Boxing

Paddy Gallagher ready to rumble in Celtic title shot

Paddy Gallagher deserves his Celtic welterweight title shot against Tony Dixon
Andy Watters

PADDY GALLAGHER admits he came close to hanging up his gloves before he was offered a Celtic welterweight title shot against Tony Dixon.

‘Padman’ hasn’t fought since November last year and the Belfast fighter explained how he did some soul searching through January and February, before deciding to return to John Breen’s gym in preparation for Saturday night’s bill at the Cardiff Ice Arena.

Lee Haskins’ IBF World bantamweight title rumble against Ivan Morales headlines the show, with Gallagher (9-2) and unbeaten Tyrone middleweight Conrad Cummings featuring on the undercard.

Merthyr Tydfil native Dixon is 7-0 and, like Gallagher, has been a pro for four years: “Dixon has a good record, he has a couple of good wins and nearly everybody he fought had a winning record,” said Gallagher.

“That’s a good thing for him, but I’ve trained very hard for it and everything has gone well - good sparring, good training… I’m sharp and ready for the 10 rounds.”

Gallagher has never done 10 rounds before and neither has his opponent. Both have gone six rounds in the past - Gallagher once, Dixon twice: “John Breen says ‘you don’t have to run a marathon to train for one’, but we have been doing eight rounds and, with the heat and the intensity of doing it five days in-a-row, it’s just like training for a 12-round fight,” said Gallagher.

“I’m doing them and I’m cruising through them. I’m tired at the end, but that’s expected because I’m putting everything in.”

With the lifestyle, diet and training, putting everything in is part and parcel of a fighter’s existence and Gallagher ended 2015 concerned he wasn’t getting enough back out.

“Boxing is a hard game,” said the personal trainer at the City Centre Gym.

“I wasn’t really sickened, but I decided I would take a while and decide whether I would box again because, for what you put into it, what you get back would put you off it.

“Financially and in many other ways, there’s a very small percentage of boxers who would get what they deserve out of it. I’ve been four years as a pro and I’m only getting a title shot now. Okay, I got Prizefighter, but I didn’t get the chances I deserve.

“But then this came along and I was straight into it. John says ‘look there’s a fight’ and I said ‘I’ll take it, go ahead’. I took it right away and I’ve had eight weeks to get on the ball and I’m ready to rock. Hopefully, I’ll win this and it’ll lead me to an eliminator for a British or a Commonwealth title, maybe even an Irish title and I’ll take it from there.”

Cyclone Promotions fighter Conrad Cummings also features in Cardiff on Saturday night. ‘Dynamite’ (8-0-1) takes on Frankie Borg (9-5), who has lost four of his last five but has been in with some decent company in the past, including Chris Eubank jnr.

Gallagher is becoming a regular on Cyclone Promotions’ shows and says he would like to hook up with Barry McGuigan’s London-based fighting stable: “I’ve been on three out of the four they’ve run in the last year and-a-half so, if I get a title out of this, maybe they’d be happy to work with me. I’d be happy to work with them,” he said.

 

FORMER world champion Paulie Malignaggi believes Amir Khan should be given the same respect in Britain as Ricky Hatton, insisting Khan is the superior fighter of the two.

Khan had impressed in the opening five rounds of last Saturday's fight in Las Vegas with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez until suffering the heavy sixth-round knockout that ended his challenge for the WBC middleweight title.

The defeat - the fourth of his professional career - has done little to harm his reputation given he had made such a significant jump in weight, but there is little question a victory would have secured his status as one of Britain's greatest fighters.

Unlike Khan, Hatton is widely considered one of Britain's best ever after a successful career in which he lost only to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao before his comeback against Vyacheslav Senchenko.

Malignaggi lost to both Hatton and Khan, however, and is convinced the latter should be held in similar esteem, saying: “I don't think it's fair [Hatton is more highly-rated in Britain) but perception is reality, unfortunately. I fought them both, I thought Amir was a lot better.

“On a skill basis, what I saw from both guys, Amir was a lot more difficult to deal with. You've also got to understand Amir came to America a lot sooner than Ricky did, so Amir racked up a couple of losses. Amir also fought a lot more fighters than Ricky was able to because Amir came to America a lot sooner.

“Once you come to America, you're fighting top fighters. They're not going to let you get away with the guys you're fighting in England, you're going to have to fight constant monsters.

“Ricky came here a little later, so he was able to build his record up a little more, he was also able to be loved a little bit more. Ricky deserves a lot of the hoopla he got, but when comparing them, you've got to compare them knowing those differences. There'll never be a right or wrong answer because they're never going to fight but, for me, Amir was the best."

Since last Saturday's defeat, Khan has spoken of his desire to pursue a rematch with WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia, who he lost to at light-welterweight in 2012 and whose title he remains the mandatory challenger for.

When they fought the first time, the American stopped Khan in the fourth round, but Malignaggi believes the 29-year-old would be the favourite to avenge his defeat and has even praised him for possessing the world's finest jab.

 

JASON QUIGLEY vowed to fill Las Vegas with Irish fans after he out-pointed James De La Rosa at the T-Mobile Arena in Sin City last Saturday night.

Fighting on the undercard of Amir Khan’s unsuccessful challenge for Saul Alvarez’s WBC middleweight title, the Donegal man (now 11-0) went the distance for only the second time in his career against the game De La Rosa.

“This is only the start,” said Golden Boy middleweight Quigley after his win.

“I’m going to fill places like this with Irish people. I’m going to light this place up green, white and orange because that is what I want to do. I want to give back to the people of Ireland, the fans that have followed me and given me support. I want to give them the chance to come to Vegas and experience the whole thing.”

 

UNBEATEN lightweight Ciaran McVarnock takes on Leonids Gutkovics at the Macron Stadium in Bolton on Friday night.

The Belfast fighter (6-0-1) meets Latvian Gutkovics (1-2) in his first outing since he out-pointed journeyman Joe Beedon at the National Stadium in Dublin last November.

Jack Catterall (14-0) headlines against Joe Hughes (14-1) with the WBO Inter-Continental super-lightweight title on the line.

 

ANTHONY CROLLA made a successful first defence of his WBA lightweight title by knocking out Ismael Barroso in Manchester last Saturday.

Crolla's pre-match assertion he would be the underdog for this fight did not look far-fetched in the early stages. But the Manchester-born fighter hit back strongly and the end came when his opponent was counted out midway through the seventh round.

The big-punching Venezuelan was quickly into his stride and Crolla was showing signs of wear and tear at the end of the fourth round. However, the home crowd were encouraged by a stronger show from their favourite in the fifth and Barroso was soon on the back foot.

A punishing body shot saw Barroso crumple to his knees and, when he failed to beat the count, Crolla was left to celebrate.

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