Boxing: Robinson to risk all in battle with Irwin

STEVE ROBINSON has waited four years for a chance to avenge his WBO featherweight title defeat by Prince Naseem Hamed. Now, firmly installed as the World Boxing Organisation's leading contender for Hamed's title, Robinson could be less than six months away from achieving his ambition.

Yet he is prepared to risk his position by defending his European title against Doncaster's capable British champion Jon Jo Irwin at Bowlers, Manchester tonight. Whether or not Robinson is in Hamed's plans remains to be seen, but the Welshman simply cannot afford to lose at this crucial stage of his career. So why the gamble?

Robinson's manager, Dai Gardiner, explained: "We've got to defend the European title, we weren't going to give it up or hang about. Steve's got to earn, so that's it. Jon Jo Irwin stands in front of us and we've got to get him out of the way. Irwin's British title is also at stake and there's a lot of prestige in that. It seems amazing that Steve has not fought for it before."

n Reports yesterday indicated that Mike Tyson will fight in Britain next month if a deal can be worked out this weekend. The fight would take place either on 22 January at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, or on 29 January at the MEN Stadium in Manchester.

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