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Norton can snatch WBU crown back - Woodhall; Boxing.

THE man who guided Richie Woodhall to a world title has landed his own verbal blow on fallen cruiserweight king Rob Norton, telling him: "You had your backside kicked."

But Len Woodhall, who has been the guiding light behind son Richie's rise to the top of the game, insisted: "Rob still has the talent to be a world champion again."

Woodhall senior was ringside in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, to watch Norton's sorry display against South African champion Sebastiaan Rothmann in his WBU title defence on Friday night.

The Stourbridge star hardly landed a glove on the Pretorian puncher.

And he paid the ultimate price for his dreary rope-a-dope tactics when an eye injury led to the fight being called off in the eighth.

Afterwards, an emotional Norton was at a loss to explain why he had boxed so badly in the first defence of the title he had won back in April, out-pointing another South African, Jacob Mofokeng, at Aston Villa Leisure Centre.

But Woodhall was not about to mince his words in the wake of Norton's most disappointing professional display.

"He had his backside kicked in there, it's as simple as that," Woodhall admitted.

"I think a lot of it was down to being overawed by the situation.

"This was his first defence and he went out there all wrong.

"Fighting is as much about mental strength as physical strength. Mentally, Rob wasn't right for the fight."

Norton spent most of the time covering up on the ropes as Rothmann unloaded. At first the challenger's blows seemed to be bouncing off Norton, but eventually they began to wear him down.

"His punches weren't hard," said Norton. "They weren't having an effect on me, but there was nothing there when I came forward."

The former West Bromwich Albion trainee goalkeeper was even booed from some quarters of the crowd when he stepped out of the ring following the stoppage, so disappointed were the supporters with the standard of his world title defence.

But Woodhall is confident Norton will come back a stronger fighter and will be a world champion again.

"It won't be easy," Woodhall warned. "Accepting this defeat and then coming back from it will be hard. But Rob can do that. I know what he's capable of. When Richie is building up for a world title, he's the first person we call on to help in the ring.

"He has to come back a stronger fighter from this - but he can do it."
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 26, 1999
Words:415
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