If this really is the end, then Sam Sexton goes as a Norfolk legend
- Credit: PA
Sam Sexton may have lost his British crown, but there is little doubt that he has written his name into local sporting folklore, as Chris Lakey explains
Sam Sexton can hold his head up high as a genuine Norfolk sporting superstar.
There will be few who will disagree with his long-time trainer - and, as he points out, friend - Graham Everett as Sexton bowed out of the top level of the domestic scene.
Sexton's defeat to Hughie Fury in the first defence of the British heavyweight title he won, at the third attempt, last autumn, should not overshadow a career that took him to the top of his profession, and in the manner befitting the spirit of the Marquess of Queensberry.
'You can't fault him,' said Everett. 'Can't fault him as a person, he is an absolute credit to Norwich.
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'He is a credit to me as well. If he does retire if will be a real pity. He has been walking into the gym for years and years now, he is a feature of the gym.
'I am so proud of his achievements – when he did really well as an amateur, when he won the youth ABAs. The watching him win the Commonwealth title, when he turned into a man that night, then Prizefighter and then the British title.
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'What a fantastic achievement... not bad for a boy from Mile Cross.
'Sam is a good man, a good honest man. What you see is what you get.'
The question of what happens next was forced upon Sexton two minutes and three seconds into the fifth round against Fury when referee Terry O'Connor stepped in after Sexton hit the canvas for the second time. It doesn't perhaps tell the story of the fight: Fury worked his left jab well, but Sexton's defence ensured the damage was minimal.
Fury tried to throw the right hand bombs and at the very end of the fourth round, the plan paid off. Sexton was on the front foot but Fury countered, stunned Sexton and another right put his man down. Sexton recovered well but disaster stuck when he went on the attack and those fast hands found a gap – and exploited it perfectly.
'I think everything was going to plan,' added Everett. 'It was a good fight, exactly what we expected from Hughie – a pretty fast, long start. We were working on moving the head, getting in close, getting behind the jab and trying to work the body. It was going really well, Sam was in no trouble, no problems whatsoever and then he got caught by a big shot. Unfortunately that is the name of the game.'