Sam let off leash for shot at Commonwealth crown

Chris LakeyNorwich boxer Sam Sexton has landed a shot at the Commonwealth heavyweight championship next month. The 24-year-old was yesterday named as the challenger to Irishman Martin Rogan, who will be making the first defence of the crown he won by stopping European champion Matt Skelton.Chris Lakey

Norwich boxer Sam Sexton has landed a shot at the Commonwealth heavyweight championship next month.

The 24-year-old was yesterday named as the challenger to Irishman Martin Rogan, who will be making the first defence of the crown he won by stopping European champion Matt Skelton.

The fight will take place at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on May 15.

Sexton and his trainer, Graham Everett, were in Belfast for the announcement yesterday for what is by some way the biggest fight of Sexton's career.


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Rogan is British heavyweight boxing's latest star, having burst on to the scene a year ago through the made-for-TV Prizefighter series, which Sexton went on to win in September.

'It's a huge challenge which has just jumped out at us,' said Everett. 'It is a fantastic opportunity for Sam to catapult himself up the rankings. He really fancies the fight and he knows he has to dig deep to win this one.

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'Rogan is at the top of his tree and is getting nothing but rave reviews nowadays everywhere he goes - they're talking about him fighting for world titles in Ireland, which is a great place to box.'

Rogan beat former Olympic champion Audley Harrison in December and then scored a surprise victory over European and Commonwealth champion Skelton at the end of February - a victory which earned him just the Commonwealth crown.

But Everett and Sexton have been waiting for the right time to return to action - and, having turned down a fight against Danny Williams last autumn, believe this is it.

'It's a case of letting Sam off the leash,' said Everett. 'He's been in my ear for a while now and when an opportunity like this comes along it's perfect, they don't come much bigger.

'We were due to fight an eight-rounder in May but this has come around. Sam is eight months older than when we turned down Williams, older and wiser.

'As far as I'm concerned, Martin Rogan is the man - he beat Harrison, he beat Skelton and you can't ask for much more than that.'

Sexton will be travelling into Rogan's back yard, but Everett says he has no worries about travel sickness.

'Sam has a good temperament and while it is going to be tough going out there we know we can do a job - and then the doors open again,' he said.

Sexton and Rogan are both signed to promoter Frank Warren. At 24, Sexton is 13 years his opponent's junior, he's won 11 of his 12 fights, while Rogan is unbeaten in 12, having entered the professional ranks late.

Tickets for the fight will cost between �30 and �150, but Warren says he is confident that the attendance will approach the arena's 10,000 capacity.

Beijing Olympians James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders are all set to box on the bill while other Irish fighters are expected to be added to the card in the coming weeks.

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