From Breakdowns to Breakthroughs

By Brendan Bradford

 According to him, boxing is the only thing keeping his life from spiralling out of control again.

Jackson, 33, has a long history of mental health issues, including severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse.

Having gone undiagnosed through most of his life, it was only in his late 20s that the 2012 London Olympian finally found the help and advice he needed.

Luke Jackson will step back into the ring this Friday, just a few months after his world title fight in Northern Ireland against Carl Frampton.

The Tasmanian featherweight doesn’t have to fight again this year. He needs to.

After conceding defeat to Frampton when veteran Sydney cornerman Billy Hussein threw in the towel in the ninth round, Frampton says his life took a dramatic downward turn.

“I was on the verge of a mental breakdown,” Jackson told Sporting News.

“I was in self destruction mode. I was probably the lowest I’ve been in many years.

“I’m in a good headspace now, but f***ing hell. It was touch and go there for a bit.”

Frampton, who fights Josh Warrington for the IBF featherweight title this weekend, will go down as one of the greats of the sport, and Jackson has no excuses about what happened during their bout.

“He was just a better fighter than me,” he said.

“If I met him in Tasmania and he had to travel and eat unfamiliar foods and all that, would he still beat me? Yeah, I think he would. He’s just too good. He’s gonna go down as a hall of fame fighter.

“Everything a fighter is scared of happening in a fight, happened.

“In round three, my ear drum got punctured. Then in round six, the other one went. It was very, very, uncomfortable. I couldn’t hear, and I was a little bit disoriented, then the body shot got me hard.

“With the ear drums, I could hardly hear a thing and I had to shower for weeks with a shower cap on. It makes it sting when you swallow and eat.”

Coming down from the biggest fight of his life, combined with the listlessness he feels when he doesn’t have a bout lined up, sent Jackson off the rails.

But, like he has every other time in his life, he has fought his way back.

And, like always, boxing is the thing that’s gotten him through.

“I had to come to terms with what happened. It was hard,” he said.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to fight on. I had to ask Billy Hussein what he thought, because I wouldn’t do it without him if he said no.

“I had some downs, man. People ask me now what I’m fighting for, and the reason I’m fighting again this year is because I haven’t really got anything else to keep me focused at the minute.

“Boxing has been everything for me.

“I can’t stop yet because I’ve got nothing else to keep me focused enough to keep me from going completely off the rails.

“That’s just me being completely honest.

“I’m in the gym, I’m focused I’m healthy, I’m not drinking. But if I wasn’t boxing…then what? I’m worried about that to be honest and that’s why I’m fighting.”

In a good place again, Jackson says his fight with Rivo Rengkungin Sydney this Friday will be the first step on his road back to the top.

“You’re going to see a statement,” he said.

“You’re going to see a man that’s come back from the cusp of self-destruction to fighting fit again.

“It’s a good fight for the stage I’m at and to get back to winning ways. Next year I’d like to have another shot at it.” 

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