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Cool Meli ready for good test as McCrory aims to make mark

Unbeaten: Fredo Meli is ready for his biggest challenge
Unbeaten: Fredo Meli is ready for his biggest challenge
David Kelly

By David Kelly

To say that Fredo Meli is feeling relaxed ahead of the biggest test of his career would seem to be an understatement in the extreme.

Jamie Conlan, brother of Michael and chief organiser of tonight's event at the Falls Park, says Meli's clash with fellow unbeaten fighter, German Araik Marutjan, could easily be the fight of the night as both men move up in class.

But middleweight Meli, a full-time mechanic, has been chilled out - even managing to avoid Thursday's final media conference.

"I got a call from Fredo just asking if it was vital that he was at the public work-out on Wednesday and the press conference on Thursday because he explained to me he had a wedding to go to in Cavan!" explained Conlan with more than a modicum of bemusement.

"Fredo's a pretty cool character and he's certainly showing it this week. You wouldn't think he had such a tough test ahead of him.

"It's a big night for both men, to be fair. Marutjan is looked after by Sauerland Promotions and they were keen for their man to have a good test so we should be in for a very good scrap."

The card also features Belfast's Padraig McCrory in a good eight-rounder with Dubliner Steve Collins jnr, son of the former world middle and super-middleweight champion.

"I feel I'm ready for this test. It has come at the right time for me and it's great to be a part of this show," said super-middleweight McCrory.

Last summer Collins was a stepping stone to bigger nights for Belfast light-heavyweight Steven Ward but has subsequently moved down in weight.

"I couldn't believe how easily I was able to drop down to super-middleweight and I think McCrory will find out that he has made a mistake facing me at this point in his career," said Collins.

Former World title challenger Paddy Barnes will seek to spark his career back into life with a victory over Joel Gonzalez of Nicaragua.

The Belfast man, who last summer lost in a WBC flyweight title fight, now has his long term sights on campaigning for titles at light-flyweight.

"I want to have a couple of fights and then when I feel the time is right move down to light-fly. The important thing is to stay busy and keep the weight down so I can move down to light-flyweight where I feel I'll be more effective - just the way I was as an amateur," he said.

Rising prospect Sean McComb should have an interesting test from Frenchman Renald Garrido, a colourful journeyman who has been in with many aspiring champions, including Belfast's Tyrone McKenna, whom he took the distance.

"Garrido has never been stopped so I'd love to be the first man to do that," said McComb.

The Belfast light-welterweight has already given signs of his potential and another eye-catching display is expected tonight.

Another intriguing clash on this Top Rank card is the duel between Dubliner Luke Keeler and American Luis Arias, who has lost only once in 19 fights.

First bell is at 5.00pm.

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