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Monday 22 January 2018

Boxing: Hammond to fall before 'The Pride'

Bernard O'Neill

ANTHONY FITZGERALD will begin targeting Andy Lee or John Duddy if he emerges victorious from tonight's clash with Kevin Hammond at the National Basketball Arena in Dublin.

Fitzgerald, the current Irish super-middleweight champion, tops the bill against the English puncher for the vacant WBF inter-continental middleweight crown on the DolPhil promotion.

Gavin Prunty, brothers JJ and Paddy McDonagh, Christiana McMahon, Paddy Ward, Rob Long and Noel O'Brien are also on the bill, along with Freddie Roach-trained Dean Byrne.

But European super-bantamweight champion Willie "Big Bang" Casey has been withdrawn after picking up a viral infection during the week.

Fitzgerald, nicknamed 'The Pride,' reckons that Hammond will be a tough nut, but the Dubliner is confident that there will be only one outcome. "This fight means a lot to me -- it's in Dublin, it's another belt and another chance to move up the ratings. The fighter I am boxing is a good fighter. He's meant to be the toughest opponent I have faced, but I am confident of winning," he said.

"Of course I want Lee and Duddy. I want to be testing myself against the best Irishmen in my division, but that's for another day. I'm feeling in top form though -- and that belt will not be leaving Dublin."

Lee's latest fight, scheduled to take place in Germany this Sunday against Poland's Daniel Urbansk, has been cancelled.

The middleweight bout was part of the undercard for Wladimir Klitchco's world heavyweight title defence against Britain's Dereck Chisora, but a back injury has forced the Ukrainian to withdraw and as a result, the entire card will not now go ahead.

Meanwhile, senior champion John Joe Nevin will meet Turkish bantamweight Selcuk Eker when Paris United take on Istanbul away in the European group in the World Series of Boxing tonight.

Nevin and Eker open tonight's five-bout match in which the French side can go three points clear at the top of the table with a victory. Moscow, nicknamed "Kremlin Bears", and Milan meet in the other European WSB group match tomorrow.

Also tonight, 26 semi-finals will be decided at the National Intermediate Championships at the National Stadium. Twelve of those last four duels will feature boxers from the Crumlin BC in Dublin, Ryston BC in Kildare and Immaculata BC in Belfast.

Ryston's Stephen Treacy, Chris Phelan, Michael Myres and Chris Mullaly and Immaculata prospects Gavin McComb, John Meli, Paul Hyland and Alfredo Meli will all be in action.The championships conclude tomorrow with finals in all weight categories.

Meanwhile, Chris Phelan was beaten on a double countback by Kez Ashfaq as Ireland came from behind to draw 5-5 with England in a St Anne's BC-hosted show in Mayo on Wedesnday.

World Youth champion Ray Moylette, Patrick Coyle, Danny Coughlan, Jimmy Sweeney and Rory O'Donoghue recorded wins as Ireland came back from being 4-1 down to earn a tie in the 10-bout international.

Irish Independent

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