Stephen Haughian will kick off arguably the most exciting year for Irish boxing since promoter Barney Eastwood’s hey-day in the 1980s and early ’90s.
Lurgan welterweight prospect Haughian will top a bill on February 7 at Craigavon Leisure Centre as he hopes to take a major step towards Celtic and British title opportunities.
Belfast is then expected to play host to Paul McCloskey’s first defence of the British light-welterweight title in March, while on March 7 Martin Lindsay boxes Paul Appleby for the British featherweight title.
Added to that Martin Rogan is waiting to hear when he will be returning to the ring, while newly crowned British super-middleweight champion Brian Magee is also hoping to make a first de
fence of his title by the end of March or start of April.
Haughian is determined to catch the wave of optimism running through the sport and particularly in his own gym where Rogan and McCloskey are riding high after major successes at the end of 2008.
“They say success breeds success and I certainly think that’s the case in the gym at the minute,” said Haughian.
“Paul had a terrific win over Colin Lynes at short notice and I always fancied Martin to beat Harrison because of his attitude.
“He just loves a challenge and everyone in the gym is the same. The two lads are proof that if you put the work in the rewards can come your way so they’ve definitely been an inspiration to me.”
Haughian boasts a record of 16 wins and a solitary controversial defeat when losing on points to Giammario Grassellini for the IBF inter-continental title.
Haughian reversed that result last time out by outpointing Grassellini in November.
“I’d like to think this year will be a big one for me. Obviously it’s getting off to the best possible start with me headlining my own show and after that I’ll be looking for an Irish or Celtic title. After that I’d love a crack at either the British or Commonwealth titles,” added Haughian, who will have a ten rounder on February 7.
The supporting bill will feature former British welterweight champion Neil Sinclair.
Sinclair is still yearning to get back into contention for a crack at the Lonsdale belt before he hangs up his gloves.
Super-featherweight Kevin O’Hara will hope to kick-start his title aspirations on the show as well.
O’Hara’s career has been starting to slide but he remains determined to bounce back.
Tickets from Breen’s Gym, 02890 278708.