Michael Walsh has paid tribute to former Norwich boxer turned trainer Jon Thaxton as he prepares for the biggest fight of his career.

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Thaxton joined forces with trainer Graham Everett soon after the last fight night in the city, back in November, and the former British and European lightweight champion has been detailed to plot Walsh’s path to victory over Kenyan John Gicharu when the pair meet later this month with the International Masters super-featherweight title on the line.

And it is a combination that Walsh believes will pay off.

“I have never trained as hard and Jon has played a massive, massive part in this fight,” said the Cromer fighter, who is hoping to take his record to a perfect 10 unbeaten.

“He has conditioned me and he has kept me dedicated, which has been the biggest key. Graham has always been there to do that and Graham and I have been together for a long time now and he is not only my trainer he is one of my best friends so Jon has come in and that has worked a bit differently. He bosses me and I have needed that.

“Graham has pushed Jon in front of me to do that boss role and my has he done it. Between the start of the year and by the time the fight comes around on March 22 I reckon I will have had five days off – and in those five I have gone and played badminton and things like that. When I would normally had days off Jon has kept me in the gym giving me a stretch-out day or a loosening day – there is always something to do rather than being at home .

“I have done everything right and there will be no excuses if I am not at my best.”

Walsh survived an early knockdown against George Gachechiladze last time out to storm back and win it before the first round was completed. It was typical Walsh: highly explosive and driven by the emotion of the night, which he dedicated to his late father.

“I have never put the work in like this, ever,” he said. “I have never taken anybody as seriously as this in my life. He (Gicharu) got to me after a couple of things he said, but I also turned a corner this year. January 1 was different to last year.

“The year before I tried to say that I was going to do this and I was going to do that, but my dad died on December 23 and that year was the hardest year of my life. But come the 23rd a year after I felt like I was carrying it in a different way.”

The 28-year-old Walsh is eager to prove against Gicharu that he can box as well as fight.

“The fight will be there, but I am going to use it in my own time from now on, instead of coming out at the first bell and risk getting put on my cheeks. I haven’t showed anybody yet that I can box. I think I have proved I can fight with a capital F at times, but I am going to box this time.

“I have always had it in the locker – but I have walked around the last few years being angry and I have been taking that into the ring.

“I used to change about a week before the fight and I would walk around with angry thoughts and bad intentions. A lot of it was because of the fight, but it brought out a lot of the other things that were bothering me in my life and I would take it all into the ring in one package and let it explode.

“It is happening already, I have been walking around like an angry bear, but I am going to use it in the right way. I will explode at the right times – I will box him rather than explode from the opening bell. I know it might not be as exciting but I am sure there will be more boxing – and the finish will be exciting. I have one thought in mind – I don’t get paid overtime.”

For tickets call 07833 658171.

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