News September 2017

Sam Sexton vows to crush Cornish in memory of late mother


By Michael J Jones

NORWICH HEAVYWEIGHT Sam Sexton finds himself in the fistic last-chance saloon on October 6th. The long-time heavyweight contender will face rangy Scot Gary Cornish in Edinburgh with the vacant British title up for grabs and Sexton knows it’s a case of “now or never” to fulfil his dream of becoming the domestic ruler.

Sexton, now 33-years-old and 23-3 (9), turned pro twelve years ago and can boast of being a former Prizefighter, Southern Area and Commonwealth champion but the British belt has always eluded him. After failed attempts in 2010 and 2012 (to Dereck Chisora and David Price respectively), Sexton is aiming to make it a case of 'third time lucky' as he faces “The Highlander” on away turf.

Sexton’s biggest moment of glory came eight years ago when, as a hefty underdog, he upset Irishman Martin Rogan to become Commonwealth champion. Rogan had entered the bout off a superb winning run which included wins over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton (the latter to become an unlikely Commonwealth champion), but proved no match for the more skilful and quicker Sexton though the ending was controversial.

Sexton appeared ahead with Rogan’s eye swollen shut come the eighth when the Irishman had his best spell of the fight; backing Sexton up and hurting him with a cluster of heavy shots. Just moments later, Sexton was punching back when the fight was stopped on account of “Rogie’s” eye damage.

To show it was no fluke, Sexton then travelled back to Belfast to stop Rogan again six months later.

Nothing in boxing is straight forward though and the Norfolk puncher would lose his Commonwealth belt next time out against old foe “Del Boy” Chisora. The Price bout would follow two years later as Sexton was left in the heavyweight wilderness.

Since the Price contest five years ago, Sexton has won all eight fights with three by way of knock-out. He impressed last time out with an early dismissal of tough Welshman Hari Miles. Although not known primarily as a big puncher, Sexton landed a hard right-hand early in the second to conclude matters surprisingly quickly.

Fourteen months later and Sexton will be giving away home advantage, age, height and reach to Cornish but clearly has the edge in experience. The self-styled “Highlander” brings a fine 24-1 (12) record to the table but closer inspection reveals, aside from Joshua, the opposition has been largely unexceptional.

“Training has gone very good and I’m going to be bigger and stronger for this fight and heavier than I’ve been” Sexton tells Livefight last week. “I’ve changed my regime around to add muscle and there’s no injury issues this time (the fight was postponed from a few months ago due to a Sexton hand injury).”

“I’ve not really seen much of Cornish if I’m honest” Sam says of his October 6th co-challenger. His fight with Anthony Joshua was obviously too short-lived to judge him on. He’s a tall and rangy lad and I know he’ll be confident but he’s not fought the guys I have and I’m very confident.”

“It’s in Edinburgh in his backyard but I don’t see that as added pressure on me, if anything, there’s more pressure on him to beat me with his own fans watching so it’s no advantage or disadvantage either way. I’m not going in hell bent on stopping him (so it doesn’t go to the cards), I don’t see it like that but I believe I will beat Gary Cornish comfortably and if it does go the full route I’ll be well in front.”

“I’ve had a frustrating career at times and it hasn’t gone smoothly but I’m fully focussed on this fight and becoming British title and my view is, if I can’t beat Gary Cornish, I’m finished and will walk away.”

The 6’2” Sexton also has some heart-breaking insight into what has affected much of his twelve-year boxing career…

“My mum Mandy sadly passed away last year. She was ill a long time with a brain aneurysm. She was diagnosed when I was 19; even before I turned pro. When her health ever dipped we had to rally around her and one of those times was ahead of the rematch with Dereck Chisora.”

Chisora held an early-career stoppage over Sexton and the two men would rematch some two years later with “Del Boy” defending his British title while attempting to claim the Norwich man’s Commonwealth strap.

“Before the Chisora rematch I’d not boxed for a while and mum had been in hospital for six months. All through the build-up for that fight it was touch and go with mum so I was there every day. I spoke to the hospital staff to ask if I could use the hospital gym to train and they agreed.”

“I ended up doing most of my training in that gym and sleeping most nights in my car.”

Unsurprisingly, the emotionally strained and under-conditioned Sexton appeared lethargic for much of the bout before being stopped in the ninth.

“I said to my trainer Graham Everett, I wasn’t right for the fight. He put it to the board of control and they said if I pulled out I’d be stripped of my Commonwealth belt. It sounds silly now and, looking back, I should have just vacated.”

“I did rock him though, (Chisora) told me afterwards when I caught him I could have just blew on him and he’d have gone over but I couldn’t see it. Everyone could see he was ‘gone’ but me!”

Back to present day and during my research I can’t help noticing numerous negative comments from some of Sexton’s domestic heavyweight rivals. The chief tormentor appears to be Brixton’s Dillian Whyte who has posted several youtube videos taunting his 33 year old rival.

“I’ve been looking for a big fight for a while now while I’ve just been keeping busy fighting on my own shows. I called a few people out but I really don’t think Dillian Whyte ever wanted to fight me. There was one time I pulled out of a local show with a hand injury and within days I’d been offered the Whyte fight.”

“It was blatantly obvious I wouldn’t take it and (Whyte’s team) only offered it then to look good when I turned it down. It’s the usual shit that goes on in boxing. He has done everything to avoid fighting me and then he started pushing for Dave Allen to fight me. I understand it (Whyte) sees me as a low-reward risk simple as.”

“When I took the Martin Rogan fight years ago people thought I was crazy but even before it was made I said to Graham (Everett) I fancied the fight and knew I could beat him. I have always felt exactly the same about Dillian Whyte.”

“I spent time with him in the Klitschko camp years ago, I saw him spar and got a feel for what he could do and what things he didn’t like. I’d be very confident if it was ever made put it that way.”

Final word on the Gary Cornish fight?

“There’s been many setbacks in my career but this is the best I’ve felt physically and mentally for a long time. There’s no distractions this time and I’m looking forward to the fight. I’ve got my head stuck in this time and I’m going to become British champion for mum.”

Sam Sexton vs Gary Cornish goes ahead at the Meadowbank Sports Centre, Edinburgh on Friday October 6th. Chief support with be the exciting British cruiserweight clash which pits newly-crowned champion Matty Askin making his first defence against tough Scot Stephen “Monster” Simmons. The show will be screening live and exclusive on Boxnation.

Sam Sexton would like to thank his team, his supporters and also his sponsors; KAJA Steel services Ltd, B & F Gas services Anglia, Branks Gym, Aspire Property services, Nicholls Meat of Great Yarmouth and

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