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Salam returns to site of lone defeat

PUBLISHED: 11:50 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:59 05 October 2010

Tony Salam returns to action at York Hall this month – just two days short of an unhappy anniversary

By LEN WHALEY

Tony Salam returns to action at York Hall this month when he faces rival Richard Horton on January 30 - just two days short of an unhappy anniversary.

Salam's light-heavyweight ambitions were crushed at the Bethnal Green venue on February 1 last year when he fell to a shock first defeat of his professional career.

But the 25-year-old is now back with a new trainer and new ambitions as he launches a bid for glory in a lighter weight division.

Salam has joined Babatunde Ajayi at the Peacock Gym in Canning Town and faces his first bid for super-middleweight honours when he fights Horton for the Southern Area title.

The East London power-puncher has appeared on course for the sport's most glittering prizes after making a blistering start to professional boxing following a stellar amateur career.

Salam was considered a future world title contender after amassing a seven-fight unbeaten record, including a six-round defeat of former Commonwealth champion Ovill McKenzie.

But his light-heavyweight hopes were left in tatters 12 months ago when he was blasted to a sixth round knockout loss by former Repton amateur Courtney Fry in February last year.

Salam was caught flush on the jaw by a classic right-left combination and sent down and out for over a minute. He has not fought since that setback and even now he struggles to explain the defeat.

"To be honest, all I can remember was being in control of the fight up to that point," said Salam.

"I can't work it out because I had trained well for the fight and everything was going to plan, but I started to feel tired as the fight wore on and I got caught by a good shot."

Yet new trainer Ajayi is convinced Salam can restore his reputation after switching to super middleweight.

"Tony has lost some weight since he began training with me - in future he will box as a super middleweight," Ajayi confirmed. "That's his natural weight."

Title rival Horton has also suffered a single setback in seven pro outings and the future ambitions of both fighters could hinge on the outcome of their clash on the Sports Network bill headed by Kell Brook's British welterweight title fight against Stuart Elwell.


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