Last night in Edinburgh, Scotland 33 year old Sam Sexton won the vacant British heavyweight title with a grueling 12 round points win over Scottish hero Gary Cornish. After 12 at times exciting, at times messy rounds, Sexton of Norwich prevailed by scores of 116-113, 116-114 and 115-114.
Now 24-3(9) Sexton potentially sets himself up for some big paydays. Cornish, who failed in his bid to become Scotland’s first ever British heavyweight champ, falls to 24-2(12).
Sexton, the older man by three years and having his first fight in well over a year, was the physically stronger, more aggressive fighter. Cornish, so much the taller man at 6’7” to 6’2,” didn’t use his height and reach advantages effectively. Sexton, throwing an absolute ton of overhand rights, inflicted more damage overall, even though he too had to eat some rights to the head.
Last night’s fight had a bit of everything: hard trading, plenty of head clashes (causing a cut to Cornish’s left eye in the opening round) fouls (Cornish hitting Sexton on the back of the head and being warned, kneeing his man to the groin and getting away with it) and plenty of heart and guts displayed by both.
By the final third of the action that was watchable even if the fight could never be called anything approaching a classic, both men were all but exhausted. Sexton forced himself to push out more work but by now neither guy had much of anything left. Aside from their hero failing to make history, the vocal crowd enjoyed the bout.
Sexton, at this late stage in his career and after having had such a long layoff (just three fights since November of 2015) could now be looking forward to some big fights as he defends his new title. Sexton, though, may have a tough time of things if he winds up defending against either of the two young and hugely ambitious British heavyweights that are currently being moved fast – Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce.
Sexton against either red-hot prospect would be interesting, but it’s possible Sam would lose his belt if he fought either wannabe star. For now, Sexton can enjoy being British champ. As for Cornish, who suffered a busted nose and a swollen left ear, it could be a tough road back to championship level.