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What was once a proud fight town full of life has changed dramatically this century. There are some clues to what came before but not nearly enough, writes a sombre Tris Dixon
HEYDAY: Frazier trains at his gym in 1974

IF I close my eyes and drift back in time, I see things in black and white and I can hear certain sounds.

I can hear the rusting chains of heavybags swinging and the collision of leather on leather as gloves hit them. I hear trainers barking instructions with violent intent – aggressive commands to do harm, to go to war – and I can see every detail, including beads of sweat tumbling off a fighter’s brow as he sits on a wooden bench and stares at the floor in front of him, unwrapping his throbbing hands.

You step outside, it’s still all black and white, and you can hear the rat-a-tat-tat of shoes on the sidewalk, a few diesel hungry cars shoot by and men wearing suits, hats and long overcoats, some holding furled up newspapers under their arms with the day’s betting odds marked in ink, look for money, recognition and opportunity. Some smoke cigarettes, a few puff on cigars.

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AWARDS SEASON – Rating the best fighters and fights of the year and decade THE POWER LIST – Ranking the 50 most influential figures in the sport today FEATURES GALORE – Frank Warren, Bob Arum and the 50 greatest boxing films MUCH, MUCH MORE – Inside our bumper 80-page Christmas special edition