GARY CORNISH, the undefeated 6ft 7in heavyweight from Inverness with pretentions of winning a Lonsdale Belt, will have his 13th fight in Sunderland this evening when he faces the Croat Jakov Gospic in arguably his toughest test to date.

Cornish's every move will be analysed by his trainer, Laurie Redfern, to gauge what the 25-year-old has learned from sparring sessions with the star of this evening's show, the cruiserweight Jon-Lewis Dickinson, and the British champion David Price.

No-one knows the amiable Cornish better than the man who has moulded his career after spending most of his life around boxing since first pulling on a pair of gloves at the age of 10 in his native Birkenhead.

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More than half a century on, Redfern is at last enjoying the plaudits he is due for his services to the sport. Redfern rarely walks down a street in the Highland capital without someone wanting to shake his hand in recognition of the job he is doing developing the talents of the fighter he believes is capable of fulfilling promoter Tommy Gilmour's dream of being the first to manage a Scots-born British heavyweight champion.

Given that those born south of the border still tend to be viewed with a degree of suspicion in that area of the country, even three centuries after events at nearby Culloden, Redfern's popularity says much about the role he has played in local sporting affairs.

For more than 20 years he has dedicated his life to offering youngsters a vehicle to escape the temptations of a misspent youth. Just how many of them would have fallen into a life of crime but for the existence of Inverness City Boxing Club is impossible to say.