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Hyland out to win for granda Tommy

 

By David Kelly

Boxing is in Paul Hyland's blood and to walk away with the British lightweight title would be a treasured moment in his career.

Belfast man Hyland may be the underdog as he prepares to challenge British champion Lewis Ritson in Newcastle tomorrow night but he is adamant that he will meet fire with fire and burn the local man's big homecoming party.

Should he triumph it will be a special family moment with dad and coach Paul in his corner and the memory of his number one fan, grandfather Tommy Maxwell, always driving him on.

"I played a lot of football when I was younger and only started boxing at 13. I had to make a choice and I went with boxing and my granda Tommy who boxed himself was a big supporter of mine," said Hyland.

"My granda boxed alongside the great John Caldwell in the St John Bosco club and was an Irish champion so he loved me boxing and it would be great to win it for him - it was the fourth anniversary of his passing just last week.

"He was a real role model for me, I looked up to him a lot and he went to all the shows to see me as an amateur. He was a big influence."

Hyland, who started boxing in the Gleann club, was thrown in at the deep end when in his first contest he faced Tyrone McKenna, also now an unbeaten professional who boxes on June 30 at the SSE Arena on the undercard of Michael Conlan's homecoming.

"It was a big ask going in against Tyrone who at that stage was more experienced but I only lost on a split decision. I always thought the professional game would suit me better and I have gone along quite well with the help of my manager Mark Dunlop."

Hyland's career edged along until the last 12 months when he made a significant step forward, which included a close points victory over Stephen Ormond, despite a broken jaw.

Newcastle man Ritson's career has truly taken off in the same period, enjoying three straight stoppage victories - including a second round knockout of Scotty Cardle in March - with promoter Eddie Hearn believing he can kick on to fight for European and World titles.

Hyland added: "Ritson is being built up as a big star of the future and it's up to me to spoil the party.

"I've seen his last few fights and he has done well but I don't think he has been pushed back in the way that I will stand and drive him back. I'm ready for 12 very hard rounds and we'll see how he reacts."

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