I WOULD say my best fight was against Ricky Hatton but I would say my best performance was when I won the British title against Lee Meager. Lifting that British title after 14 years was the proudest moment I could ever dream of. When I first turned pro my old man said to me, before the first fight I had – it was in December 1992, I think it was December 9 – and my dad said to me, ‘If you do anything in boxing try and win a British title, that would be an absolute dream.’ Fourteen years later, more or less to the day, I lifted that Lonsdale Belt after three attempts and 14 long, hard years. I lived my dad’s dream of doing that and that was a hell of an achievement.
Graham Everett was my trainer for the fight and he had lots of DVDs of Lee Meager before that fight and whenever I phoned him up he was at home watching them, coming up with gameplans A, B, C, D, E and, if we needed it, F. He was so passionate and wanted me to win as much as I wanted to win.
I knew Lee was good. I certainly knew he could take a shot and I thought it was going the distance, or that it could be a late stoppage because he marked up. I thought if I bust his face up we could keep boxing and I would try and knock him out, but I was prepared to go 12 rounds.
I think the weigh-in was at the Peacock Gym and I went head-to-head with Lee, like you do, and you give them the eyeball stare. I’m not really one for that but I looked him in the eye and turned my back on him and they said, ‘We’ve got him, we’ve got him. He’s scared,’ and was I heck. I had seen it all before.
It wasn’t a packed house on the night but there was a very good atmosphere. I was written off by a lot of people. I went on the forums and they said, ‘Thaxton’s too old.’
I might have been too old but I was very experienced and one thing in life you can’t buy is that experience and I think he was just made for me. I boxed the perfect fight. I got cut in round six, but I let my team worry about it. We changed tactics and we got the job done and I had a sensational last round and I put him down.
I think I was 32 at the time and I finished as I started, strong as ever. I remember coming out for the last round and we touched gloves and
I said, ‘You’re a great fighter,’ and he was, he did very well with his career – although I think he could have gone on a bit longer.
I thought the judges were very generous to me and one judge had 118-109 which I don’t think showed how competitive the rounds were. I showed my versatility and that was when the experience came in. It would have been great if it was in Norwich but it was still quite an achievement doing it away from home and winning the belt on an away promoter’s card being the underdog.
I remember when the final bell went, I went over to my sister – I always used to walk over to my mum and dad – but I found my sister and she was saying, ‘You’ve done it, you’ve done it,’ and that was a great moment in my career.
It surprised me the way I performed because I fought well against an Argentine in the previous fight and I upped it again and boxed even better against Lee Meager.
What surprised me most was how I finished it, dropping him with a six-punch combination in the last round and changing my tactics with the cut and then we were flying.
I was dominating and I was sharp from round one to 12 but I think every dog has its day and that night was my night.