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Boxing: Hide must seek better credentials

HERBIE HIDE is ready to help Lennox Lewis fill his calendar should the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion's proposed fight with Evander Holyfield fail to materialise, writes Glyn Leach. Hide, the 27-year-old World Boxing Organisation champion, destroyed his solemn-faced mandatory contender, Frankfurt's Willi Fischer, after 64 seconds of round two on home ground at the Norwich Sports Village on Saturday night. And after watching Lewis defend his title against Zeljko Mavrovic later that evening in Connecticut, Hide was brimming with confidence.

"People have said I'm too small to be able to beat Lennox, but I'm not as small as Mavrovic and he did well enough," said Hide. "Mavrovic doesn't punch anywhere near as hard as me; I'm bigger and stronger than Mavrovic, and I'm much, much faster."

Against Fischer, Hide proved once more that what he lacks in size by contemporary heavyweight standards - he weighed 15st 10lb for this second defence of his second tenure as WBO champion - he makes up for with speed, accuracy and aggressive intent. Fischer, whose brow was already heavily furrowed when he entered the ring with a won-lost-drawn record of 21-1- 1 (16 KOs), was taken apart in round two when Hide floored the German the requisite number of times for the fight to be terminated under the WBO's three-knockdown (in one round) rule.

It was an impressive performance by the champion, who won his 31st fight (30 by KO) against one defeat (to Riddick Bowe for this title in March 1995). But there is very little chance of a WBC-WBO unification bout with Lewis taking place in the near future - at present there just is not enough interest to make it worth Lewis's while.

A series of spectacular victories over respected opposition would aid Hide's cause; without even breaking sweat, Hide can blow away lesser lights like Fischer. But Lewis would be another matter entirely and Hide needs to establish a more impressive set of credentials before American television would accept him as an opponent for the WBC champion.

The evening ended in utter disappointment for another Norwich fighter, Jon Thaxton, who was stopped after two minutes, 14 seconds of round seven by an unsung American substitute, Emanuel Burton. Thaxton lost his WBO and International Boxing Federation Intercontinental light-welterweight championships. The result was a considerable upset. The 24-year-old had been the WBO's No 1 contender for some time and an attempt on the sanctioning body's title proper cannot have been far away.

The defeat - Thaxton's fourth in 20 fights - was a major blow not only for Thaxton, but also for Frank Warren, who has lost a major ticket-seller; Thaxton has regularly been used to prop up Norfolk cards featuring Hide, whose catalogue of brushes with the law has left him somewhat unpopular in his home area.