Maloney: I will lead McAleer to world glory
The opportunity to become a four-time world champion in a third code and to headline the first ever all-female boxing show in Northern Ireland is on offer for Cathy McAleer, who has linked up with Kellie Maloney in a management deal.
Belfast's McAleer has already won world titles in karate and kickboxing, while drawing in a K1 title fight, but has since fully moved into boxing where she has won her first three bouts.
A fourth, for the Commonwealth bantamweight title, was due to take place last September but the show fell through, as did another in autumn as the 41-year-old was left down, but far from out.
Instead, the John Breen-trained fighter made contact with Maloney and, after brief consideration, she agreed to take on the vastly talented McAleer, who will return to the ring at Villa Park on February 22.
"It was very frustrating as I had been training hard and did the sparring rounds - I covered 100 rounds - and was ready to go for an eight-round Commonwealth title fight," said McAleer at yesterday's press conference in the plush surroundings of the Merchant Hotel.
"My dream was coming true and all of a sudden it was taken away. Two weeks out and the fight was pulled for no reason. I could have impacted, so I just kept training with the hope a bit of luck would come.
"John was saying that anyone else would have thrown the head up by this stage but I said that something was bound to come up. I saw Kellie on the TV, so I read up on her and saw her passion was boxing so I made contact and got her to come back."
Maloney - formerly Frank - guided Lennox Lewis to the undisputed heavyweight title before stepping away from the sport in 2013 with well-publicised changes in her personal life taking place.
There was a brief return to boxing in 2015, but it took a private message from McAleer to prompt the Londoner to fully return to the sport in order to create what could be a little piece of history.
"I've always had to do it against the odds and, as Frank, I took Lennox Lewis to the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world," said Maloney, who has linked up with promoter Tommy Owens for McAleer's next three fights.
"Now, to come back as Kellie, my goal is to manage a world champion in a male gender and a female gender.
"I feel like Alex Ferguson being talked out of retirement because I was enjoying the sun in Portugal.
"I will bring Cathy back here for a title fight and I would also like her to headline in Belfast for the first ever all-female boxing show in the UK."
Maloney believes her new charge can become a world champion within 18 months with Breen - who says McAleer will be his last world champion - predicting it will happen in a shorter timeframe.
McAleer is simply happy to now have a plan in place given what transpired in the second half of last year and believes her career is now on the right track with Maloney's expertise to call upon.
"To have an actual plan is brilliant because the last couple of fights has been me waiting to see if one would come up," said McAleer, who will also work with physiologist Joe Dunbar.
"I haven't had a promoter and John was my manager, so John just said he would be my coach and let Kellie manage.
"That's the right decision for all of us because Kellie has made a plan and I know exactly what's happening.
"This couldn't be a better fit for me or for both of us as a team.
"I know I could fight for a title very soon, but I'm in no rush as I love the sport and I'm here for the long haul."