Sexton eyes national glory
CHRIS LAKEY Sam Sexton has vowed to take over the mantle as Norwich boxing's next big star - and bring a Lonsdale belt back to the city in two years' time.The 22-year-old says he is ready to follow in the footsteps of Herbie Hide and Jon Thaxton after signing a three-year deal with Frank Warren's Sports Network.
Sam Sexton has vowed to take over the mantle as Norwich boxing's next big star - and bring a Lonsdale belt back to the city in two years' time.
The 22-year-old says he is ready to follow in the footsteps of Herbie Hide and Jon Thaxton after signing a three-year deal with Frank Warren's Sports Network.
Hide was crowned world heavyweight champion twice in the 1990s, while in the past two years Thaxton has claimed the world and British lightweight titles.
Now Sexton wants to carry on the tradition, starting with his first outing under Warren next month.
"Someone I have always looked up to is Jon Thaxton," said Sexton. "He has always been in the gym and he trains so hard, harder than anyone I know, and he has always had the dedication. He has had his ups and downs - he had his shoulder injury and he had a lot of time out but came back from that and he is now British champion.
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"Jon is the big name in Norwich, but - and I am sure he would appreciate what I mean - he is coming to the end of his career now and I am looking to take over and keep the Norwich scene alive.
"Realistically, in my own head I would like to box for a British title in the next two years and then maybe go on for a Commonwealth and then a European - I plan to go all the way so we will just see what fate brings."
Thaxton has long been Norwich's boxing's favourite son, but the sport is suffering from a lack of suitable venues following the loss of the facility at Norwich Sport Village.
The last big show was at the Norfolk Showground in March, when Thaxton successfully defended his British crown - and Sexton is hoping to do just the same.
"I am a bit sad I am not going to be boxing in Norwich for a while, but hopefully when I come back to Norwich it will be because I am British champion and we can get the home support coming in again," he said.
"Hopefully we can move on quickly enough and put shows on - we have the Showground and Carrow Road, but that will only be when I am boxing for titles - and I want to hurry up and do that so I can come home."
Sexton says any comparisons with Hide are purely coincidental.
"I used to train with Herbie in the gym, but I was a kid then," he said. "I used to watch him and I watched how he trained and I liked his style, he is very loose and very quick and I would say I was a fairly quick and loose boxer as well. But I have got my own style, me and (trainer) Graham Everett have done a lot in the gym and I am my own boxer, I don't follow anyone else.
"I have now started a weights regime and I am getting stronger and bigger and more powerful every day, but there is a long way to go until I hit my peak."
Warren has clearly seen enough to convince him that Sexton has a future in the heavyweight ranks, and has put him on the under-card of the Amir Khan v Willie Limond bill at the O2 Arena in London on July 14.
"I was away sparring with Matt Skelton and his manager speaks to Frank Warren direct and said he thought I had a good talent and Frank should take a look," explained Sexton.
"We got a meeting together with Frank Warren and we came to an agreement. He has guaranteed me at least six fights a year, it could be as many as 10, so as long as I keep boxing it shouldn't be long before we are boxing for titles.
"It has always been hard to get opponents - which is why I have had only five fights in two years - but now we have Frank Warren on board he has got contacts all over Europe and they are going to start flying opponents in so the fights should start coming in.
"Frank Warren has also got Joe Calzaghe so I might be boxing on some big bills now.
"Apart from the likes of Don King, Frank Warren is one of the biggest promoters in the world, so for me to sign with him is like a footballer signing for a Premiership club."