Stephen Haughian has his sights on a rematch with Celtic champion Kevin McIntyre — once he deals with Ballyclare’s Willie Thompson.
Lurgan welterweight Haughian returns to the ring on June 25 at Craigavon Leisure Centre to face Thompson in a defence of his Irish title.
Haughian’s career has been treading water for the past year, since losing last June to McIntyre in the King’s Hall. The defeat hit him hard but manager John Breen believes he can seal a rematch in September.
Breen said: “After Stephen deals with Thompson the fight we want is McIntyre and I’ve been told that McIntyre would be keen as well.
“When Stephen lost to him last year it was probably the worst performance of his career and he wants to put the record straight.
“He’s had two good wins since then and I’m looking for him to do a good job against Thompson. Then we can look at nailing down the rematch with McIntyre.
“Stephen was too negative for long periods against McIntyre. He won the last two rounds when he went for it, so he has learned from that. A win against McIntyre for the Celtic title and then he would be right back in the British title mix.”
Firstly, Haughian has to turn back the challenge of Thompson, who has come in as a replacement for Jeff Thomas.
Thompson, who will have Eamonn Magee in his corner, was based for the best part of his pro career at Breen’s Gym alongside Haughian, but friendship will be put to one side when they clash on Saturday week.
Breen added: “It’s business, it’s a fight and that’s the way you have to look at it. Eamonn will be in one corner and me in the other, which will be strange, but we’ll just get on with it.
“Stephen will not be thinking about friendship when they box, he knows he has to produce a good performance.
“I would expect Stephen to go out and stop Willie.”
The supporting bill will see Marc McCullough clash at featherweight with fellow Belfast debutant Eddie Nesbitt.
McCullough is also coached by Breen and already the former world junior karate champion has been making an impact in training.
Breen added: “I’ve been very pleased with how Marc has taken to the pro game.
“He obviously has a lot to learn but he has shown the right attitude and is working very hard and already he has shown that he can punch a bit.
“It’s not often you have two debutants facing each other. It should be a good fight but I’m confident Marc will win it.”