Norwich tipped to become a big fight city

Chris LakeyFrank Warren says he wants to make Norwich a big fight city to rival the best in the country.The man considered one of the biggest promoters in world boxing has four Norfolk fighters under his wing - Commonwealth champion Sam Sexton, and Cromer's boxing brothers Michael, Liam and Ryan Walsh.Chris Lakey

Frank Warren says he wants to make Norwich a big fight city to rival the best in the country.

The man considered one of the biggest promoters in world boxing has four Norfolk fighters under his wing - Commonwealth champion Sam Sexton, and Cromer's boxing brothers Michael, Liam and Ryan Walsh. And it's on those foundations that he wants to build Norwich into a recognised home for boxing.

Warren's comments came as he unveiled his top 10 youngsters to watch in the new year, with the Walsh brothers taking three places and being tipped for British titles - and more.

"In all my time in boxing, I have never been as excited as I am with this extremely talented group of young boxers that I promote now," he said.

"In particular I'm excited with the abundance of talent in Norwich and this could become a big fight city to rival London and Manchester.

"You've got Sam Sexton, the Commonwealth heavyweight champion, who has been involved in two exciting fights against Martin Rogan, and of course Liam, Michael and Ryan Walsh, who are all exciting to watch and extremely popular with the fans.

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"I hear that Delia Smith is a big boxing fan so maybe we can do something big in the future at Carrow Road.

"From the Olympic champion James DeGale, to world amateur champion Frankie Gavin, to the Smith and Walsh brothers, all these guys are capable of wining British titles and more.

"These are the boxers for the new decade and who will carry the sport for the next decade."

Warren's plans have been backed by Graham Everett, the man who trains the new breed of local boxers, who are taking over the mantle of people like former British and European lightweight champion Jon Thaxton, who brought an end to his distinguished career last October, and Herbie Hide, a former two-time world heavyweight champion who now plies his trade as a cruiserweight around Europe.

"That's the best news I have heard for a long time," he said. "I think it would be fantastic. We have the credentials, we certainly have the support - and we have the quality lads.

"Frank Warren is one of the top promoters in the world. You look at what we have here with Sam, Michael Liam and Ryan and you have half a bill straight away. Every one of them could be fighting for titles on the same bill, they are that good."

Sexton proved his growing stature last year when he twice went to Belfast and twice beat tough home favourite Martin Rogan to win and then defend the Commonwealth title.

The Walsh brothers - Michael and twins Liam and Ryan - are unbeaten in 20 fights between them and will be on the undercard when Sexton fights holder Danny Williams for his British heavyweight crowd at Wembley Arena on February 13.

But all of their fights have been in London, and the ambition is to reward their travelling army with a Norwich fight night.

"I think it can be done," said Liam. "Frank is the man who comes up with the goods and it is only a matter of time before we do get a show in Norwich. The sooner the better. I would love to fight in Norwich to repay all our fans for all the travelling they do for us and for all the money it costs them. We have the best fans in the country by far.

"Frank Warren is putting and lot of faith in me, Michael, Ryan and Sam and it is for us to come up with the goods and step up to the plate and repay him."

Brother Ryan believes the support at Norwich City proves the backing for local sportsmen is there.

"You look at the way Norfolk people take their football," he said. "Norwich have one of the most loyal supporter groups in the country. You get 25,000 people week in, week out so if you could transfer just 10pc of that, you have a great show as well.

"I think we need a centre, somewhere inside, somewhere that fits the criteria for TV. If not it's a big open air - and the dream is Norwich City Football Club. That is the dream, that would be unreal."

Sexton fans can call 07810 454380 or 01603 868606 for Wembley tickets on February 13, while the Walsh brothers' following can call 07920 114698. Tickets are also available from See Tickets on 0871 220 0260.

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