By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
DEAN Francis is still dreaming of a world title shot at the ripe old age of 40. Francis will be one of the stars of a new eight-man light-heavyweight tournament which begins later this month and he hopes it can propel him nearer that title tilt.
The MaxiNutirtion Knockout, which will be shown live on Channel 5, starts at Rivermead in Reading on March 15.
The event, spread over six months, is being promoted by Mick Hennessey and Francis tops the bill in the first quarter-finals against Bob Ajisafe for the vacant British title.
In the other event opener, Leon senior will lock horns with Tony Hill for the Sorthern Area belt.
The second set of quarter-finals will take place on the Kid Galahad v Sergio Prado bill at Ponds Forge in Sheffield on March 22.
Danny McIntosh will meet Travis Dickinson for the English title while Matty Clarkson and Lee Duncan will fight in an eliminator for the same belt.
The venues and dates for the semi-finals and finals have yet to be decided but Francis wants to finish on top of the pile.
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The Basingstoke bruiser is a former British, Commonwealth and European champion with 34 wins, including 26 knockouts, in a 39-fight career.
He said: “My aspiration remains to fight for a world title and win it. That’s the dream I’m chasing and it starts with this tournament.
“The event has given me another platform where I can put myself in the public eye again.
“It’s on terrestrial TV as well - that’s the main deal, and back in Reading where I’ve had some of my first big fights, so it’s all good.”
But he knows that meeting 26-year-old English champion Ajisafe will be tough and added: “Everyone is saying that he has to be the hardest pick of the bunch.
“But I’m glad I’ve got him first. I’m confident, I wouldn’t get in the ring if I wasn’t confident.
“It raises your game if you’re going in against someone who you believe to be the best of the bunch.”
Ajisafe, who has won 11 of his 13 bouts, said: “The British title is the thing that’s driving me right now.
“That’s what means the most to me right now. I’ve waited a long time for this fight to take place and I’m staying focussed and my main aim is to win that belt.”
* THE Francis-Ajisafe fight will be shown live on Channel 5 from Rivermead, Reading, on March 15.