Boxing: Cuts a crucial factor

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The Independent Online
PAUL HODKINSON has already proved emphatically that a rest cure can work wonders for any world-class fighter. Liverpool's former World Boxing Council featherweight champion hopes the formula will prove successful again when he faces Cardiff's Steve Robinson for the World Boxing Organisation title at Cardiff Ice Rink tonight - the first of a package of five fights which could be worth around pounds 1.2m.

Hodkinson has been out for 11 months since losing his WBC crown in seven rounds to Gregorio Vargas in Dublin, and to meet a man of no mean skill in his home town without so much as a warm-up rates as the toughest of assignments.

He will argue, however, that he was absent for 13 months before dethroning the Mexican, Marcos Villasana, in a re- match in November 1991 to win the WBC championship.

The inactivity helped Hodkinson's injury-prone features, but his tendency to cuts and swellings makes the 25- year-old Robinson confident of adding another chapter to a remarkable success story.

'Hodkinson's all mine after six rounds,' Robinson said. 'I can't see that face of his holding up. He's a come-forward fighter and takes shots, especially against a boxer like me who can jab.'

Special ice treatment between rounds and a more prudent tactical approach in recent fights have made the injuries less of a problem for Hodkinson, who will give Robinson his first real taste of genuine world class.

'Every fight recently has seen Robinson step up in class and against me he will be taking an even bigger step up,' Hodkinson said. 'I won't rest until I fight the present WBC champion, Kevin Kelley, to get that title back. I have no fears that I'll be dwelling on the memories of Vargas.'

The key to the fight is how Hodkinson comes back after the Vargas stoppage, according to his manager, Barney Eastwood, who has recently agreed the five-fight deal with the 28-year-old.