A former world heavyweight boxing champion will go toe to toe in the ring with Accrington Stanley’s owner Ilyas Khan.
Reds saviour Khan vowed to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to ensure the League Two club’s survival, and has been given the ultimate chance to prove it - with gloves and trunks.
The spectacular challenge has been issued by giant Philadelphian pugilist ‘Terribl’' Tim Witherspoon, former WBC and WBA heavyweight belt holder.
Promoter Dave O’Neill is finalising the fight details, but the bespectacled multi-millionnaire will probably square up to 6ft 4' Witherspoon over three rounds at a Dunkenhalgh Hotel fundraiser in June.
The Thriller in Manila and the Rumble in the Jungle are among the greatest fights in the annals of boxing history, but they are set to be joined by the Whacky in Accy.
Twice crowned world champion in 1984 and 1986, Witherspoon fought under the Don King stable, and is a former sparring partner of Mohammed Ali.
He has boxed legends Larry Holmes and James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith, and dismantled British favourite Frank Bruno in 1986. He ended 38 of his 69 professional bouts by KO.
Underdog Khan, who has pledged to box ‘in full Stanley regalia’, will also be giving away four inches in height and an estimated six stones.
But at 47, he is five years his opponent's junior and he is dedicating himself to a punishing training regime with ‘Team Khan’ secret weapon Ian McKenna, a Rossendale-based boxer and former school pal. Khan roared: "If you can take on Accrington Stanley, then taking on Tim Witherspoon is nothing. Bring it on!"
Fresh-faced Khan is unbeaten - having never fought competitively before - and he has also landed an early psychological blow by boasting freely about his tactics.
He said: "I’m taking it very seriously from a fitness point of view. And I’m hoping he will have had rather a lot to drink beforehand. Hopefully he will be asleep, and I will be out of reach. The biggest danger is that he sometimes forgets it's a charity bout and thinks he’s back in Madison Square Garden."
Khan added: "I used to box when I was a boy, but it's fair to say that the standards I reached were not quite the standards Mr Witherspoon reached."
He is also counting on the support of Stanley staff and players, who are sure to be right behind him...with an excellent view of the action. The Stanley charity night will raise funds for Leonard Cheshire Disability, of which Mr Khan is chairman. The charity is currently raising money for the Blackburn Cathedral Appeal.