Sport

Leapai title fight deal close

MAIN OBSESSION: Noel Thornberry is training Alex Leapai for the world heavyweight title.
MAIN OBSESSION: Noel Thornberry is training Alex Leapai for the world heavyweight title. Rob Williams

UPDATE, 12PM: The Alex Leapai fight has been confirmed for Germany on April 26.

GATTON boxing trainer Noel Thornberry says an announcement on where Alex Leapai will fight for the world heavyweight boxing title will be made within the next 24 to 48 hours.

"We've agreed in principle," Thornberry said.

"I'm just waiting for the terms and conditions.

"I expect a draft copy shortly."

Thornberry is more than your average boxing trainer.

Your average boxing trainer hasn't trained two world champions and possibly a third come April.

But that's not it either.

Thornberry doubles as negotiator for number one contender Alex Leapai.

He also owns a real estate business and runs a farm.

But make no mistake, boxing is his obsession.

"I used to dream about it when I was a kid," he said.

"I never read a comic book. I don't think I ever read a school book either."

Instead, it was boxing magazines he read.

"I was fascinated going back to guys like (Rocky) Marciano and (Joe) Walcott," Thornberry said.

It led to an obsession to one day be a world champion himself.

"I wanted it more than most people who've got it," he said. "I would lie in bed and think so much about it, I would be sweating."

It was not to be, however.

The number two ranked middle weight in Australia was as high as he got before he realised his future lay in training.

His little brother Ricky was the catalyst.

Perhaps if he'd had someone like himself to train him, it would have been different.

"I used to train under a tree in the backyard with a carton of beer beside me," Noel said.

"I had no guidance. Then Rick said he wanted to give it a good dig."

Thornberry found he was well suited to training.

"My mind was so much on sport, and the sport of boxing," he said.

"I was always finding ways to exploit an opponent's weakness and increase our own strengths. It was in my interest to become as good a trainer as I could because of my brother."

Leapai has been the most recent beneficiary of Thornberry's obsession and will fight Wladimir Klitschko for the WBO heavyweight title in Europe in April.

Topics:  alex leapai noel thornberry wbo wladimir klitschko



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