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Barrett bidding to bridge 66-year gap

COLEMAN Barrett bids to become the third Galwayman to capture the Irish heavyweight title when he takes on Colin Kenna, the Southampton-based Dubliner, in tonight's National Stadium show.

It's 120 years since Peter Maher, from Kilbannon, became the first champion at the weight, and 66 years since Spiddal's Martin Thornton emulated Maher.

"To win the Irish heavyweight title would be a dream come true. I'm still only 27 and I know I can go places," said Barrett, a first cousin of Francie Barrett, who represented Ireland in the 1996 Olympics.

'Coley' won a bronze medal at the world junior championships in 2000, but has only had 11 bouts as a professional. That is down to the four-year break he took from the sport.

"I had a lot of family problems during that time," he explained. "My sister passed away from cancer and my mind just wasn't on the job. Boxing isn't something you can do half-heartedly."

Barrett returned to the ring last year and reached the final of the Prizefighter tournament, when Audley Harrison stopped him in two rounds. That is his only loss to date.

Coley is a strong favourite to beat Kenna (16-9-2), who lost seven of his last eight contests and hasn't fought since being stopped in six rounds by Sam Sexton in November 2008.

The winner of tonight's bout will be mandated to make his first title defence against Belfastman Martin Rogan.