As we meet in the heat of the Cumbrian summer, Carlisle boxer Charlie Shepherd is reminiscing.

This Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of Shepherd’s IBO World Championship title fight against American Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson.

It remains, arguably, the biggest night of boxing Cumbria has witnessed and saw Shepherd land the IBO super-featherweight belt with a points victory over Johnson at the Sands Centre, Carlisle.

"I had just defended the Commonwealth title about two months before the fight [against Smith Odoom]. That was the final hurdle, leading up to the World title fight against a massive American name in Tom ‘Boom Boom’ Johnson," recalls Shepherd, reflecting on the build-up to the fight back at the Sands Centre last Friday.

"The build-up went really well. I was back at my gym, back down in Lancashire.

"I trained for eight hard weeks for this one. I really put it in and I was already in shape anyway.

"It was going to be the biggest sporting event in Cumbria. Everything went well in the build-up and it was a great training camp."

Like with any world title fight, it brought a huge amount of interest.

"Yeah, it was massive," Shepherd, now 49, admits.

"Barry [Hearn] had just got back in with Sky, so it was going to be live on Sky Sports.

"There was huge interest locally and nationally.

"To be fighting some like Tom ‘Boom Boom’ Johnson, it was quite daunting really. But having home advantage, that was nice. It just felt really, really special at the time."

Born in Burnley before he moved to Cumbria as a teenager, Shepherd says he took in a pre-season friendly match between Carlisle United and Burnley at Brunton Park before the night of his world title contest.

He says: “I was quite calm on fight days, so I actually went and watched Carlisle United. I went to the Brunton Park because they had a pre-season game with Burnley. I kind of support both teams, so I went along.

“Nobody could believe it. A lot of people said ‘Aren’t you meant to be fighting tonight?’

"But I just took it at my pace, and I never really let things daunt me."

On the fight itself, Shepherd, who now runs Four Belt Fitness on Raffles Avenue, described the contest as “a bit of a tear up”.

"Yeah, I ended up with two cuts under both eyes and a cut down my forehead," he explains.

"He used a lot of heads and elbows but he had been around for a while, so he knew what he was doing. It was a bit of tear up, to be honest."

While conceding he has not met up with Johnson since the fight, as he admitted he would be interested in organising an after-dinner event with the 55-year-old American to celebrate a future anniversary of the bout, Shepherd accepts he left the ring with full respect for Johnson.

"You spend near enough an hour trying to hit the life out of each other. But, by the end of the fight, you have loads of mutual respect for each other," he admits.

"You see it all the time. If you look at the fight between [David] Haye and [Tony] Bellew, there was a nasty build-up but they are really good friends now.

"You just get admiration for one another."

In the past year, Shepherd has been involved at various events with boxing royalty, including Barry McGuigan, Ray Mancini, John Stracey, Carl Frampton and Bellew.

Shepherd says: "Yeah, I’ve been really busy. I have my own gym and I do personal training sessions.

"I do events with other world famous boxers. I have done nights with the four kings – Sugar-Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns. I’m all over the place, doing events.

"I’m really, really busy with that, so I can’t complain."

Shepherd also met former world cruiserweight champion Bellew at Clock Face Labour Club in St Helens in February.

“I like to think I am still held in held regard. As well as the world title, I won the Lonsdale belt in record time, won the Commonwealth and the Inter-Continental,” he says.

“Those three belts I never lost - I relinquished them all. I only ever lost the world title in the boxing ring.

"That’s a big achievement in itself.

"When I was with Tony Bellew earlier this year, he was stood talking and he pointed at me and said ‘It’s unbelievable to be here with the likes of Charlie Shepherd’.

"But he made me feel old because he said he used to watch me as a kid!"

After his retirement, Shepherd broke the world record for the amount of push ups in one hour in 2016, although the record is now held by Australian man Jarrad Young.