Jono to make his second chance count

Michael Bailey Trainer Graham Everett admitted Jon Thaxton's European title opponent is something of an unknown quantity - despite putting in hours of watching the Spaniard fight.

Michael Bailey

Trainer Graham Everett admitted Jon Thaxton's European title opponent is something of an unknown quantity - despite putting in hours of watching the Spaniard fight.

Juan Carlos Diaz Melero stands in the way of Thaxton and the EBU lightweight belt at the Royal Norfolk Showground. The visitor has only lost once in his 37 professional bouts - coincidentally against the man who ruined Thaxton's first EBU title shot, Yuri Romanov - and Saturday's fight promises to be a fascinating duel.

Everett is confident that Thaxton, 34, will have enough to come out of it holding a European belt, however Melero decides to box.

"You don't know the Spaniard. In some of his fights he's aggressive, in other fights he boxes a bit more protectively, so we are ready for whatever Spaniard turns up and, to be honest, it's our fight.

"We've got to do what we do and let him worry about us," said Everett of the 32-year-old Spaniard. "I've got seven of his fights on DVD and to be honest, quite a lot of them go to 10 or 11 rounds, so I've spent quite a few hours watching him. He's very strong. I wouldn't say he is as good as Romanov, who Jon lost to last time. He's an awkward, strong character but we've seen stuff in there that we have been working on in the gym, so we're looking to be positive on the night.

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"Jon's been in with big punchers, slick boxers and everything. This is the thing he brings to the table - massive experience - which is vital at this stage."

Melero had Romanov in a degree of trouble in their fight two years ago before he was knocked out in three, while Thaxton suffered a sixth round defeat to the Belarusian in April, after he sustained a big cut above his right eye. Preparations were not perfect last time round but Everett believes things are different this time. "We always prepare 100pc. It's no hidden secret that before the Romanov fight he did pick up a little cut over his eye, and we did lose 11 days sparring, which wasn't ideal. But you have to take these knocks in life.

"Trainers always say he's in great shape and everything's gone well, but trust me, it has gone very, very well this time. He's in a great mood. He's got a second bite at the cherry for the European title and he has certainly got every intention of winning this.

"We've got through some fantastic rounds of sparring. He's been doing some excellent speed work with Liam Walsh, we've had Junior Witter over here for a few days, Lee Purdy - an unbeaten fighter who's on the bill, Gavin Deacon. He's had some excellent rounds of sparring and he's in tip-top shape."

Everett will not allow talk of Thaxton's home fight being make or break for the veteran boxer, instead concentrating solely on his man earning victory with the help of a partisan crowd - something Everett believes will give his fighter a head start on Melero.

"We're not even contemplating defeat. That's a negative and certainly, in the last week of the build-up, you don't have negatives. He's got a chance, he has got to take it with both fists and he will," said Everett.

"The thing with the Spaniard is he's boxed in France a couple of times but most of his fights have been in Spain with home backing. Jon gets an absolute lift, buzz, whatever you want to call it, off the fantastic support he's had all through his career. It's a two-round lead to be honest with you. We're looking to the positives and we're looking for a great night on Saturday."

Tickets are still on sale for Saturday's fight. Call the 24-hour ticket hotline on 0870 060 1795 or visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk