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I'm in this to win world title: Cathy McAleer eager to emulate Katie Taylor with quick-fire boxing rise



Ring star: Cathy McAleer is put through her paces during training with John Breen at his gym in west Belfast

Ring star: Cathy McAleer is put through her paces during training with John Breen at his gym in west Belfast

Ring star: Cathy McAleer is put through her paces during training with John Breen at his gym in west Belfast

Cathy McAleer hopes this Saturday night will be another step along the road to following in the footsteps of women's world lightweight champion Katie Taylor.

The 40-year-old insists she is ready to be fast-tracked to a world title shot and while Poland's Sonia Klos should not prove too troublesome, McAleer is hoping for some serious tests in 2019.

A former world karate and kick-boxing champion, McAleer has her sights on boxing glory. Having made her debut in November, the Belfast woman is eager to stay busy and shoot up the rankings and this Saturday will be part of the supporting bill to former European champion James Tennyson in the Ulster Hall.

With the depth in women's boxing not at the same level as the men, it has allowed fighters such as Taylor and fellow Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams to quickly march towards title opportunities and while she does not have the same amateur background, McAleer feels she is developing rapidly under the guidance of coach John Breen.

"When I look at what Katie Taylor has done, fighting for a world title in her fifth fight, it's a real inspiration. Katie has done a lot for women's boxing and I feel that I have come along at a good time for the sport," said McAleer, who boxes around super-fly and bantamweight.

"Nicola Adams is someone who would be on my radar, she is boxing for the world flyweight title and maybe if she moves up a division that could be a fight for me.

"In my first fight I boxed a girl with 10 pro fights and that shows you that I want to be tested, I want to see if I'm out of my depth or if I can make it. I'm in this to be a world champion and it would be very special to have come from a martial arts background and then go on and win a world title."

McAleer immediately struck up a good relationship with coach Breen after the first time she worked out with the Irish boxing legend on the pads and his experience along with the skills of former Commonwealth champion Eamonn Magee came to the fore on her debut.

"I got a bad cut in the first round after a head clash and it really disorientated me. I felt like I was fighting through fire to the end of the round. But John reassured me in the corner and Eamonn did a great job in stopping the cut and I was able to settle down and focus on fighting hard to get the win," added McAleer, who is looking forward to chalking up a second victory on Saturday night.

"Now I'm really excited about boxing in the Ulster Hall as a professional boxer. The nerves are kicking in a bit and making weight in the week leading up to a fight is never easy - particularly when you like your food!

"Changing from kick-boxing to boxing has not been too difficult for me, I just had to get used to not having to worry about getting kicked and not to spin and land a back fist when against the ropes.

"That would have been an automatic reaction for me and the first spar I had in John's gym I almost did it when I got pushed back. John thought I had turned my back and then I explained that I almost spun round before landing a punch and he just said, 'Don't be doing that again'.

"I'm feeling in good shape and I'm hoping that this time things will be a bit straightforward and I can stick to my boxing and do a good job."

McAleer is the sole female Northern Ireland professional and was recently shortlisted for the Electric Ireland Game Changer category at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards last month.

Clare McAllister of Electric Ireland said: "We were delighted to see Cathy nominated for the Electric Ireland Game Changer award at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards recently, the award is designed to recognise and reward the many strong sporting women who are blazing a trail in their own chosen sport.

"We wish Cathy all the best in her big fight on February 9."

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