Boxing: Bendall plans European route to a world title fight

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The Independent Online

Bendall, 32, has lost just once in 25 fights but when he steps through the ropes against local boxer Sebastian Sylvester he will be taking part in the most difficult fight of his nine-year career.

The European title has always been elusive for British boxers, especially on foreign soil. Bendall is fully aware that he is up against history and an extremely competent opponent tonight but he is also aware that being the European champion is one of sport's shortcuts to a proper world title fight.

"He is the champion, I'm the challenger and it's in his country. I'm not stupid enough to think that I will get any favours but I've been a boxer a long time and I know exactly what to do," said Bendall, who two years ago lost for the only time in his career when Scott Dann beat him for the British middleweight title.

Sylvester is one of Germany's growing number of respectable fighters. With the influx of many former Eastern Bloc boxers during the last 10 years Germany has become, behind Britain, the leading European boxing nation.

The Bendall and Sylvester fight is the chief supporting contest to the main event, which features Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko in a long overdue rematch against the American Chris Byrd for the International Boxing Federation heavyweight title.

Byrd, 35, will be making his fifth defence if he can somehow overcome five inches in height and about 30lb in weight against Klitschko who beat him easily when they met in 2000.