Kieron McLaren has declared he’ll be coming back “with a bang” when he attempts to get back to winning ways on fight night.
The home favourite will approach his next ring task in a “vicious” way, when he goes for pro victory No 13 on Friday the 13th.
He features on BCB Promotions’ first offering in Stoke-on-Trent for 2020, which will take place at the King’s Hall on Friday March 13.
The 26-year-old, who was born and bred in Stoke, is the most experienced campaigner to occupy the home corner on the card.
McLaren sees pro action for the 15th time with 12 victories, one draw and a loss on his ledger, which occurred in that order.
‘Gunner’ debuted in 2014 and went on a long winning run, racking up a dozen successes while completing four, six and eight rounds along the way.
That put him into a position for the English super lightweight title, facing former champion Lee Appleyard in an eliminator.
He went up to 10 rounds to tackle Appleyard and completed the distance, leaving the referee (Michael Alexander) to decide who prevailed.
The official scored the contest a 95-95 draw, so a stalemate was the verdict. No rematch was forthcoming, so McLaren dropped down a weight.
Another eliminator, for the English crown at lightweight, followed against Maxi Hughes, who is a two-time British title contender.
Hughes hurt him early on and kept pressing to score a TKO inside four rounds, McLaren’s undefeated streak ending in the process.
McLaren, who is coached by Danny Johnson, plans to remain at 135lbs, though, and believes he showed his mettle, even in defeat.
He said: “To be honest, I’ve learned more in the last two than I did over my 12 wins. It’s definitely changed me, as a fighter.
“To box Lee away from home, in his own backyard, and come away with a draw, most people in the boxing world will know what that result really should have been.
“Those who were there, a lot of them had me two to three rounds up, so I know that I gave a really good account of myself.
“That turned out to be my last time at super lightweight, I know what my division is now and I’m going to stay and settle at lightweight.
“Maybe I under-estimated Maxi’s power, a little bit, and he punished me with body shots which took a lot out of me.
“We both went for the same punch, in the first round, and he got there a split second before me with a straight back hand to the solar plexus. It took me a couple of rounds to recuperate.
“When the referee (John Latham) stopped it, he told I’d have gone out on my shield, if he hadn’t done something. He’s right, you’d have to kill me to get me out of there.
“I’ve proved I won’t give up and that I can dig in to deep places. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise, because I haven’t got my ‘0’ to worry about anymore.
“You get an automatic ban (starting from 28 days, from the British Boxing Board of Control) for being stopped and I also got a bad cut above my right eye.
“I couldn’t get going again until the doctor passed me fit, so I’ve had a bit of a lull, but I’ve really enjoyed being back in the gym since then.
“I’ve got plenty left in me, I’m not scared of anyone and I’m looking forward to the future. 2020 is going to be a big year.
“I’m dead hungry to get in there now, I’m going to be coming back with a bang, because I’ll be a lot more vicious. I’ll be sharp and stinging my opponent.”
Home favourite Nathan Heaney tops the King’s Hall bill, ahead of further attempts to get a crack at national level. He instead goes for the IBO Continental bauble.
‘The Hitman,’ the last to hold the Midlands middleweight title, has raced to nine victories from nine outings, with three TKOs along the way.
That included outpointing Tom Stokes for the vacant area crown in a 10-rounder last year, which formed part of 33 rounds boxed in total during 2019.
Serge Ambomo and Daniel Urbanski, the former a 2012 Olympian and the latter a one-time foe of Gennady Golovkin, were also seen off over the distance.
His last outing and stoppage came against Nelson Altamirano, who folded in the fifth of six scheduled rounds. He’d previously halted Martin Kabrhel and Sean Gorman.
Heaney, now aged 30, debuted in late 2017 with a points whitewash over Darryl Sharp, after a stellar amateur career with South Staffs Boxing Club, who he represented in 90 fights.
Two more paid pugilists from Stoke feature, as part of the supporting cast, with Cole Johnson and Atal Khan set to occupy the home corner.
Johnson is another part of the lightweight division and has notched five points successes so far, having taken every round along the way.
Simas Volosinas, Reynaldo Cajina, Dean Evans, Ibrar Riyaz and Dean Jones have been vanquished by Johnson, who is in his third year as a pro.
He previously became a national titleist as an amateur, claiming England Senior Development honours in 2017, as a graduate of Orme Boxing Club.
Southpaw Khan is a super lightweight who has his hand raised twice so far, as a pro, remaining unbeaten with no rounds lost going toe-to-toe with Riyaz and Matt ‘MJ’ Hall.
He got his amateur grounding with the Impact Boxing and later Orme gyms, racking up 28 victories from 42 unpaid contests.
Luke Caci is another product of the Orme fight factory, who will reach double figures when he steps through the ropes for a 10th time in the pro code.
The super middleweight, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, is still undefeated with nine wins and one TKO, halting Bryn Wain in the fifth of six rounds.
Making the trip from across the Midlands are Connor Parker and Leon Gower, who are from Woodville in Derbyshire and Burton-on-Trent respectively.
Parker is looking to bounce back from a first pro defeat, with Sam Maxwell taking his ‘0’ through a seventh round stoppage for the WBO European super lightweight bauble.
He can redress the balance with a 13th pro success, the most notable of which saw him become Midlands champion at the expense of Kevin Hooper.
The left-hander upset the odds to force the retirement of the experienced Hooper, a former Midlands and English titleist, at the end of the fifth round during their 2018 meeting.
Gower came up short in his attempt at area glory that year with his nemesis, Brad Foster, going on to win British and Commonwealth super bantamweight belts.
He now returns, after missing all of 2019, with a desire to quickly build upon his six wins, with three TKOs already in the bag.
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