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Boxing: TRIUMPHANT MAGEE EYES HATTON.

Byline: NICK PARKINSON

EAMONN MAGEE took a step closer to a clash with Ricky Hatton after making the fifth defence of his Commonwealth light-welterweight title last night.

The Belfast boxer stopped Norwich's John Thaxton after one minute and 10-seconds of round six to stay on course for a meeting with WBU World Champion Hatton later this year.

Magee, 30, signed up with promoter Frank Warren last year with the intention of meeting Englishman Hatton, who was top of the bill at a 12,000 sell-out MEN Arena in Manchester.

Hatton, 23, was unable to stop Thaxton when they fought for the British title two years ago.

But the Northern Irishman sent out a warning to Hatton in front of his home crowd after sending Thaxton spinning with a left hook which his opponent failed to recover from.

Magee said: "I promised myself to try to put on a good show for the Manchester people because I was disappointed with my last performance here.

"I want to fight Ricky Hatton as soon as possible.

"Hopefully it can be in April in front of 40,000 fans at Maine Road.

"He (Thaxton) recovered from the first knockdown fast, but when I caught him again I knew that it was all over."

Thaxton, 27, put pressure on Magee from the opening bell and opened up a cut in the corner of the champion's left eye.

But Thaxton's control of the fight slipped from his grasp in the third round when he was dropped by a left hood for a mandatory count of eight.

The challenger got to his feet quickly and survived further heavy blows from Magee before he was saved by the bell.

But Thaxton then responded by sending Magee staggering back on to the ropes with a right hook in the fifth round.

Magee was not rattled by the assault and brought a sudden end to the contest in the following round.

Thaxton's senses were scrambled by a short left hook and he could offer no reply to Magee's onslaught before referee Don Coyle stepped in to stop them.

CAPTION(S):

WINNING SALUTE: Eamonn Magee last night
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 10, 2002
Words:356
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