GARY Fox will go to war with Kirk Goodings after an English title “insult”.
Goodings makes the first defence of his belt against the Hartlepool-trained crowd-pleaser at Houghton-le-Spring a week on Friday.
But Fox “is in a bad mood” and out to make the Sunderland star pay for “looking past” his challenger.
Trainer Neil Fannan believes Goodings and his manager Phil Jeffries have made a mistake by agreeing a title defence on the big world championship show at Newcastle on Saturday, March 29.
If Goodings beats ‘The Fishburn Fox’ at Rainton Meadows Arena, he will put his belt on the line against unbeaten Yorkshire boxer Jamie Sampson on the undercard of the Stuart Hall v Martin Ward IBF bantamweight derby.
“I think Gary was up for the job anyway but they have helped us no end with this,” Fannan told SportMail.
“It has put Foxy in a bad mood, I think he sees it as a bit of an insult.
“They say they haven’t meant anything by it but, outwardly, it looks as if they see this as an easy fight in their eyes.
“Jaffa’s my mate and he said to me ‘it’s the winner of the Goodings v Fox fight who’ll defend against Sampson’.
“I said ‘then change it on the website’ but when you go on it still says Kirk Goodings v Jamie Sampson.
“I’m sure they wouldn’t disrespect me as trainer and I don’t suppose they’d disrespect Gary as a fighter – Jaffa is a pal and Kirk seems an all right lad.
“They say [promoter] Dennis Hobson has made all these arrangements but it does look as if they are thinking they are going to have an easy night.”
Fannan believes all this talk will inspire Fox to greater efforts and, even if he fails to wrest the belt from the 24-year-old, he will give him the fight of his life.
“Even if Kirk Goodings wins, I don’t think he’ll be in any fit state to box again three weeks later,” Fannan said.
“This is going to turn into a war and whatever the result, Kirk will know at the end of it that he’s been in a fight.
“If you asked me now if Gary would be able to defend the title against Sampson on March 29, I’d say ‘ask me on the eighth of March’.
“Tommy Ward is down to box at the Rainton Meadows Arena and the Metro Radio Arena.
“He will have a six rounder on both shows, but I won’t even think about the bout in Newcastle until after this one on the seventh.
“I think Kirk and his people are taking Foxy a little lightly.”
The 28-year-old has been preparing in the best possible way – by sparring with former WBA world lightweight championship challenger, John Murray.
The Manchester fighter is a top-class operator and Fannan has been encouraged by the displays of the former South Durham ABC favourite.
“Gary looks as right as rain,” he said. “He’s had some really good sparring with John and learned a trick or two.”
Goodings v Fox is the main event at Rainton Meadows Arena, where unbeaten Hartlepool star Peter Cope challenges for the British Masters super-featherweight belt.
Undefeated Poolie Mick Hadfield and Tommy Ward are also on the bill.
l FOR tickets, ring Neil on 07891101399.