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Boxing: Doc's out to find cure for Snake bite.

Byline: GAVIN BERRY

CRAIG DOCHERTY will have to tame the man they call the Bukom Snake on Saturday to ensure his Commonwealth title doesn't slither away.

The Glaswegian scrapper puts his coveted belt on the line against African featherweight champion Abdul Malik Jabir at Bellahouston Sports Centre.

Docherty's bout will top Tommy Gilmour's special `Tartan bill', with the undercard made up entirely of homegrown boxers taking on all comers.

But Gilmour knows Jabir will prove a formidable opponent for Docherty in what the promoter describes as the leading super-featherweight's biggest clash to date.

Gilmour said: ``It's the most crucial fight of Craig's career.''

``Doc seems to have been around for some time as he went to the Commonwealth Games when he was only 18.

``The only blip in his career was when he made a mess of it against Michael Gomez which he has learned from.''

Gomez dished out the harsh lesson in a British super-featherweight title fight two years ago when Doc was finished in round two after coming under an onslaught from the bighitting Mancunian.

It was a major setback to the battling Scot but he has not looked back since, claiming his Commonwealth title by knocking out Dean Pithie in April. And Craig's manager believes he is now a far more accomplished fighter.

Gilmour also has no fears that 24-year-old Docherty could take Gomez in a rematch and insisted: ``He's come on and showed character by winning all his bouts since then and the Commonwealth belt.

``He could fight Gomez again. That was just a hiccup youthful exuberance and inexperience of the boy. But it is different now.''

Although Docherty is being tipped to achieve great things he can't afford to look beyond Jabir on Saturday night.

The Ghanaian has won nine and lost only two of his 11 professional contests, recording seven stoppages.

He became African featherweight champ with a unanimous points decision over Nigeria's Sunday Okoli in Accra last March.

And Gilmour has great respect for Jabir. He said: ``This is by far the toughest opponent for Craig as Ghanaians are all durable and strong. It will be a big night for him. But Craig has donewell and there is every confidence that he has what it takes to emerge victorious.''

Doc won't be taking the Bukom Snake lightly either.

He said: ``I know he's a dangerous opponent but I need to keep winning.

``This is a huge night to be headlining a public show in Glasgow for the first time.''

Gilmour is hopeful of a full house at the Bellahouston arena.

He said: ``It holds 1250 folk and I'll be disappointed if we don't hit capacity. The prices are among the cheapest in Britain.

``A show like this is outstanding because there's not only Docherty but other hot young properties in Scotland.''

The night is a perfect chance for Gilmour to showcase the exciting crop of talent in his stable and some of this country's brightest prospects will be in action.

Unbeaten Buckhaven welterweight Kevin Anderson and light-welter Barry Morrison from Motherwell head the undercard.

And ex-Commonwealth welterweight champ Scott Dixon will bid to continue rebuilding his career.

Anyone interested in going along should call 0141 248 5461 to book tickets. Ringside briefs are priced pounds 20 and pounds 30. Any remaining will be on sale at the venue from 4 pm on the day.

CAPTION(S):

WHAT'S UP DOC: Docherty faces a tough test; GILMOUR: Crucial
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 26, 2003
Words:573
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