BONNYRIGG-BASED former British flyweight champion Keith Knox has issued a challenge to English referee Mickey Vann to don the gloves and meet him in the ring in a three-round ring bout - with all proceeds going to charity.
The challenge is a result of Knox’s fury at remarks made by controversial ring official Vann in the Leeds man’s autobiography due to be published this month.
Vann accuses Knox and his Glasgow manager Tommy Gilmour of being sore losers when Vann judged that Knox had been out-pointed in a March 1996 British flyweight title joust with Englishman Mickey Cantwell.
It was a decision which many ringside observers, including ex-world flyweight champion Duke McKenzie, thought that the battling Bonnyrigg butcher had clearly won.
On page 111 of Vann’s biography Give Me A Ring, published by Edinburgh firm Mainstream Publishing - the English ring official makes this claim about ring verdicts: "The most biased place is Scotland."
And after slating Scottish ring fans, referees, judges and boxers, Vann claims: "I’ve had so many problems in Scotland that now they’ve got their own parliament they will probably refuse me an entry visa."
Then comes the attack on Keith Knox whom Vann ridicules for reporting him for swearing at Knox and Cantwell during their British flyweight title even though Vann admits in the book that he called both boxers "*******" and told them to "do ******* something".
However, Vann also claims that Knox "as a Glaswegian" should have been used to bad language.
Vann concludes by accusing Keith Knox and his manager Tommy Gilmour of brow-beating Mickey Cantwell on the telephone to get the Englishman to testify at the Board of Control hearing on Vann’s alleged swearing that his language had upset Cantwell too.
Today, a furious Knox said from his Midlothian home: "It’s bad enough that Vann called me - who hails from Bonnyrigg - a "Glaswegian" in his book, but I have never liked the guy since he gave that terrible decision against me [in London in 1996] that robbed me of the British title and Lonsdale Belt against Cantwell."
Continued Knox: "Sure I reported Vann, with Tommy Gilmour’s support for calling Cantwell and I both "*******" and effing at us - as trying to win a major title is hard enough in the ring without having a referee bad-mouthing you with four-letter words during a fight."
Added Knox: "Tommy Gilmour and I never tried to brow-beat Cantwell into testifying against Vann so - I am serious - let Vann, who is an ex-amateur and pro boxer like me, and I get it on in the ring for charity over three rounds - I’ve suffered this guy long enough so let’s settle matters once and for all with the gloves on, with all the proceeds going to charity."
Meanwhile, speaking from his Leeds home, an unrepentant Vann said: "I’m sorry about confusing Knox as a Glaswegian but he really ought to learn to take defeat like a sportsman.
"I had 70 bouts as an amateur and a dozen as a pro as both a bantamweight and featherweight and I would be happy to accommodate Knox in his charity bout idea but I suspect I would be too heavy for him."
Added Vann: "I’m also unrepentant in saying that Scottish ring officials and fans are of the most biased in the world."
Meanwhile, Gilmour backed Knox’s version of events, saying: "Keith Knox and I never brow-beat Mickey Cantwell at any time but we did feel strongly that a referee should not swear at boxers inside the ring as Mickey Vann swore at Keith.
"In fact, I withdrew the complaint against referee Vann because Mickey Cantwell asked me to, as a favour."
Vann, who has refereed more than 300 championship bouts, 100 of which have been world title clashes, was previously hauled over the coals and reprimanded by British boxing bosses for swearing at heavyweights Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno during their world title clash in Cardiff in 1993, an incident he also admits in Give Me A Ring.