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Conrad Cummings and Fredo Meli bout is taking us right back in time

By David Kelly

Whichever way you look at tonight's main event in the Waterfront Hall, it seems guaranteed that Conrad Cummings and Fredo Meli will serve up a full throttle battle those in attendance will savour.

Indeed, Northern Ireland fight fans will tonight get a taste of what boxing used to be like in the halcyon days of the Ulster Hall and King's Hall.

In the 1940s through to the 1960s, local men regularly came together and delivered fights to remember. They may be unknown to the general public today but the old timers will still talk about true warriors such as Gerry Hasset, Patsy Quinn, Peter Sharp and Jim Keery's epic duels with Mickey O'Neill - to name a few.

Step forward Cummings and Meli - two young professionals with unbeaten records seeking a pathway to a British title shot.

Tonight, the vacant British Boxing Board of Control's Celtic middleweight title is on the line and for many it has been the first significant step along the road to greater glory. That was the case for Carl Frampton, who Cummings trains alongside in London under the guidance of coach Shane McGuigan.

Coalisland man Cummings will enter the arena as the favourite, with manager Barry McGuigan insisting that he can propel himself into major fights in 2016.

Cummings, who headlines for the first time, said: "Barry and Shane have seen what I can do in the gym and now I want them to see it in the ring.

"It's a big night for me, it's my chance to show that I can be a headline act and I believe that I will handle the occasion.

"I'm the opposite of Carl. He's very cool and laid back but I'm a bit more wired up and extreme so it's just a case of staying calm and Shane is very good at keeping me focused. He's made a big difference to me.

"Meli's a good fighter and I respect him, he throws lots of punches, but I believe that I will just be too big for him. He'll be shocked when he feels my power."

Former British featherweight champion Martin Lindsay is part of the Meli camp, based in the Immaculata club, and he expects to see a hot pace from the first bell to the last.

"Fredo is one of the most determined guys you're going to meet and I've no doubt he'll be standing there at the end after 10 rounds," said Lindsay.

"Fredo will fight fire with fire and he'll ask questions about Conrad's whiskers. He's had some great sparring for this fight and the only way I see this fight not going the distance is if he puts Cummings down.

"The way I see it, all the pressure is on Conrad and Fredo has nothing to lose."

It is also an important night for popular featherweight Marc McCullough, who is seeking to drive back into contention for a British or Commonwealth title shot.

McCullough - who suffered a shock defeat in the summer - is facing Spain's former European title challenger Sergio Prado in a 10-rounder.

McCullough said: "I had been lined up to face Jon Slowey so I've had to adapt my training. It's a really good fight for me because I hope to be back in the top 10 in Europe and it means that big opportunities should open up for me again."

The supporting bill, which starts at 6.45pm, features Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paddy Gallagher as well as fellow Belfast men Matt Wilton and Paul Hyland. Coalisland's Fergal McCrory makes his debut and hot Scottish prospect Josh Taylor is also on the bill.

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