were a bit shocked when we heard the final scores.

“At the end of the day, a win’s a win, but I thought I’d beaten him by more than that.

“I felt comfortable in there though, which is a good sign.”

He added: “It was really good to have a fight that was closer to Keighley this time.

“I sold about 80 tickets and we had a good crowd over there.”

As for what comes next for him, he said: “I reckon I’ve got a good three years left of boxing.

“I’m hoping to get back in the ring in a few months, around October time, then next year I’d like to challenge for a Central Area title, which would be great to get under my belt.

“I’m 35 now, so time is ticking, but my body still feels good, I don’t feel worn down or anything.”

O’Reilly, who wanted to give a shout out to his sponsors for all of their support, would like to get back down to his usual welterweight level going forward too.

He explained: “Saturday night’s fight was actually at super welterweight.

“We tried to match it up at about 11 stone, and it ended up that I weighed in at 10st 12lb and Joe was at 11st 3lb.

“I was a bit lighter than I’d expected actually, so I now want to get down to welterweight for my next fight.”