In the space of 12 months John Murray went from fighting for a world title at Madison Square Garden to digging up roads. The former British and European lightweight champion endured a miserable Christmas, working 13-hour shifts in the elements and fearing his boxing career was over.
The 28-year-old was due to face Gavin Rees last month in what would have been his first fight in 12 months.
But when a brain scan detected signs of a swollen pituitary gland in his brain, his hopes of a comeback were ended.
Murray says subsequent tests have show that he is safe to resume his fight career. But the prospect of having to give up the sport was a terrifying one.
"When I found out I couldn't fight Gavin Rees, I thought, 'What do I do now?'" said Murray, who was dubbed the new Ricky Hatton when building up the longest unbeaten record in British boxing in 2011.
"I was a 28-year-old school leaver. I was bright at school and I had options, but they're not there now.
"I had to go and get a job, so I was working on the roads for a bit, digging and laying pipes.
"I was getting up at 5.30 in the morning and working until after six in the evening, six days a week.
"It was a shock to the system because I've been a professional boxer for 10 years."
Murray established himself as the best lightweight in Europe, winning 31 straight fights at the start of his career.
That record came to an end in 2011 when losing a thrilling contest to Kevin Mitchell after eight rounds at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
But he was still handed a shot at WBA champion Brandon Rios later that year, fulfilling his dream to fight at New York's legendary Madison Square Garden.
On that occasion he was stopped after 11 rounds, but earned the biggest payday of his life and could afford to take time off last year.
His long-awaited comeback against Rees was set for December 8, with the winner expected to go on and fight for a world title.
Rees has now secured a shot at WBC champion Adrien Broner next month - but it was a very different story for Murray.
"In boxing there is nothing in place to help you when you retire," said the Levenshulme fighter. "Once you are retired, used up and the promoters can't get you beaten up any more, there is no one there to help.
"You have to find your own way. One minute you are topping the bill at Madison Square Garden, then you are left on your own.
"I'd always thought that when the money is running low I will get back in the ring and have another fight. I started training for Gavin Rees, got to two weeks before the fight and had it taken away from me.
"I thought if I beat Gavin Rees then I could get another world title shot.
"It was a chance to get back up there straight away. To get pulled out was devastating."
Murray is still waiting to get the all clear from the British Boxing Board of Control, but is confident he will be back in the ring this year.
And after coming so close to having his livelihood taken away from him, he is determined to prove he can still compete at the top.
"I was told I had a swollen pituitary gland in the brain and I got it checked out," he said.
"I've had a test and they've said there is nothing wrong with me.
"My doctor is sending a letter to the board. Apparently anyone could have it, but they don't get brain scans as often as boxers so it isn't picked up.
"It's not boxing related.
"I've experienced fighting at Madison Square Garden and I've boxed in Las Vegas, so I've tasted the big shows and had a good career.
"I'm 28 now so I'm coming to the end of my career and I want to do it again.
"I want to get the ring rust off and see if I can win a world title."
And Murray is already thinking beyond his ring career.
"I've started training people - helping them to get fit and lose weight," he said.
"It's something I'm good at and enjoy. Maybe that is something I will look into.
"When I get some more fights - instead of being young and blowing the money, I will have to start investing it.
"I've had a taste of the real world now and it was a big shock to the system."