Injury setback will not deter Ficarro’s plans for ring return

FIGHTING ON: Nato Ficarra has vowed to bounce back from injury to fight Giuseppe Mando next year
FIGHTING ON: Nato Ficarra has vowed to bounce back from injury to fight Giuseppe Mando next year

Undefeated martial arts star Nato Ficarra has decided not to shelve plans to come out of retirement despite undergoing an operation on his knee.

Earlier this month the 45-year-old Newmarket fighter went under the knife for an operation on his right knee at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, after sustaining a ligament injury while training with the Great Britain squad in Covent Garden.

Despite the setback, the fighter insists he is still keen to take to the floor against Italian Giuseppe Mando at some point during the next 12 months.

“I had decided to come out of retirement after I was asked to coach the Great Britain squad for next summer’s European Cup,” said Ficarra. “At around the same time, I was asked if I would consider taking on Mando.

“Initially I was not going to take up the offer but when I heard from my sources in Italy that he was saying that I didn’t want to fight him I thought ‘I am not having this’, so I decided to get back into training for the fight.

“The injury to the knee came after I was pushing too hard in a training session with the GB squad.

“The operation seems to have gone very well though and it is now just a case of resting it for a while.”

Three-times full-contact European karate champion Ficarra and Mando were supposed to meet on the floor 12 months ago, in what was meant to be Ficarra’s last competitive appearance, but the fight had to be cancelled after Mando snapped his Achilles tendon.

To date, Ficarra has won all 119 of his starts – his last victory coming back in November 2011 against Micky Roades, a competitor Mando has already lost to twice.

Although 14 years Mando’s senior Ficarra, who will also be representing GB at next year’s European Cup, feels the last few months have seen him get back into the sort of shape that saw him land his three European crowns.

“I have been working on different areas of my defence and attack since I started full training again along with doing plenty of running and weights work,” he said.

“I have been training as hard for this fight as I did when I took on Micky Roades last year and, up until the injury, I felt really good.

“The aim is to start some light training next month with a bit of swimming and cycling before stepping it up.

“I am really up for this fight and am looking forward to it happening.”