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Boxing: Magee must win or stare retirement full in the face

By David Kelly

Brian Magee is walking a tightrope tomorrow night with no safety net for his career.

Magee has lost his last three title fights, turned 32 in June and has moved up a division in order to pursue his title ambitions.

The Belfast man knows that the unforgiving business of boxing means he either propels forward with a victory over British light-heavyweight champion Tony Oakey tomorrow night in Dublin's Point Depot or stares retirement full in the face.

"Well, where else do you go?" said the challenger's manager Pat Magee as he watches his fighter go about a sparring session with Danny Thornton.

Thornton is not in the same class as Oakey, but has the strength and will to keep putting pressure on Magee, whose gameplan is an open secret.

Keep the champion at long range at the route to victory should be smooth.

Then he can start thinking about European and World title fights.

"Oakey knows only one way to fight and that is coming forward. He does it very well - he just keeps coming and coming at you," said Magee, who is part of a double header with European super-bantamweight champion Bernard Dunne.

"He loves to stand and have a real fight.

"His win over Steve Spartacus in his last fight when he won the title was one of his best wins so he's on a real high.

"I just have to stay focused on what I want to do and I am confident that I have the boxing skills to take the title.

"Having lost to Reid, the European title fight against (Vitali Tyspko) which I know I won in Germany and then to Froch last year (for the British super-middle title), I know how important this fight is."

Magee earned his chance at the title and a 50-50 split of the £56,000 purse bid when he defeated Andrew Lowe in an eliminator in January.

" I think I showed in that fight that I am strong at the weight and I have developed even more into the weight.

"I've been doing some weights and that has helped, and I also had some input from Kerri Kayes who works as a conditioner with Ricky Hatton.

"At super-middleweight the last few pounds were really hurting.

" I was thinking so much about the weight leading up to fights that it was taking away from my boxing.

"Now I feel great and as sharp as I have ever felt. I'm ready to win the title."

Should Magee grab the Lonsdale belt he would then be aiming for a shot at the European title or even a possible World title shot as his promoter Dennis Hobson has IBF champion Clinton Woods.

Manager Pat added: "If Brian wins then he has a lot of options and making the fight with Clinton Woods would not be hard - it's a very winnable fight for Brian."

Magee must first handle Oakey, who having claimed the British title four years after losing his WBU championship and being banned for a year after failing a drugs test, will be in no mood to let his belt slip away.

It is an historic night for the British title as it is the first time it will have been fought for south of the border and Magee should be bringing it north after a unanimous points victory.

It is also a big night for unbeaten Paul McCloskey who meets Italian Alfredo Di Feto in an eight-rounder.

Irish Olympian Andy Lee faces Belfast's Ciaran Healy in a six-rounder.

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