Boxing: Ashley has world title fight in his sights

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The Independent Online
CRAWFORD ASHLEY could be as little as two fights away from another shot at a world title, after it was announced that the Leeds veteran will defend his British, European and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles against Sheffield's Clinton Woods in Manchester on 13 March.

Ashley's promoter, Frank Maloney, said today: "If Crawford beats Woods I will write to the World Boxing Council, asking them to match him with Montell Griffin in an eliminator for Roy Jones' title.

"Joe Siluvangi, who Crawford beat for the European title in September, has been nominated by the European Boxing Union as No 1 contender. But I would rather he gave up the title, as fighting Siluvangi again would not do his career any good."

Ashley, who will be 35 in May, was stopped in six rounds by Michael Nunn for the World Boxing Association super-middleweight title in April 1993 and was out-pointed by Virgil Hill for the WBA light-heavyweight championship two years later.

"I expect Clinton to come out with all guns blazing, but I will be ready for him," Ashley said.

Woods, 26, who replaces the recently retired Henry Wharton, said: "I will give Crawford a much harder fight than Wharton would have done."

Battersea's Howard Eastman is also moving up a division, but for a different reason. The unbeaten British middleweight champion has scared off the opposition following his one-sided victory over Steve Foster for the vacant title last November.

Eastman will thus have to wait a little longer to realise his ambition of winning a Lonsdale Belt outright. In the meantime, the British middleweight champion is moving up to super-middleweight on 6 March, when he fights Yorkshire's John Penn for the vacant International Boxing Organisation inter-continental title at the Elephant and Castle leisure centre.

Unbeaten Eastman, with 20 straight wins to his credit, said: "I'm very frustrated. I wanted to win a Lonsdale Belt at middleweight, but no one wants to fight me. What can I do?"

Maloney, who is also Eastman's promoter, said: "We have approached everybody. The board nominated Anthony McFadden, but he got 'flu. Then politics got in the way.

"Glenn Catley moved up to super-middleweight to avoid Howard. Cornelius Carr refused to fight him, and now the winner of this month's Commonwealth title fight between Paul Jones and Jason Matthews will be his mandatory challenger, but I cannot see it happening."

Sharing the bill will be Eastman's brother, Gilbert, who meets Kofi Jantuah of Ghana for the vacant Commonwealth welterweight title. Gilbert, who is also unbeaten, with 11 victories, will have his work cut out. Jantuah is a stablemate of Ike Quartey, who lost a split decision to the WBC welterweight champion, Oscar De La Hoya, last Saturday.

Stourbridge's Robert Norton will have home advantage when he challenges Jacob Mofokeng of South Africa for the World Boxing Union cruiserweight title at Aston Villa Sports Centre on 1 April.