McCloskey looking to bridge European gap at The King's Hall; Ian Bailey Looks To Make Up For Prizefighter Disappointment

European Champion Paul McCloskey and Giuseppe Lauri come face to face for the first time outside The King's Hall earlier today ahead of their title fight on Friday's Yanjing Beer Fight Night. It's been almost three decades since a European Champion last graced the ring at the King's Hall in Belfast. On that November night in 1983 Barry McGuigan wrapped the famous blue belt around his waist having dispatched Italian Valerio Nati in 6 rounds to capture the European Featherweight crown..

Nati's compatriot Giuseppe Lauri will be hoping for better luck when European Championship boxing finally returns to The King's Hall on Friday when Light Welterweight Champion Paul McCloskey makes the first defence of his crown on the Yanjing Fight Night. Lauri arrived in Belfast last night ahead of the clash and the 34-year-old challenger is confident that he has what it takes to bring the European belt back to Italy.

With Lauri having scored 50 wins from his 56 professional outings to date McCloskey knows that he can't afford to look past his opponent despite talk of a world title opportunity being just around the corner. “You can't afford to lose you're focus in this game,” warned McCloskey.

“It only takes a singe punch to turn things around in this sport and you go from hero to zero so there's no danger of me taking my eye off the ball at this stage. I've worked too hard to get where I am to let it slip away and all that's on my mind now is beating Giuseppe Lauri and keeping hold of that European title.

“It's hard to believe that it's nearly 30 years since there has been a European title fight at The King's Hall. When you look at the names that have fought here over the years with men like McGuigan and “Spider” Kelly who sadly passed away recently it makes you realise what an honour it is to headline a bill there. All the greats have fought there so it shows you the kind of standards you have to live up to and hopefully I can deliver the right performance on the night to send everybody home happy.”

McCloskey's first defence of his European Light Welterweight title against mandatory challenger Giuseppe Lauri tops the bill at The King's Hall while in the chief support bout Lurgan's Stephen Haughian clashes with former British Champ Kevin McIntyre for the Celtic Welterweight title.

The bill has also been boosted by the news that former WBA Light Welterweight Champion and recent Prizefighter winner Gavin Rees has been added to the card as he takes on recent Commonwealth title challenger Sam Amoako. Cavan's Andy Murray also features as the undefeated European number 3 looks to take another step closer to a European title fight with namesake, John Murray. Barry McGuigan's protege Carl Frampton will have his first professional fight in his native city while fellow unbeaten Belfast prospect Jamie Conlan is also in action.

Local middleweight duo Joe Rea and Ciaran Healy have also been added to the card with the pair looking to end the unbeaten records of Kris Carslaw and Harry Matthews respectively while unbeaten Cuban sensation Luis Garcia will look to continue his perfect record against Welsh hard man Nathan King.

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.

Belfast Bound Ian Bailey Looks To Make Up For Prizefighter Disappointment

Slough’s Ian Bailey is set to face the heavily touted prospect Carl Frampton on the undercard of, the Matchroom Sports promoted, Paul McCloskey’s European Light Welterweight title defense against veteran Italian Giuseppe Lauri at the King’s Hall In Belfast on Friday 11th June.

Those that watched the Sky televised Prizefighter - The Super Bantamweights a couple of weeks ago will remember that Bailey, who was one of the two reserves for the tournament, was the loser of the hastily arranged coin toss to decide who would replace Ricky Owens and face Willie Casey in the final for the £32,000 prize.

Boxing can be a cruel sport, by losing the coin toss Bailey not only missed the chance to kick start his career, by boxing live on TV, but also suffered an immediate net loss of £14,000.

Following his final training session, under the watchful eyes of his co-trainers Johnny Eames and Derek Grainger, at the Ultrachem TKO Gym in Canning Town the diminutive 26 year old spoke of that cruelest of moments, “It would have been a great opportunity to have fought on the Prizefighter show.

I don’t remember much of the coin toss, just seeing the wrong side of the coin. I felt faint, and could have cried after seeing I’d lost the toss. To have come in as the reserve for the final would have been awesome.”

Bailey then spoke of his opponent on the 11th June, “I’ve never seen him fight, I’ve seen a brief clip of him as an amateur. He’s built like me physically short. He likes getting physical, working hooks and body shots. Matthew (Marsh) down here at TKO sparred him, he said he likes to work on the inside so I’ve just got to go on what he said. He’s compact and likes to throw a lot of body shots. Similar to Ben (Murphy) here, maybe a bit neater that that, but not as strong as him.

He won the Irish ABAs, or whatever it’s called, so he’s a good fighter. It’ll be a clash of similar styles, so should be a good exciting fight. I like it when people come and stand in front of me. It’ll be a good old punch up.“

Frampton, and his mentor Barry McGuigan, may think they have an easy opponent, due to Bailey’s misleading 5-4 record, but the plucky Bailey may turn out to be their worse nightmare as Sheffield's Steve Barnes, another previously highly regarded prospect, will attest.

Ian Bailey vs Carl Frampton will be on the undercard of the Sky Sports Televised Paul McCloskey versus Giuseppe Lauri European Light Welterweight at the King’s Hall In Belfast on Friday 11th June

Article posted on 09.06.2010

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