Preston boxing ace Lisa Whiteside has paid tribute to long-time rival Nicola Adams who has announced her retirement from the sport.
The 37-year-old has been forced to call it a day after being warned she risks her eye sight if she continues to fight.
A twice Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion as an amateur, Adams career as a professional has not quite hit the same heady heights.
She did become WBO flyweight champion earlier this year but that was by default as the previous holder had to vacate the belt through injury.
She did have one defence of the title – drawing with Mexico’s Maria Salinas earlier this month at the Royal Albert Hall.
Whiteside’s path to success as an amateur was often blocked by Adams, who always earned the one Team GB place up for grabs in the flyweight category at the major events.
However, the Preston ace stepped out of her shadow last year when she won Commonwealth games gold in Australia.
And after Whiteside turned professional earlier this year, hopes were high that the pair would meet in the ring at some point in the future in what would be blockbuster showdown.
Unfortunately, that will not happen following the Leeds’ fighter’s announcement. I did not know she was going to retire,” said Whiteside. “It was news to me yesterday morning. At the end of the day, your health always comes first.
“It’s a shame we never got to meet in the ring but the important thing is your health and if that’s the reason she’s had to retire, nothing can be done.
“I wish her all the best in retirement. She’s been very good for female boxing and has had a great career especially as an amateur.
“She’s a double Olympic champion, but in the pro game it’s not really fallen for her. It’s not been as successful as she would have liked.
“It would have been great if we would have had the fight, but it’s not going to affect me from where I want to get to.
“We are are different paths now – I am going to move on from it and carry on doing what I’m doing. I want to be world champion in the pro game.”
Adams retirement means the WBO world flyweight title will become vacant and Whiteside would like to see that belt strapped around her waist early next year.
But first she must negotiate a 10-rounder – the first of her career – next month at Bolton. The Chorley born athlete – who is trained by Mick Day – is expected to face a step up in class in terms of her next opponent, who she fights on December 20 for hopefully an interim title.
She said: “The WBO title will become vacant so all being well I will get the chance to fight for that early next year. First I’ve got get this next fight out of the way which hopefully will be for a title.”
Meanwhile, Whiteside is hoping to be on the undercard of British super-welterweight champion Scott Fitzgerald’s rematch against Anthony Fowler.
If everything goes to plan, the pair will meet at the end of May next year at Preston North End’s Deepdale stadium.