The 24-year-old talent impressed as he wracked up eight wins between mid 2015 and late 2017, but his dedication and desire were at times questioned during that period.
The slick southpaw admits he was on the verge of retiring during an absence that started in October two years ago, but found a new out look and is now keen to make 2019 the year of the Dragon.
Fitzpatrick started the year full of hunger and with titles on his mind and was scheduled to fight Stephen Webb in February only for the fight to be delayed until May 25.
That mishap hasn’t slowed him and he points out that the recent unfortunate passing of his beloved father, Gerry, has only moved to strengthen his resolve rather than send him off the rails.
The Commonwealth Games silver medalist claims fans will see the fruits of a new Fitzpatrick on Celtic Clash 8 and suggests the derby bill topper is virtually a second debut.
“It was frustrating that [the Webb fight] was delayed but look I’ll not harp on about it.”
“You know what, my pro career is only starting,” he told Irish-Boxing.com.
“I lost my daddy four weeks ago and the strength it has given me to get back into the ring is unreal. He was my coach for 20 years,” he adds before discussing his return to the Immaculata Gym having spent a period training with Sean McCullagh.
“I’m back in my home, the Mac along with Nugget [Nugent] and Martin Lindsay and we are getting ready.”
“Nugget said he wished he had this Joe three years ago. He said I’ve never been as mentally stable”.
“I haven’t fallen out with Sean, he is like family, he respected and supported my decision. My Daddy coached him in the Mac and he lost his father [the legendary Paul McCullagh] recently who was another great Mac man so he understands.”
Fitzpatrick is aware that there will be some who still doubt him. While his talent has never been questioned, his dedication has, but he says that any out of the ring issues are a thing of the past.
Indeed, the Divis fighter is adamant he is returning to take over domestically and warned Ireland’s lightweight that they are on the Dragon’s hit list.
“I know people are talking about me, saying ‘he will buckle, he will break’.”
“I won’t lie to anyone, I’ve stated it before I was on the border line of retirement, but trust me what this space I’m coming for titles.”
“I’m going to do this. My team have been talking daily with Boxing Ireland, we have a great plans and that plan with be implemented. 1, 2 the Dragons coming for you!”
“Every other lightweight in Ireland should be worried because I’m coming for them. I want the green strap soon.”
Feargal McCrory is the reigning Irish lightweight champion, but looks set to make the move back down to super featherweight. Regardless Fitzpatrick is confident a busy year could see him claim the strap before the year is out.
“Another three fights and maybe I’ll have the Irish title,” he predicted.
“Look, you never know what could happen I could win the lotto and start coaching and let Nugget retire! bBut the Irish title is the next goal,” he adds before stressing he is ready to become a leading light for Boxing Ireland
“As I said my team have been communicating with Boxing Ireland daily. I’m their top man even more important than wee Dennis [Morrison]!”