Rowland aims to be on top ofthe world

Jason Rowland is a veteran of too many boxing promises and too many damaging breaks in his career, but tomorrow night he will finally challenge for a world title.

Jason Rowland is a veteran of too many boxing promises and too many damaging breaks in his career, but tomorrow night he will finally challenge for a world title.

Rowland has been matched on several occasions with different world champions, and his latest opponent Victor Baranov, from Moscow, is the third name he has been given during the last two weeks. "I have been a pro for over 10 years and there have been times when I have felt like walking away," said Rowland, who relinquished the British light-welterweight title to challenge Baranov for the vacant World Boxing Union version at Wembley Conference Centre tomorrow.

Rowland's promoter, Frank Warren, understands his frustration at being promised one thing and facing the brutal reality of actually getting nothing. He said: "There are times in boxing when a fighter just has to be patient. It was that way with Frank Bruno, and he sat waiting for over one year for the right world title."

Barnanov is the type of awkward fighter that can spoil the outcome because he is never out of training and because he so often accepts fights at short notice, his record - 21 wins out of 39 fights - is deceptive.

Rowland's career was in doubt earlier this year when one of his pitbulls called Tunney, named after the undefeated world heavyweight champion Gene Tunney from the 1920s, bit off part of his left index finger. The injury forced him to withdraw from an earlier world title fight in the summer.

The vacant world title fight is the main event but Manchester's unbeaten Ricky Hatton, who has won 21 fights in succession, against Norwich's Jon Thaxton for Rowland's old British title is even more attractive. Hatton has attracted excessive amounts of publicity during a career that has been skilfully masterminded by Warren and tomorrow's meeting with Thaxton will be the first time he will have to prove himself.

In 1996 Thaxton filled a gap at short notice and knocked out Paul Ryan, who was then the No 1 light-welterweight challenger in the world, in the opening round. Impressive wins followed, but last November he lost on a cut eye to Rowland in a British title fight. The third championship fight is for the vacant British heavyweight title and a Commonwealth version that is held by Danny Williams, who meets another late replacement in Mark Potter.

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