Preston fighter Lisa Whiteside has rediscovered her mojo as she bids to be crowned world champion later this month.
The Larches and Savick Amateur Boxing Club star is part of the GB squad which is heading to the Jeju Island, in South Korea.
The tournament takes place from November 16 to 24 and Whiteside is one of the favourites to medal in the flyweight (51kg) category.
Last weekend she took gold at the Queen’s Cup in Germany – a major boost for the Preston ring star after she missed out on selection for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
And Whiteside admits she has used the past few months to get herself in the best physical shape of her career.
“I’m feeling really good,” Whiteside told the Evening Post.
“I’ve got my head down and really worked hard.
“I have had lots of different sparring over the last few months and I’ve really pushed myself on the runs and in training.
“I’ve never been as fit as this – I’ve really put it in.
“I boxed at the Queen’s Cup in Germany last week and that has given me a big confidence boost.
“Normally the tournament is just a national one, but with the World Championships coming up, a lot of teams entered.
“You had teams from France, Poland, Sweden, Norway and there were some high quality girls in the draw.
“At that level it’s never going to be easy but I managed to win three bouts in three days and win the gold medal.”
In her first fight, Whiteside brushed aside Nadia Barriga, of Bolivia, and then had too much for Poland’s Ewelina Wicherska.
It was Wicherska’s Polish team-mate –Sandra Drabik – who became Whiteside’s victim in the final as she claimed a convincing victory.
“My first fight was against a southpaw so it was a good fight for me, “ Whiteside said.
“I gave her an eight count in the first round and won the fight by unanimous decision.
“Then I had the two Polish girls – they must be fighting to see who gets in a 51kg for the worlds.
“I beat Wicherska and felt really, really good and then it was on to Drabik.
“She was a better fighter and it was a good fight, but I got the win and the whole tournament was just what I needed.”
Whiteside has had to contend with her fair share of disappointments in recent months.
Not only did she get overlooked by England selectors – in favour of Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams – for the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, she also suffered a surprise early defeat at the European Championships in Bucharest, in June.
After overcoming Claudia Nechita, of Belarus, Whiteside was well beaten by Italy’s Marzia Davide – who went on to claim gold in the bantamweight (54kg) division.
“I got beaten by the Italian girl in the Euros,” Whiteside said. “To be honest, I did not know too much about her because she’s been out of the sport for a bit.
“But she’s been European champion before and she just came under the radar.
“She was a southpaw too which made it difficult and she beat me fair and square.
“She went on to be named boxer of the tournament. I just had to take it on the chin and just say I got beaten by the best girl.”
Watching the Commonwealth Games was difficult for Whiteside, although she was thrilled to see fellow Larches and Savick star Scott Fitzgerald claim gold.
“I was expecting not to to go to the Commonwealth Games, but it was hard to watch it in a way especially when I saw some of the girls competing from other countries, who I had beaten easily.
“I tried not to get too down because I’ve always known I had the World Championships coming up later in the year.”
Whiteside – who heads to Japan tomorrow for a preparation camp – will be travelling to the Jeju Islands very much as an unknown quantity at 51kg.
“I am not going to put pressure on myself and say I’m going to win a medal in Jeju,” Whiteside said.
“It can all depend on the draw, but obviously I would love to medal out there.
“I just want to go out there and give it my all. I’m fighting at 51kg and there are a lot of good girls at that weight.
“It’s going to be tough, but I’ve never trained as hard as what I have done.”