Boxing: Corbett ready to rely on power

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The Independent Online
Darren Corbett is banking on his punching power ending the unbeaten run of Birmingham's Rob Norton when Northern Ireland's Commonwealth cruiserweight champion makes the first defence of his title in Belfast tonight.

The 24-year-old Ulsterman is confident of inflicting a first defeat on Norton, who boasts a record of 16 wins and one draw.

"He said that it will be easy and he'll stop me in four rounds," Corbett said. "He's in for a big surprise. If he thinks I'm letting my belt go, he can forget it. If I catch him, he'll go, but the knock-out is always a bonus."

Corbett first came to prominence when he accounted for the former Commonwealth champion, Chris Okoh - ranked in the world's top 10 - in three rounds in June. Since then, he has had a points win in America, when he suffered a damaged left hand. That followed an ankle injury which led to the initial date for his meeting with Norton in September being postponed.

"Everything has gone to plan for this fight and I've had some great sparring with the former European champion, Alexander Gurov, who was supposed to fight Johnny Nelson before Nelson pulled out this week," Corbett said. "People go on about my win over Okoh and it was my best performance, but the best is still to come and I expect this to be even better. People say I'm just a brawler, but I can box as well - I'm still learning."

One lesson he has learned is not to crash-land on his knees in celebration, as he did after the Okoh knockout - just one of the celebratory antics which have helped him build up massive support in Belfast.

"I couldn't remember doing it, but the next day and for about a week my knees were killing me," he said. "People laugh at my celebrations, but the adrenalin is running so much I don't know I'm doing it."

His manager, Barry Hearn, believes Corbett is on course for an attempt on the world title next year. "He's ranked No 6 in the WBO [World Boxing Organisation] and in the other three governing bodies he's in the top 15, so I see him having five more fights and then going for the world title," Hearn said. "There's not a cruiserweight on the planet who can live with Corbett's power."

The former European and Commonwealth middleweight champion, Richie Woodhall, will make his return to the ring next month following a kidney infection, and is hoping for a shot at a super-middleweight world title.

The illness forced Woodhall, from Telford, to pull out of the Naseem Hamed show at Madison Square Garden, but he will have his second fight as a super-middleweight in Bristol on Saturday, 17 January. His opponent is still to be confirmed.

Woodhall's promoter, Frank Warren, has told him a world title campaign is in the pipeline.

"I am a world class performer and Frank Warren agreed," he said. "I want to fight for another world title, and Frank has said, `No problem - that is why I signed you'."