Boxing: Ashley's excuse

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(First Edition)

CRAWFORD ASHLEY has blamed the move from light-heavyweight to super-middleweight for his sixth-round defeat by Michael Nunn, the World Boxing Association champion, in Memphis on Friday night.

'I think I came down too far,' Ashley said. 'He's too much of a puncher. Those body shots were just killing me. I was too weak.'

Ashley, 25, from Leeds, was knocked down five times by the American, twice in the fifth round and three more times in the sixth, when the rule that requires a bout to be stopped if a fighter is floored three times in a round came into effect. Nunn dropped Ashley on the last occasion with one second remaining in the round.

'You see, when I'm aggressive,' Nunn said, 'I'm a bulldog.' The ring-side doctor, Jacinto Hernandez, said Ashley might have suffered a broken rib.

All 18 of Ashley's victories were by knockout, but now he tried to match the aggression of Nunn with skilful tactics. Ashley made Nunn miss often in the first two rounds, but Nunn rocked him half a dozen times in the third. Nunn ended the fourth round with a vicious left to the body, after hurting Ashley several times with lefts to the head.