McCloskey and Haughian after title double at The King's Hall

Big time boxing returns to Belfast with a bang next month with a night of Championship boxing at the legendary Kings Hall. European Light Welterweight King Paul McCloskey headlines the Yanjing Beer Fight Night there on Friday, June 11th as he makes the first defence of his crown against mandatory challenger Giuseppe Lauri while the chief supporting bout will see Stephen Haughian taking on former British champ, Kevin McIntyre for the Celtic Welterweight title..

The duo who both made their professional debuts in the Kings Hall back in 2005 have been guided by top Belfast trainer John Breen throughout their careers and the ex-pro is confident that both charges will emerge victorious from their title showdowns. I think you'll see the best of Paul and Stephen next month, predicted Breen, a perfectionist who still managed to find faults with McCloskey's comprehensive triumph over Daniel Rasilla last November to lift the European title.

Paul is so far ahead of most of the guys he's been in with that he hasn't been properly tested yet, said Breen. He's World class and there's no doubt in my mind that he can win a World title. People talk about Amir Khan but I think that would be an easy fight for Paul. He's up there with the very best of them, he just needs the chance to prove it.

Breen has equally high hopes for Lurgan native Haughian ahead of his Celtic title assignment at The King's Hall. Stephen had a bit of bad luck of late but this is just the kind of fight he needs. In this game you have to grab any opportunities with both hands and I'm confident Stephen will do a job on McIntyre and show people what he's capable of.

Haughian believes that a win next month should be enough to secure him a straight track at the British title. It's been a frustrating time for me recently with fights falling through but this is the break I've been looking for, said the 25-year-old. I'm Irish Champion and I feel that a shot at the Celtic title is a good step for me now. I know that a good win against McIntyre will put me in the frame for an British title shot.

McIntyre however has designs on regaining his old Lonsdale belt. The 32-year-old Scot is a southpaw but that doesn't worry Haughian as he has a ready made sparring partner in Breen's Gym. Southpaw sparring doesn't come much better than Paul McCloskey, said Haughian. There's nothing that Kevin McIntyre will be able to show me that I haven't already seen from Paul in the gym. He's a world class operator and you can only improve from training and sparring with guys likes Paul on a daily basis.

Breen will be a busy man at The Kings Hall next month, aside from McCloskey and Haughian the no nonsense trainer will also be leading Andy Murray and Jamie Conlan in to battle. Murray, the current European number 3 at lightweight is chasing down a showdown with recently crowned European champ and namesake John Murray while flyweight Conlan is the latest of the Breen Team to enter the pro ranks and has already racked up 2 straight wins since turning professional last November.

Another Belfast man making big waves in the pro ranks is Barry McGuigan's protege Carl Frampton. The 23-year-old Super Bantamweight is unbeaten in his first five professional fights and relishing the prospect of fighting in his native city for the first time as a professional and at the venue in which his mentor had so many memorable nights.

Cuban sensation Alexei Acosta will also feature as he looks to continue a incredible knockout streak that has seen him stop all 10 of his professional opponents to date. Acosta, a World Junior Champion in the amateur ranks is now based in Cork having turned professional in 2008.

The Yanjing Beer Fight Night will be live on Sky Sports and tickets priced 30, 60 and 90 are available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets. Contact Ticketmaster 0844 8472455 (0818 719300 from ROI), Box Office 01277 359900, Julie 07745698372, Francie 07803282224.

McCloskey ready to defend European crown at The King's Hall

European Light Welterweight King Paul McCloskey has no intention of abdicating his throne when he faces mandatory challenger Giuseppe Lauri at The King's Hall, Belfast on Friday, June 11th. The undefeated Dungiven southpaw stretched his perfect record to 20 straight wins last time out with an impressive stoppage victory over Daniel Rasilla to capture the European crown and he says he's ready to fulfill another career milestone by headlining at the King's Hall next month. gTo headline a bill at a legendary venue like The King's Hall is a dream come true,h said McCloskey. gIt's such a historic venue and all the top boxers have fought there down through the years so to headline a bill there will be special.

McCloskey however is under no illusions that experienced Italian Giuseppe Lauri will be out to spoil the party and says he won't be taking anything for granted. "He is a tough, experienced customer and has only been beaten by the top guys like Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter. He has been at this level for a long time so he knows what it's all about and I know it won't be easy but as long as I perform to my best on the night then I'm confident that I'll beat him.h

McCloskey says he's determined not to be sidetracked by any talk regarding a possible World title fight in the near future. gIf I keep wining then I'm sure the World title shot will come my way but I can't afford to look beyond my next fight. I just have to win, and win in style to keep climbing the rankings and then hopefully a world title opportunity will present itself in the next 12 months.h

The June 11th event also marks promoter Barry Hearn's return to the Kings Hall having first promoted there in 1994 when the WBO Super Middleweight title rematch between Chris Eubank and Ray Close topped the bill.

gThe Kings Hall is synonymous with a tradition of world class boxing,h said Hearn. gIt's one of those venues that people automatically associate with great nights, great fights and great fighters, guys like Rinty Monaghan, Barry McGuigan, Dave McAuley, Johnny Caldwell and Freddie Gilroy.

gIt's a special venue and to headline it you need a special fighter and Paul McCloskey has certainly looked a bit special of late. He's an outstanding talent and reminds me a little of another southpaw who featured on one of my last Kings Hall promotions, a young man by the name of Sergio Martinez and he hasn't gone on to do badly has he?h, said Hearn referring to the man who defeated Kelly Pavlik last month to become the World Middleweight champion.

The event will be live on Sky Sports and tickets priced 30, 60 and 90 are available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets. Contact Ticketmaster 0844 8472455 (0818 719300 from ROI), Box Office 01277 359900, Julie 07745698372, Francie 07803282224.

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Article posted on 13.05.2010

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