Hatton's tribute to Thaxton

Chris LakeyBoxing legend Ricky Hatton says old adversary Jon Thaxton is a credit to the city of Norwich. Former world champion Hatton will lead the tributes to Thaxton at a special testimonial dinner in July when the 35-year-old draws a line under a career which stretches back to 1992.Chris Lakey

Boxing legend Ricky Hatton says old adversary Jon Thaxton is a credit to the city of Norwich.

Former world champion Hatton will lead the tributes to Thaxton at a special testimonial dinner in July when the 35-year-old draws a line under a career which stretches back to 1992.

And Hatton insists the city should be proud of its favourite boxing son.

'It's not just what you do inside the ring, it's what you do outside it,' said Hatton. 'Jon has done some amazing work for charity and Norwich should be as proud of Jon as he is as passionate about Norwich.

'I hope that the people of Norwich take Jon's testimonial to their hearts and turn out to show their support for him in his testimonial dinner.'

Thaxton and Hatton went head-to-head over a stunning 12 rounds of boxing for the British light-welterweight title in October, 2000 - the Mancunian was cut and bloodied but was awarded the victory on points - and never looked back.

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Thaxton went on to win British and European titles and, despite their battle, the pair have become close friends.

'My fight against Jon was my first major title,' said Hatton. 'It was one of my toughest as we went at it hammer and tongs for 12 rounds.

'We were both cut badly and after the fight we needed treatment. Jon showed what a tough and brave man he is. I got the decision and won the Lonsdale belt so that fight meant a lot to me.

'After the fight we were both in the doctor's room being patched up. We were on separate beds in different rooms, but we were shouting to each other about the fight. We were having stitches put in our faces and I remember Jon saying what a great fight it was and we should do it again. I won't repeat what I said to Jon, but we had a good laugh.

'The point is, though, we both gained respect for each other and after the fight we became lifelong friends. That is what the sport of boxing does for you. There is no other sport in the world like boxing.

'Jon went on to bigger and better things after our fight and proved what a true warrior he is when he moved down to lightweight and captured the British and European titles.'

Hatton will lead a star-studded cast of guests at the Norwich event - sponsored by Carl Moore, the man who backed Thaxton when he returned to the sport as a lightweight in 2005 - at the Holiday Inn Airport hotel on July 31. More boxing celebrities are expected while locally Thaxton will be joined by the likes of trainer Graham Everett, Commonwealth heavyweight champion Sam Sexton, the Walsh brothers from Cromer, Danny McIntosh, former world champion kickboxer Gary Briggs.

All will celebrate a career which began in December, 1992 in Stoke, when Thaxton beat Scott Smith on points.

'It's a nice way for me to say goodbye to the sport,' said Thaxton. 'I've been a professional boxer for more than 17 years and it's a tough game - it's my way of saying goodbye, and thank you. I thank all the people for coming out and supporting me - and having someone there like Ricky Hatton is fantastic.

'People often ask me, 'what's the best fight you've been in?' and I always say the Ricky Hatton fight. I'm not saying that was my best performance, but it was the best fight. I gave my all that night, I didn't have another gear to go up to.'

t There are 400 tickets available, costing �75 for gold tickets and �100 for platinum, with platinum tables �900. Tickets will go on sale this week and are expected to go quickly. For details, contact Sportlink on 01603 868606 or the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel on 01603 410544.