ALMOST two years of boxing inactivity due to career-threatening injuries will come to an end for County Durham's Bradley Saunders when he gets back in the ring in Newcastle later this month.

Saunders’ comeback will be televised live on Sky Sports from the Walker Activity Dome on Friday, June 23, when Darlington’s former world champion Stuart Hall and Sunderland’s Josh Kelly will also be fighting.

It is 21 months since Sedgefield’s Saunders’ (12-1) shock defeat to Frenchman Renald Garrido (14-11-1) but the Beijing Olympian is finally back in business in a bid to rebuild his once promising career.

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Previously touted as a potential future world champion, the 31-year-old was forced to consider retirement from the sport he has dedicated his entire life to after badly damaging both hands in his last bout in September 2015, which ended disastrously with his first loss in the professional ranks via disqualification.

He said: “I just thought, I’ve had enough now, my body can only take so much. I’ve had the bone taken from hips and put into my hands, so got hip bone in both hands now.”

The injury-plagued puncher was taken straight to hospital for emergency surgery when he ruptured ligaments in both fists in the scheduled eight-round bout with ‘Le Lion’ from Marseille in September 2015 at the Liverpool Olympia.

After recovering from surgery, Saunders established a family-run business in road maintenance and lived a life away from boxing.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t enjoyed being off and going out with my friends and eating normal,” admitted the former Olympian. “Going out with my missus and having food with a glass of wine – brilliant! I’ve enjoyed every minute of being a normal person, I’ve not been normal since I was eight-years-old. But now I’m sick of being normal!”

Saunders holds the record for being the longest-serving boxer on Team GB and boasts one of the most highly-decorated amateur careers of this millennium, winning a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, gold at the 2009 EU Championships and bronze at the 2007 World Championships.

The former WBO Inter-Continental champion has been training in Essex with Peter Sims and sparring with ex-England titlist Tyler Goodjohn. When back home in County Durham, he has his family gym to train in with younger brother Jeff, also a pro, currently unbeaten in ten bouts.

“Our kid’s had ten fights, won ten, and knocked seven out!” Brad said. “We’re the same weight and we bring each other on. When we spar, we don’t half go at it and we’re not like brothers in there.”

Olympian Josh Kelly (2-0) will top the bill against Northern Area title contender Tom Whitfield (4-1) at the Walker Activity Dome

Sunderland’s Kelly has impressed in his opening bouts in the paid ranks, landing his first stoppage win in Birmingham with a clinical display against Jony Vina to add to his debut win over Jay Byrne.

Former IBF World bantamweight champion Stuart Hall (20-5-2) returns for the first time since his defeat to Lee Haskins (33-4) as he looks to build towards another world title shot.

Cruiserweight pair Simon Vallily (10-1) and Warren Baister (5-0) are both back in respective bouts while Preston’s super-welterweight Scott Fitzgerald (6-0) and Sunderland’s super-middleweight Jordan King (8-0) are also in action.