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Macklin to link up with Roach Belshaw bombs out Holyfield v Botha off

EUROPEAN middleweight champion Matthew Macklin has made a bright career move by linking up with Freddie Roach, acknowledged as the world's top boxing coach.

"When you see the improvements that Freddie has made with fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, it shows you how good a trainer he is," said Macklin, Birmingham-born son of Irish migrants.

Matthew will join Roach's Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles during the coming week to prepare for his European title defence against Russian Dmitry Pirog in April.

Dunne named Irish Boxer of the Year

CONGRATULATIONS to Bernard Dunne for picking up the Irish Boxer of the Year prize at the Bogart Menswear National Boxing Awards night in Belfast last weekend.

Dublin super-featherweight Eddie Hyland won the Irish Champion of the Year award, while Belfast featherweight Carl Frampton was named Prospect of the Year.

Lopez steps up to land WBO crown at feather

JUAN Manuel Lopez impressively moved up a division to capture the WBO featherweight title by stopping Steven Luevano in the seventh round in New York last weekend.

The Puerto Rican, now 28-0, with 25 stoppages, could be lined up for a unification fight with Cuba's Yuri Gamboa.

Belshaw bombs out

ANTRIM heavyweight Scott Belshaw, once considered a hot prospect, seems to have nowhere to go after being stopped in the first round by Larry Olubamiwo in Brentwood, Essex, last weekend. It was 24-year-old Belshaw's third successive loss inside the distance.

Holyfield v Botha off

EVANDER Holyfield has pulled out of his scheduled clash with Francois Botha in Kampala, Uganda, on February 20, claiming he had waited three months for his agreed first payment, but it had not come.

Quote of the week

"From what I saw in his last fight, Haye was boring. Calling me boring is like throwing rocks in a glasshouse when he's living in one"

-- American John Ruiz talking about his challenge to WBA heavyweight champion David Haye in Manchester on April 3.