Is Amir Khan lined up for Thaxton?

CHRIS LAKEY Promoter Mick Hennessy has dangled a tantalising carrot in front of British boxing's brightest young hope Amir Khan by suggesting a match-up with Norwich's Jon Thaxton.

CHRIS LAKEY

Promoter Mick Hennessy has dangled a tantalising carrot in front of British boxing's brightest young hope Amir Khan by suggesting a match-up with Norwich's Jon Thaxton.

"They are talking about Amir Khan for a world title fight before the end of the year," said Hennessy. "Why not the British champion first?"

Mouthwatering though the prospect would be, the 32-year-old Thaxton would probably have too much in his armoury for Khan, whose manager, Frank Warren, might not take kindly to the idea as he charts his charge's rise to the top. However, Hennessy has other, more likely, irons in the fire for Thaxton following his new signing's first defence of his British title in Norwich on Friday.


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"The sky is the limit," said Hennessy, who promoted the Showdowns @ The Showground event which was shown live on Sky TV.

"There's Yuri Romanov, the European champion, and Michael Katsidis, who fought over here recently."

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Thaxton, still revelling in his seventh-round stoppage of the awkward and gutsy Stoke fighter Scott Lawton, is happy to let others do the hard work outside of the ring.

"They are talking about Katsidis, the WBO world champion," said Thaxton. "Obviously he is a different fighter who comes forward but me, I'm just loving this. Bring me the best in the world and I will go to their level."

Thaxton raised the Lonsdale belt for the second time on Friday, having first claimed it in brilliant fashion back in December when he out-pointed Lee Meager. But this was a very different fight and one which owed much to Thaxton's undoubted power.

Lawton had a five-inch height advantage and a reputation for counter-attacking but Thaxton established the initiative with a big opening round right-hander. The 30-year-old from the Potteries tried to get his jab working but Thaxton's forward momentum was relentless.

A clash of heads in the fourth left Thaxton with blood trickling from a cut above his right eye, but some quality repair work in the corner by Dominic Ingle did the trick and, having seen Lawton enjoy some success in rounds four, five and six, with a couple of good body shots in particular, the Norwich man let rip with a right hand in the seventh which was the beginning of the end for the challenger.

Lawton had opted to slug it out, but it left him in range of the champion - and when Thaxton landed his thunderbolt it opened a split between the bridge of Lawton's nose and his forehead. Referee Richie Davies saw the danger, called a time-out and, after an inspection by the ringside doctor, waved play on. The blood soon began to pour out of the cut, forcing Lawton to go for broke - and giving Thaxton the incentive to finish it off. Punches were raining in from four red mallets, but it was the one that belonged to Thaxton which landed with 20 seconds of the round left that did the damage. Lawton didn't see the right hand coming, and when it landed it wiped the concentration from his face and replaced it with the crazy smile of a man who knows not where he is.

When he landed back on Planet Earth, Thaxton was there to rightly congratulate him for a fine performance in what he had admitted was the biggest fight of his career.

"When people are fighting for the British title it raises their standards," said Thaxton. "It makes them a 20pc better fighter, but it's made me a better fighter.

"Scott will come back from this. He is very awkward and he has good boxing ability. The crowd were excellent to him at the end and rightly so. He put up the fight of his life, but he had to - welcome to the Premiership, Scott.

"It was a little bit scrappy, but that was down to me - if I had let him have his way he would have boxed my head off, but we didn't allow him to do that. We brought various sparring partners in and Graham Everett had me get on his chest, do this, do that and we did it. We went through some dress rehearsals and we passed some tests.

"I hit him with a good shot, it split his head. The ref most probably thought he was on borrowed time because anyone who wants to come for a punch-up with me is going to get hit. He came out looking for a punch-up, but that's my office, he walked into my territory, and all of a sudden, one, two, three and it's over. The fight was going my way but you don't want to finish on a cut, I really didn't want it to be stopped on a cut, and I was glad the referee let it carry on and I am glad I finished that the way I did."

Thaxton has signed a multi-fight deal with Hennessy, and is enjoying a purple patch in a career that suffered a two-year interruption after a car crash in 2002.

"Mick Hennessy will deliver - sometimes youth is wasted on the young," he said. "I made a lot of mistakes when I was younger, over training and not listening, but the best thing that happened to me was having two years out. I had time to reflect on my performances and mistakes. Now I listen to my body, I listen to my trainer. If he tells me to have a day off I will have a day off. I am getting a little bit better as we go on. I bring that down to my maturity and Graham's help in training me as he has done. I am like a thorn in his side, but we get on well and we are a fantastic partnership."

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