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Blood, sweat and tears – all in the name of glory

Sam Sexton takes a breather after 12 rounds of work at the gym. Picture: Chris Lakey

Sam Sexton takes a breather after 12 rounds of work at the gym. Picture: Chris Lakey

Archant

A pair of boxing gloves hang from the door frame drying out.

Two steps inside the gym it’s easy to see why: the air is dripping with sweat. It’s a quiet morning as far as personnel are concerned: Nathan Dale is doing some work on the punchbags, and up in the ring is Sam Sexton.

The 33-year-old is warming up ahead of 12 rounds of work with Graham Everett and Jon Thaxton: Everett has the sticks, Thaxton the hand pads.

Once they are underway, the near-silence is utterly shattered as Sexton’s fists fly. He’s looking sharp: not the biggest of heavyweights, but the forward motion is relentless.

He attacks the pads at all levels until one flies off Thaxton’s hands. Everett shouts “mind your chin, Gary, he’s got you again”. Everett isn’t one for pseudo applause and fake encouragement and the applause after a couple of rounds is spontaneous.

There’s a mental note taken of a couple of heavy, heavy punches: which round, which minute, which second. It pays to read your boxers like they are chess pieces – where they are going next and what they will do. Somewhere in the ring is Gary Cornish, the man Sexton faces tonight in Edinburgh. He’s either the pads or the sticks, whatever Sexton is making contact with. When he pushes Thaxton back on to the ropes, Everett’s sidekick becomes Cornish. After all, he is tonight’s target.

After a dozen exhausting rounds - and that’s just watching - Sexton dries off and asks the time. He has an appointment to make and he’s cutting it fine.

Instructions for the next two or three days are given and off he goes.

The gym is quiet again.

Nathan Dale is warming down, Everett sits on the ring skirt and it’s time for a chat.

Fortunately, Everett and Co don’t do bad-mouthing. In the build-up to this fight not one bad word has been said about Cornish, his team, Scotland – nothing. Why waste energy?

There’s some chat about Cornish having changed trainers in recent weeks. Will it make a difference? “It can work either way - it could be good for him, it could be bad for him, who knows?” says Everett.

It’s about two men and a belt. Blood, sweat and tears.

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