Frank Warren’s Olympic stars face an Eastern invasion when they make their long-awaited professional debuts at the NIA, Birmingham, on February 28. James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders will all meet opponents from former Iron Curtain countries. Olympic middleweight champion DeGale takes on Vepkhia Tchilaia, a 21-year-old from Tblisi, Georgia. Frankie Gavin, the world amateur champion, tackles a second Georgian, 22-year-old George Kadaria And Billy Joe Saunders will face former Hungarian light-welterweight champion, Attila Molnar..
All three opponents have vowed to cause an upset in a fortnight’s time, and, given their professional experience, will pose stiff tests to each of the three Olympians.
“Training has been going brilliantly, but I’ve had an extra edge since I’ve known who I will be facing,” said 23-year-old DeGale.
“I boxed a few Eastern Europeans when I was an amateur and did well against them, but they are always tough and I know Tchilaia will come to fight.”
Saunders, 19, added: “I just can’t wait to get in the ring and make a statement. My opponent has been around a bit and he’s even boxed the full 12 rounds before, so if I look good against him then I’ll know I’m going in the right direction.”
And 23-year-old Gavin said: “Making my debut in my home city is a dream come true, and I’m going to put on a dazzling display for all the fans who come out to see me.
“It was frustrating not boxing at the Olympics, and by February 28 I’ll be desperate for a fight, so I’m counting down the days until I climb through the ropes.”
Tickets, priced at £30, £50, £100 and £150, are available from:
Ticket Factory 0844 338 8000 www.theticketfactory.com
Cinderella Man” Thaxton has World at his feet
Promoter Mick Hennessy believes Jon Thaxton can crown his “Cinderella Man” career with an audacious world title bid. After almost 16 years as a pro Thaxton upset the odds to win the European Lightweight title at the Norfolk Showground’s in his native Norwich last October and Hennessy believes he can go one step further.
Thaxton returns to the scene of his stunning one punch KO win over Juan Carlos Diaz Melero on February 28th when he makes the first defence of his title against French Champion, Anthony Mezaache.
While Thaxton is busy focusing on Mezaache his promoter is already making long term plans. “Jon’s too much of a professional to take his eye off the ball but I’m hoping to manoeuvre Jon into a position to challenge for the World title. Obviously he can’t afford to slip up against Mezaache and Jon himself knows that it’s a potential banana skin. He’s been in Mezaache’s position himself before and he’s a guy with nothing to lose so that makes him very dangerous but Jon knows all about that.
“People wrote him off after he lost his first European title attempt but I had faith in Jon and he delivered in style when he got a second crack at it. Jon has been one of British boxing’s greatest servants and I think it would be terrific to see him get a chance at a World title. He’s a role model for any young pro coming into the sport. His dedication and professionalism is second to none and if I can deliver a world title shot for Jon I’ve no doubt he’ll make the most of it.”
Thaxton says that a world title shot would be the icing on the cake of an amazing career that has seen him battle back from setbacks inside and outside the ring including a car crash that left him sidelined for 2 years.
“When I look back through my career and what I’ve been through, coming back from the car crash to win the British and European titles then I think, why not go all the way when I’ve come this far. It really would be the modern day Cinderella Man story and a real fairytale but it’s one I certainly believe in.
“I love it when people say I’m finished because I get a lot of motivation out of proving the naysayers wrong. To be honest I have to credit my wife with a lot of it. When I lost to Eamonn Magee seven years ago a lot of people were telling me it was time to hang up the gloves. To be honest there’s been times when I wondered myself if I’d ever get there. My wife isn’t a boxing fan at all, in fact she can’t stand it but through all the bad times she’s encouraged me and pushed me to keep going because she knew it was still in me and that I still had the hunger to do it.
Thaxton doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration. The dominant force in the lightweight division is unified champ, Nate Campbell. The American defends his titles in Florida on Saturday night and like Thaxton his career finally came good well into his thirties.
“I’d love a shot at Campbell and he’s certainly a good example of how it can be done even when your in your mid thirties. He’s two years older than me and like me he’s had his ups and downs so if he can do it why can’t I? It’s a strong division but to fight him or any of the other champs at lightweight would be a dream come true.
“Hopefully Mick can deliver that opportunity for me. I take everything as it comes but I train hard, I’m passionate about the sport and I’ll fight anyone. I’ve never ducked anybody in my life. In fact when people ask me who I’d like to fight I normally say either Amir Khan or Michael Katsididis. Neither of them hold any titles at the moment but I know for a fact they would be really exciting for the fans.
“They’d be great fights but I guarantee I’d win them because although I like to have a ruck and a punch up I’m adaptable and I can box when I need to. I’m a good mover and have decent skills so I’ve a lot more in my armoury than people think.”
The 34-year-old southpaw is keen to stress though that until fight night the only man he’s focusing on is Anthony Mezaache. “I’m really up for this one; training has gone better than ever. I’m ahead of where I would usually be at this stage in a training camp and I wish the fight was this weekend because it can’t come soon enough now. It’s at home in front of my own fans so I want to win this in style and make a real statement.”
Featuring on the exciting undercard: Danny McIntosh v Matthew Barney for the English Light Heavyweight Title (subject to Boards approval), also appearing New Heavyweight Sensation Tyson Fury, Matthew Thirlwall, Steve O’Meara, Daniel Herdman, Earl Ling and making his pro debut, ABA Senior Featherweight Champion 2008 & awarded the best boxer of the night Royston’s Bradley Evans.
Tickets for Jon Thaxton’s European title defence at the Norfolk Showground, Norwich on the 28th February are available from the Ticketline box office on 0871 424 4444 or via www.ticketline.co.uk
“CIVIL WAR” PUBLIC WEIGH IN SET FOR 4:30PM FRIDAY IN RENO BRINKLEY AND GILBERT IN FINAL PRE-FIGHT STAREDOWN
RENO, NV (February 12, 2009) Super middleweights Jesse Brinkley and Joey Gilbert will have one final pre-fight stare down on Friday, February 13th at the official pre-fight weigh in at the Eldorado Showroom Theater.
The public weigh-in will mark the last time they will see each other prior to the opening bell in their main event at “CIVIL WAR” at the Reno Events Center this Saturday night. Doors to the weigh-in will open at 4:30pm.
Tickets for “CIVIL WAR” are priced at $253.25, $153.25, $78.25 and 43.25 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com or through the Reno Events Center Box Office (775-335-8815).
A five dollar discount is available on tickets priced at $43.25 for students, active military, and police and fire department personnel with valid ID. Doors will open the night of the event at 6pm, with the first bell at 7pm.
Presented by Reno’s “Let’s Get It On” Promotions in association with Las Vegas based TKO BOXING Promotions, “CIVIL WAR” features the long awaited showdown between super middleweights Jesse Brinkley of Yerington, NV and Reno’s Joey Gilbert set for Saturday, February 14th at the Reno Events Center. The twelve round bout is for Brinkley’s WBC USNBC world title.
Reno, Nevada based “Let’s Get It On” Promotions was founded in 2000 by legendary boxing referee Mills Lane. In early 2005 he was joined by sons Terry and Tommy in the operations of the company. Along with super middleweight contender Jesse Brinkley, “Let’s Get It On” Promotions also promotes lightweight prospect Bayan Jargal and highly regarded brothers Tyler and Derek Hinkey. They have consistently promoted world class boxing events on a national basis.