Venues boost for boxing in Norfolk
CHRIS LAKEY Norfolk boxers have been given a vital lifeline after the emergence of new much sought-after venues for big fight nights in the city.
Norfolk boxers have been given a vital lifeline after the emergence of new much sought-after venues for big fight nights in the city.
Up to three new venues could soon become available - a major boost not only for local fighters but also for the county's boxing fans.
The sale of the Norfolk Sport Village two and a half years ago proved to be a major body blow for local promoters, who had used the venue on a regular basis to host fights nights.
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Since then, Carrow Road and the Norfolk Showground have hosted major events, as well as a couple of city nightspots.
But ironically it is two businesses which took over the sport village site that could save the day - and could host Norwich fighter Jon Thaxton's second defence of his British lightweight title on October 5, against Scotland's Dave Stewart.
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The Ice Experience, which sits on the site where the fights used to be held, and the adjacent Esporta sports club, are both involved in talks with local promoter Neil Featherby, who is acting on behalf of London promoter Hennessy Sports.
"The showground is not available for October 5, but we are in contact with Ice Experience and Esporta," he confirmed. "I am sure both venues have a part to play in the future of professional boxing in the city.
"I have had talks with Esporta and we are waiting for another meeting and I have also spoken with the chief executive of the Ice Experience. Mick Hennessy and Sky Sports are coming down for a site inspection as well, so we're making good progress.
"Both venues and the showground are viable and talks with all three are on-going."
The availability of a Norwich venue means Hennessy, with whom Thaxton has signed a long-term deal, can now bring the city's best fighter home, rather than taking him on the road to fight. That, in turn, means more outings for Norwich's up-and-coming boxers who, without a venue, have little chance of getting a fight outside the city.
"The long-term future looks very, very bright with possibly three venues to choose from," added Featherby. "This is so important for the other boys, who are all part of Graham Everett's stable and still working through us at Sportlink Promotions.
"If Jon boxes away from Norwich it is very difficult to get our boys on the same show because they will want their own local boxers, which is understandable.
"Our boys are still looking to learn and bringing a show back to the city gives them the chance to do that in front of their own fans. It's nice to have Jon's back to ride on again. Without that, our boys are going to face a struggle to get the confidence to carry on."