Tony Dixon given birthday bruises as he shreds ring rust against Faheem Khan

Tony Dixon given birthday bruises as he shreds ring rust against Faheem Khan

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

By Dewi Powell: Dark blue bruises didn’t dampen the mood of Mountain Ash’s Tony Dixon (12-2, 3KO), who marked his birthday with a bumpy 97-94 win against Devon’s Faheem Khan (14-11-2, 1KO).

“It wasn’t a normal birthday but it was a good night,” said the ‘Welsh Terrier’ – a nickname that acknowledges both his status as a two weight champion of his country and his love of hunting. “It was a bit mental, everyone kind of forgot about my birthday!”

Dixon hadn’t been seen in the ring since edging out Kieran Gething in a Fight of the Year contender for the Welsh welterweight title, though he remained inactive for 11 months following the win in 2018. Promoter Sanigar Events, who also handle management duties, welcomed Dixon’s return to action at Swansea’s LC2 and broadcaster S4C showed the fight against Khan on taped delay.

From the outset, Dixon circled to his left in an attempt to negate the challenge of Khan’s southpaw stance. It manoeuvred Khan to the edges of the ring, where Dixon was able to commit to wide hooks. However, the visitor had his own success in the early exchanges. Crafty head clashes and cute crosses left Dixon with a badly swollen eye by the end of the second round and he was well aware of the fight on his hands.

“I think they [the head clashes] were on accident but it was a lot of times. They smashed me straight in the eyes,” winced Dixon afterwards. “I couldn’t see out of one eye. All the way through [the fight], I could hardly see. My eye was always funny anyway, so it kind of done me a favour.

“I felt a bit ring rusty. I know he was a southpaw. A slippery, awkward guy. He’s a good, awkward fighter. They’d done their homework on me and he didn’t do bad, in all fairness to him.”

Dixon was clumsily bundled over by a right hook in the third round and he quickly rose to dispute referee Reece Carter’s instant count, adamant he’d tripped to the canvas. The response in the following rounds saw a full throttle attack and it unsettled Khan, who was looking to escape the pressure.

“I genuinely slipped. He didn’t even touch me. I said to him [the referee], ‘are you serious?’ He just looked at me and started counting anyway. I jumped back and tripped over my own foot, he wasn’t even near me,” Dixon insisted.

“I thought to myself, ‘I need to make that up.’ So, it did me a favour… even though it didn’t. It got a bit of fire back in me. I liked the boy, he was too nice to me to start off and I couldn’t get any aggression into me. So, I thought I better up my game or the fight was gonna go the other way.”

Tony DixonThe 27-year-old Welshman had established momentum by the middle rounds and Khan’s replies became more infrequent. Dixon pressed on, giving Khan no respite and the pattern was repeated in the closing rounds. A high pace was set and Dixon, spurred on by coach Paul Paveltish, always had the first and last say.

They veered from corner to corner and energy levels appeared to deplete, until Dixon summoned the strength for one last surge. He launched a huge onslaught in the 10th and final round and the referee would’ve been justified in halting the action. Khan withstood the punches until the final bell. As the visitor regained his breath, Dixon congratulated him on playing his part in a tougher than expected return to the ring.

He said: “To be honest, definitely he [the referee] should’ve stopped that. It was a lot of punishment and he [Khan] done well to stay on his feet. I’ll give him that, credit where it’s due.”

The fight served as an eliminator for the Commonwealth title held by Swansea’s Chris Jenkins, a friend of Dixon. It’s possible their paths could cross in the future and Dixon is lukewarm to the idea of fighting his friend.

“If it come down to it, obviously the money would have to be good. Me and Chris are good friends and hopefully it never comes to it but if it does, it does,” he said, with a hint of regret.

“Me and Chris go way back. We used to spar all the time; we’ve done loads of rounds together. He knows what I’m like and I know what he’s like. It’s going to be one of them fights, ‘who does it on the night.’

“He’s a good mate. I’d never slag him off and I don’t think he’d slag me off in that type of way, y’know. We are genuinely friends but what can you do about it?”

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Image by Sacha Wiener.

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