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Meli determined to return after big body blow

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Fredo Meli says he will "come back better and stronger" following his ninth round stoppage defeat at the hands of WBO European middleweight champion Danny Dignum on Saturday night at the Brentwood Centre, Essex. (stock photo)

Fredo Meli says he will "come back better and stronger" following his ninth round stoppage defeat at the hands of WBO European middleweight champion Danny Dignum on Saturday night at the Brentwood Centre, Essex. (stock photo)

Fredo Meli says he will "come back better and stronger" following his ninth round stoppage defeat at the hands of WBO European middleweight champion Danny Dignum on Saturday night at the Brentwood Centre, Essex. (stock photo)

Fredo Meli says he will "come back better and stronger" following his ninth round stoppage defeat at the hands of WBO European middleweight champion Danny Dignum on Saturday night at the Brentwood Centre, Essex.

Keeping everything in perspective, family man Meli says the first thing he will do today is visit three-year-old Daithi MacGabhann, whose need of a heart transplant has been highlighted by many of Northern Ireland's top boxers - including Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes.

"Wee Daithi is a real inspiration to everyone. Losing a fight is nothing to what he is going through. I asked his parents for permission to use the symbol for his foundation and was proud to wear it. I hope as many as people as possible will donate to his cause," said Meli.

The Belfast man was more than holding his own after six competitive rounds but then a blistering body shot in the seventh sent him to the canvas and Dignum - whose size seemed a critical factor - took full control. Meli hit the canvas again in the eighth from another right hand to the body and then a left to the ribs brought the end a minute into the ninth.

"The better man won on the night. He caught me with that lovely body shot and I didn't really totally recover from it. But I thought it was a good scrap and I will learn a lot from it. I'll go away and think what I need to improve. For now it's back to fixing cars," said the mechanic.

On the same bill, Ballymena light-middle Steven Donnelly stopped Pavel Albrecht of the Czech Republic in the third round.

Belfast Telegraph