It would take a pretty substantial carpet to sweep Jon Thaxton beneath, not only is he British Lightweight champion but he’s also a hefty domestic obstacle in the path of the most publicised and high profile prospect in British boxing history, Amir Khan. Or at least he should be.
Tonight, Khan faces respectable Gairy St. Clair, a former world-champion at Super-Featherweight and never stopped, but if the expected victory catapults Khan forward and to a place where he claims facing Thaxton is no longer a worthy endeavour, it will leave the public missing a potentially cracking contest and place an asterisk against Khan’s subsequent career. Precious few greats from these shores don’t win the British title first.
Following his crushing victory over Graham Earl, ITV and Khan’s promoters tried valiantly to suggest Khan had now fulfilled his domestic apprenticeship and worked hard to exclude Thaxton’s name from post and pre-fight interviews. It was painful for those of us informed enough to know this overlooked the fact Khan was leading contender for Thaxton’s British belt and visa-versa, Thaxton for Khan’s Commonwealth crown. The ease with which Khan said “Earl’s number 1 and I’m number 2” in pre-fight conversation was hard to palette for most of us. Of course, the more casual fan is presumed to believe what they just heard, “baa” and follow the flock.
Thaxton speaks candidly in an open letter designed to embarrass Simon Block, the Commonwealth Council and the BBBofC, who variously appear willing to bend and sway to Khan’s tune. Presumably, not the case, but an increasing perception of those interested in the story.
Commonwealth Hon. Sec .
Mr Simon Block
2nd February 2008
Dear Mr Block,
Recent events have forced me to write this open letter to question your latest decisions made as the UK’s Commonwealth Hon Secretary. You need to take responsibility for your decisions and answer the questions on everyone’s mind.
In November 2006 Dave Stewart fought Kpatpo Allotey in a official Commonwealth Lightweight Title Eliminator at the Nottingham Arena.
After Dave Stewart won this fight my promoter Hennessy Sports requested from yourself that the fight between myself and Dave Stewart be a Final Eliminator the Commonwealth Lightweight Title, as I was British Champion and I featured on the Commonwealth list. The Commonwealth Council agreed and Hennessy Sports paid the £300 sanction fee.
After beating Dave Stewart on the 5th October 2007 at York Hall I eagerly awaited the result of the followings nights fight between Khan and Lawton. The Commonwealth Council advised on the 23rd November 2007 Khan was to defend against Graham Earl in December 2007 and that the winner was to defend against me, the mandatory challenger by 30th June 2008. So I then had to wait again while Khan defended his Commonwealth title.
Purse bids were called for me to defend my British title against Khan on the 12th December 07. You announced on the 3rd January 08 that The Commonwealth Boxing Council had ruled that the British Boxing Board of Control bid would be accepted as a Commonwealth Boxing Council bid as well, but with exceptional circumstances.
I understand that Sports Network requested via yourself that they wanted the purses to be split 50/50, you asked my promoter if we would agree to this, and we did. You also asked my promoter if he won the bid what date would he put the fight on in case it conflicted with the with Khan’s February 2nd date and you were told that it would not conflict and that our intended date would be April 5th. Hence the exceptional circumstances you set out in your letter one being the 50/50 split and the other being the restriction that the contest could not take place prior to March 2nd 2008 but must take place by the end of April 2008.
Myself and my promoter were clearly doing everything we could to accommodate your requests and make sure Khan had no genuine reason to withdraw from the combined purse bid.
On the eve of the purse bid my promoter received a phone call from yourself to advise us that Khan’s personal solicitor had withdrawn Khan from the purse bid. After this notification you cancelled the purse bid and I cancelled my trip to Cardiff to personally deliver our bid.
Prior to the purse bid date you had been copied in via fax on all of my promoters private negotiations, official written offers to Khan, one for £300,000 and one for £400,000. After Khan withdrew from the purse bid you were quoted in the media as saying; “The Board will be disappointed that Khan has decided not to put himself forward for the bidding process, and also that Thaxton appears to have turned down a career-best purse. With the great end in 2007 for our sport, this match was to be one of the most eagerly awaited.” Why could you have not just told the truth, that I Jon Thaxton did absolutely nothing wrong and had adhered to the rules and regulations of the Commonwealth Council / B.B.B of C. Why did you have to come out with an idiotic comment as if you were attempting to balance out the situation at my expense?
Needless to say we have still not received any official offers in writing from Khan’s promoter or management team so why could you not just be honest and say; “The Board will be disappointed that Khan has decided not to put himself forward for the bidding process and also that the only two formal offers that you had seen, were for two large amounts £300,000 & £400,000 which were from Hennessy Sports to Khan.” Why don’t you engage your brain and base your public comments on behalf of the Commonwealth Council and the B.B.B of C on written facts rather than hearsay?
You have also been telling people that Team Khan were never going to accept our offers as they have an exclusive deal with ITV. When big fights are being made a purse bid is the most fair and equal way to resolve the situation. All broadcaster contracts should contain a clause that should a promoter lose a purse bid the fighter is released for one fight to honour his commitment to mandatory challenges and defences, allowing him to abide by the B.B.B of C rules and regulations. My promoter has such a clause so if we had lost the purse bid I would have been released for one fight. If there is no such clause in this case, should you not be doing something about this? You really have tried to sweep this whole situation under the carpet, as if the purse bid was never mandated and never existed it’s about time you stood by your own rules and regulations and took proper actions.
After an official press release from Sports Network on the 14th January 08 my promoter wrote to you asking why Khan’s fight on the 2nd February 08 was being billed as a defence of his Commonwealth Title. You replied that no such application had been made to the Commonwealth Council; however you appeared not to be concerned by Sports Networks press announcement, did you ever take them to task about this, do I really need to quote your own B.B.B of C Rules and Regulation to you?
9.24. A promoter shall not arrange a Contest and/or state on any bills, programmes, advertising matter or announcements that a Contest is for any Championship or eliminating Contest for a Championship or to be contested under Championship conditions without the prior written sanction of the Board. In the case of Area Championships and Eliminators for Area Championship the prior written sanction is required of the Area Council.
22.9(a.) Before advertising or announcing a championship or eliminating contest the promoter must first obtain the necessary sanction.
I have been asked so many times why Khan still holds the Commonwealth title after withdrawing from the purse bid, when he should have been stripped immediately, when my promoter asked you this question you informed us that the matter of Amir Khan’s continuing status as Commonwealth Champion would be considered in due course but not before February 2008. This indicated to me that the Commonwealth Council would not be meeting again until February. However due to recent questions asked by the media as to why the 2nd Feb fight is still being billed as a defence of the Commonwealth Title. My promoter questioned you for a second time and you replied that the Commonwealth Council had now given approval for this to be a defence of the Commonwealth Title, does this application not warrant a meeting of the Commonwealth Council?
Please could you explain to myself and to the media why when a Commonwealth Title is held in the UK, where I believe the B.B.B of C rules apply why regulation 22.12 (d or e) has not been enforced with immediate effect and why the Council has agreed for Khan’s February 2nd fight to be a defence of his title when he clearly withdrew from his mandatory challenge which was set by the Commonwealth Council under the B.B.B of C Rules.
22.12. A Champion shall forfeit his title in the following circumstances:
(d) If he refuses to defend his title after the receipt of a challenge approved, and a date limit given for such title match, by the Board.
(e) If a Champion is for any reason unable to or unwilling to defend his title when required by the Board to do so.
If the boot was on the other foot and I had withdrawn from the purse bid would I be allowed to defend my British Championship title? No I wouldn’t because the board would have stripped me of my title with immediate effect. So why is Khan an exception to this rule?
I’m asking you to do the honourable thing and step down as the Commonwealth Hon. Secretary and as the General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, as your behaviour in my opinion has been a disgrace over this matter and I feel sure you have broken the rules set out by the Commonwealth Council under the rules and regulations of the B.B.B of C. Surely your actions as the Commonwealth Hon. Secretary are a conflict of interest with your position as General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control. In my opinion you are not only compromising the good name of the BBB of C, you have also done me and British boxing a huge disservice.
I’m currently seeking legal council on this matter.
British Lightweight Champion and proud to be
CC via fax: Dr. Calvin Inalsingh – President of the Commonwealth Council
CC via fax: Mr. Eric Armit – Chairman of the Commonwealth Council
CC via email: Mr. Charles Giles – Chairman of the British Boxing Board of Contro