UK Boxing: McCloskey vs Lauri; Johanneson vs Malek; Stevie McGuire

European Champion Paul McCloskey has teamed up with old rival Colin Lynes as he steps up preparations for the first defence of his title on the Yanjing Beer Fight Night at the Kings Hall, Belfast on Friday, June 11th.

McCloskey headlines a big night of championship boxing at one of the sports legendary venues when he takes on 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..

In preparation for the bout McCloskey has been clocking up the rounds isparring with former opponent Lynes at trainer John Breen's Gym in Belfast. The undefeated Dungiven southpaw relieved Lynes of his British title in 2008 and the Londoner has also enjoyed a stint as European Champion so he knows all about preparing for European title fights.

“Colin's a very sharp, snappy fighter so it's been excellent work so far,” said McCloskey. “The fact that we have fought before doesn't really come into it where sparring is concerned because it's very different to actually fighting. On fight night you're in there to win and that's you're sole objective where as in sparring you are more concerned with working on aspects of your own game and tweaking things here and there so it's a very different mentality.”

Lynes has also enjoyed his time in Belfast. “The sparring has been great so far and I think it's just what we both need,” said Lynes. “I've been sparring really well and Paul seems to getting better and better every day. He'll be looking to build towards a peak as the fight approaches because you don't want to leave you're best behind you in the gym and have nothing left come fight night.

“I think Paul is improving as a fighter the whole time. He's had a coupe of good wins since he beat me and winning the European title will have made him an even better fighter.

“Paul is good enough to beat Lauri wherever the fight takes place but they have done very well to get Paul home advantage and get the fight to the King's Hall because I know from first hand experience that it's very difficult to get a fair crack of the whip in Italy.”

McCloskey belies he has what it take to see off the challenge of Lauri despite the Italian's impressive record of 50 wins from his 56 professional bouts. “Lauri's a very solid fighter and has all the fundamentals,” said McCloskey.

“He's very experienced and he's quite crafty but I believe I'm a level above him. I've never lacked confidence and I honestly believe I can go as far as I want to go in boxing. As long as I prepare right and put in the hard work then I have every confidence in my ability. My weights exactly where I would want it to be right now and I 'm very happy with my fitness so everything is going to plan right now.”

By the end of the year McCloskey hopes to be on the cusp of a World title shot but for now he's refusing to look past the challenge of Lauri. “I'm just focused on getting this defence out of the way first, everything else is just talk and speculation after that. Ideally I'd like to defend the European title again before moving on to World level but if a World title opportunity comes my way in the meantime and it makes sense then I won't need to be asked twice.

“Light Welterweight is probably the most completive division in World boxing right now with guys like Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana but I don't fear any of those guys and I'd relish the opportunity of fighting any of them.”

The Yanjing Beer Fight Night will also feature a second title fight on the card when Lurgan's Stephen Haughian takes on former British Champ Kevin McIntyre for the Celtic Welterweight title. Cavan's Andy Murray also features as the undefeated European number 3 looks to take another step close to a European title fight with namesake, John Murray.
Rising Belfast star Carl Frampton will get a chance to fight in his hometown for the first time as a pro. The Barry McGuigan managed super bantamweight is unbeaten in his first 5 professional outings and tipped for for big things in the paid ranks.

Another exciting new Belfast talent out to extend his unbeaten record at the King's Hall will be flyweight Jamie Conlan while 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.

Johanneson Ready For Malek

CARL JOHANNESON hopes to put the pressure on British super-featherweight champion Gary Sykes this week.

Sykes (14-0) makes the first defence of his British super-featherweight title against Kevin O’Hara (17-5) at Huddersfield Leisure Centre on Friday (28th May).

And former domestic champion Johanneson (28-4) has an outing on the same card when he meets Pole Arek Malek in six round catchweight bout.

Promoter Frank Maloney is eager to match the West Yorkshire rivals later this year and says: “Carl is desperate for the fight and taking on Malek proves that.

“It was proving impossible to match Carl, and all we could get at short notice was Malek who usually boxes at light-welterweight and is much bigger.”

Johanneson recently made a comeback after losing the British title to Kevin Mitchell two years ago and is keen to mix it with Huddersfield’s Sykes.

The Leeds puncher, 31, said: “I know that given a chance I can get my old title back from Gary.

“It was a tremendous achievement for him to beat Andy Morris and I think he will beat Kevin O’Hara this week.

“A clash with me is a natural and would put Yorkshire boxing back on the map because it seems to be forgotten at times.”

Malek (7-24-2) might have a patchy record, but is durable and been the distance with the like of Young Mutley, Craig Dickson, David Barnes, Lee McAllister and Nigel Wright.

Also on the bill is Blackpool light-middleweight Brian Rose (14-0-1) who boxes an eight rounder against Jamaican born Brummie Max Maxwell (11-9-2).

There are some tickets left price £30 and £70 from 0871 226 1508 or


Stevie McGuire will aim to put himself back into the British title picture in his hometown of Glenrothes on June 4th

The former British super-middleweight title challenger faces old foe Jamie Ambler at the Gilvenbank Hotel in a show promoted by his father Stevie Snr. This is probably a father has promoted his own son, certainly in Scotland.

McGuire – whose sole loss in 17 fights was in a national title challenge to Ulsterman Brian Magee in December 2008 – beat Ambler on points two years ago.

But the durable Welshman should be the perfect foe for the 28 year-old as he looks to land a title shot at light-heavyweight.

Manager Tommy Gilmour said: “Stevie had a year off after losing to Magee in order to recharge his batteries, but he came back earlier this year against Hastings Rasani and looked better than ever.

“The move up to light-heavyweight suits him because he no longer has to struggle to make the weight and I’ve no doubt that he’s not too far away from a title challenge in the higher weight division.

“Ambler is the perfect match for him because he’s a natural light-heavyweight and has been in with some of the division’s top fighters. He’s also very durable, so it’s unlikely that Stevie will stop him and he will be able to get some rounds behind him.

“The British and European champion is Nathan Cleverly, but he is likely to move up to world level soon so there will be an opportunity to go for one of those titles soon and Stevie has got to be in contention if he keeps winning.”

The undercard sees two intriguing all-Scottish clashes with Bearden super-featherweight Richard Barclay facing Dundee’s Arran McKelvie, whilst Govanhill’s Ryan McNicol takes on Edinburgh super-bantamweight David Cowan.

Article posted on 26.05.2010

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