Gary Cornish has imminent victory snatched away by Sam Sexton

Gary Cornish lands a right-hander on Sam Sexton, but the night was to end in disappointment for the Highlander. Picture: SNS.
Gary Cornish lands a right-hander on Sam Sexton, but the night was to end in disappointment for the Highlander. Picture: SNS.
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Scotland’s wait for its first British heavyweight champion continues after Inverness boxer Gary Cornish lost by a unanimous decision to Norwich’s Sam Sexton at Meadowbank last night.

Cornish suffered his second defeat in 26 bouts spanning 12 years as a professional, his other coming against current WBA, IBF and IBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in September 2015.

These two colossal frames were not content to sit tight in the first round and exchanged blows almost immediately.

The Scot sustained a cut to his left eyebrow inside the opening three minutes due to a clash of heads but that didn’t knock him off his stride.

To his credit, Sexton, who is three years Cornish’s senior, looked useful as he made his way around the canvas but was unable to land any shots of real note early on.

Cornish was the one operating on the front foot as the Highlander caught the Englishman with a ferocious overhand right in the fourth round that sent his opponent stumbling to the ropes.

However, Sexton grew in confidence as the contest wore on and responded with a shot that caught the home favourite
in the eighth round. As the minutes ticked down, both boxers began to sense victory was within their grasp, the crowd urging their man to deliver the stoppage.

However, despite his best efforts, Sexton stood tall and underlined his durability to snatch the Lonsdale Belt under the nose of the deflated-looking Cornish.

Edinburgh’s Tommy Philbin is the new super middleweight Celtic champion after his unanimous win over compatriot and current Scottish champion Rhys Pagan. It was Philbin’s first contest since the vacating the light heavyweight division in June.

Meanwhile, Anthony Crolla dismissed suggestions he and Ricky Burns are risking their legacies when they fight at the Manchester Arena tonight.

Both men have had fine careers in which they haves won world titles at lightweight – Burns was also a champion at the weight below and above – but the loser could struggle to recover from a defeat.

Crolla has lost his last two fights, both to reigning WBA champion Jorge Linares, and a third in succession at the age of 30 would likely prove difficult to overcome.

Burns also lost his most recent fight, to Julius Indongo. At 34, like Crolla, he hopes to avoid the seventh loss of his career.

Tonight’s winner could yet challenge again for world honours even if the loser would have few prospects, but Crolla, who weighed in at 9st 8lbs 9oz, said: “I don’t believe we’re putting our legacies on the line. We’ve both boxed top fighters.

“We sparred about nine years ago and a lot has changed since then.

“He’s been in with boxing royalty; he’s had a great career. He wants to win another world title and so do I.”

Another potential concern for Burns, who was four ounces lighter than his opponent, is that he is dropping down in weight and that few fighters have succeeded in doing so during the final stages of their careers.

Roy Jones Jnr and Oscar De La Hoya were among those in the modern era who suffered one-sided defeats in such circumstances, and Burns revealed his trainer Tony Sims was unhappy at 
the prospect.

“Tony wasn’t too keen on it but I know that I can do it properly and winning this fight can lead to bigger things,” he said.

“I’m not retiring until boxing is out of my system, until I hate training and am fed up with dieting.”