NEIl Derry has set himself what he calls “the ultimate hard man challenge.”

The 35-year-old, from Bicester, has taken up bare-knuckle boxing.

But his heavyweight debut did not go according to plan as Derry was beaten after stepping in at late notice.

Derry hopes for a happier ending when he fights at London’s O2 Indigo on Saturday, July 1, when he is matched with Bellator veteran Josh Burns on a show that also features Abingdon’s Ross Chittock.

“I like to test myself,” said Derry.

“I will have a go at most things and this is the biggest test out there.

“This is the ultimate hard-man challenge.”

Derry has a wealth of boxing experience having boxed as an amateur for Witney and had around 30 white-collar fights, but accepts bareknuckle boxing is a tougher challenge.

Bareknuckle fighters wear only thin hand wraps on their knuckles and a gum shield when they go into battle – and most fights end in knockouts.

“You have to condition your hands, your forearms, every part of you needs to be tough,” said

“You have to be able to give and absorb heavy shots.

“I’m training hard and I feel ready.”

Derry trains with Michael Thompson in Bicester and says his boxing skills will be too much for America’s Burns.

“Burns is a good name,” he said. “But he’s a grappler, he’s an MMA fighter.

“This is boxing – and boxing is what I do.”

Tickets for the show at the O2 Indigo are available from 07917 850777.