Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Barry McGuigan breathes new life into local boxing

Daddy's girl: Carl Frampton with daughter Carla at yesterday's press conference at the Europa Hotel

Opportunity for success in the professional ring has become harder and harder in recent years for Northern Ireland boxers, so Barry McGuigan's announcement of an exciting Odyssey Arena show has given many of them a new optimism.

One such fighter is Jamie Conlan who will be part of the October 19 bill which is headed by Carl Frampton's European super-bantamweight title defence against Frenchman Jeremy Parodi.

Unbeaten prospect Conlan has been matched with hard Frenchman Hassan Azaouagh in a WBO European super-flyweight title fight over 12 rounds, while arguably the fight of the night will come at featherweight when Shankill road prospect Marc McCullough clashes with former European champion Willie Casey for the vacant Irish belt.

Add to that Commonwealth Games gold medallist Eamonn O'Kane taking on former European champion Kerry Hope as well as Ricky Hatton protege Ryan Burnett and it's a refreshing line-up of local talent.

Former World champion McGuigan believes he has set down a marker for what fight fans can expect from his Cyclone Promotions company in the coming months and years – on the back of flagship fighter Frampton.

McGuigan said: "You hear it all the time, fighters getting frustrated because they don't get the opportunities – they need to be training for a goal and we are giving these lads their chances.

"I believe that Jamie Conlan can become a world champion, he can follow on the back of Carl just the way other fighters followed on from me in the 1980's.

"Conlan is a great prospect and he's going in with a dangerous French guy who can punch. That's going to be a great fight and McCullough against Casey has everyone talking.

"Willie is a former European champion, he can really hit and Marc is another up and coming prospect.

"I said that I would bring exciting shows to Belfast and this is the start. The fans here know their boxing and we are looking to give them 50-50 fights.

"We have so much talent here and they deserve their chance and already the response to the show has been terrific."

Conlan, whose career was slow burning up until a British title eliminator win earlier this year, now feels he is ready for lift-off.

"This is a massive opportunity for me. Some will say it's a tough fight at this stage of my career but these are the fights I want and I'm very confident," said Conlan.

Other Belfast fighters featuring on the bill are unbeaten James Tennyson and Daniel McShane.

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