SEAN McGoldrick has spoken openly about struggling to deal with the pressures of boxing since turning professional and how his return to the ring this weekend represents a “fresh start” for him following the disappointment of last summer’s defeat to Thomas Essomba.

The Newport bantamweight suffered the first loss of his career in the paid code when he was outpointed by Cameroonian Essomba at Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre in August 2019.

More than seven months later and the 28-year-old Welshman is back to business in Cardiff tonight, taking his place on Mo Prior’s Vale Sports Arena show.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist McGoldrick is also fighting in the capital on May 9 after it was announced he will feature on the undercard of Lee Selby’s IBF world lightweight title eliminator against George Kambosos.

Reflecting on life after the Essomba setback, Manchester-based McGoldrick said: “The original plan was to have a few weeks out.

“A few weeks turned into a few months, but that’s just the way life goes, I felt like I needed that time.

“I took my time and then made the decision to get back into it when I was really hungry to return.

“It was my choice and now I’m just excited to be back in there. I’m smiling because I’m boxing on Saturday and then I’ve got the show in May, and they’re both in Cardiff.

“I never lost any hunger for boxing, I just felt bad about my last fight. You put so much into boxing, it’s hard then to take a defeat.

“It’s more the embarrassment than anything else, with things like social media and disappointing people.

“At the time, I thought all that mattered, but it has taken me a few months to realise it doesn’t really matter. I don’t mean people’s opinions don’t matter, it’s more to do with how I feel.”

He added: “I don’t particularly like the media side of it or the pressure that comes with boxing, but it’s part and parcel of being a boxer.

“If I want to achieve my dreams then I need to adapt to everything away from the actual fighting as well.

“It’s been a good learning experience for me to be able to deal with the media better and deal with the pressures better, and I’m just excited to be back.

“When you’re sat there at a press conference and all the cameras are on you, and when you go into the ring and the cameras are on you, that’s what I mean by pressure.

“You’re in the ring with all these people watching you on the television and if you make one mistake then they will all see it.

“That’s how I thought about it, but now I realise that people are there to support and watch and enjoy life, so why can’t I just enjoy it?

“Before, I looked at it as a negative thing, now I look at it as a positive thing. I’m just trying to change my own thought process.”

He continued: “It’s not just a learning process in the ring in terms of the boxing, it’s a learning process in terms of everything.

“I’m always trying to learn and develop my boxing but then I’ve never really been able to do it in the ring, and one of the reasons for that is because I put so much pressure on myself.

“I’m taking that pressure away, keeping it simple and doing what I love.

“You’ve not seen the best of me since I turned professional, not at all. It just hasn’t clicked for me.

“I haven’t dealt with the external things correctly and I think that’s been a massive contributing factor.

“Moving forwards, I’ve got to forget that, and this is like a fresh start for me.

“It’s about taking that pressure away and enjoying the sport a lot more.

“You can’t perform with that much pressure on yourself, so now it’s about taking a step back, enjoying it more and keeping it simple.”

Looking ahead, he said: “I’m older but have got plenty of time left to achieve everything I want.

“I’ve been around boxing a long time.

“In the gym since I was eight, boxing since I was 10, been to two Commonwealth Games and been around the world.

“As soon as I build a bit of momentum I’ll improve quickly and then really start pushing to achieve my dreams.

“For now, my focus is on Saturday. I need to get back in the ring, get back punching and get back being punched, although hopefully not too much.”

Losing his unbeaten record came as a big blow to McGoldrick, but he is hoping to use it in his favour going forward.

“It did affect me when it happened, but it doesn’t affect me now,” he said. “At the end of the day, when you look at it in black and white, it’s just boxing.

“Just because you’ve lost a fight doesn’t mean it’s the end of your career.

“It was a wake-up call, a reality check, which made me realise I needed to work on some things about myself.

“It has had a negative effect on me, but now it’s having a positive effect on me because, like when anything goes bad, you sulk for a few weeks or months, but you’ve got to learn from it.

“I really hope it is a blessing in disguise, but until I get back in the ring, I’m not really going to know.

“Losing a fight isn’t be all and end all. I didn’t perform and deal with the pressures in the right way, but now I’m in a different place.”