Boxing

Seconds Out: Paul Hyland set sights on British title after rumble with Felix Lora

Paul Hyland takes on former WBO European super lightweight champion Felix Lora at the Europa Hotel on Saturday night

UNBEATEN lightweight Paul Hyland headlines the show at the Europa Hotel on Saturday night, when he takes on former WBO European super lightweight champion Felix Lora.

The Dominican Republic-born fighter bounced back from a losing streak to beat former Tommy Coyle and Tom Stalker opponent Antonio Joao Bento, so Hyland expects to work hard for his win. He says he’d “love to get a shot at the British title next year”, but first he has to do the business against well-travelled Lora, who always comes to fight and has been stopped just once in his 44-fight career.

“He’s tough, he’s going to be a good test for me,” said Hyland.

“He’ll let me see where I am. He’s fought some big names - he’s fought Kevin Mitchell [and former IBF world welterweight champ Devon Alexander] and he’s a former European champion, so he’ll give me a good test and show me how I’ve progressed.

“He’s definitely my hardest test so far. Most of the boys I’ve fought have had good records and they’ve been tough enough, but this guy is the biggest name - he’s been in with the best people, so he’ll have the best experience.

“He hasn’t been stopped much, so he’ll be tough and I’m not expecting to take him out - I’ve been working on boxing and stepping it up whenever it suits me instead of me getting drawn into his plan and wasting my energy. I need to box more to win the fight when it gets tougher, I need to do the job to win the fight, not please the crowd to win the fight.”

Hyland’s manager Mark Dunlop had tried to entice one-time WBA Continental super-lightweight challenger Michael Devine into facing Hyland, but Luton-born Devine turned down his offer: “He was saying he was all up for it,” said Hyland.

“He said he would take the fight and all that, but he really didn’t want it, so Mark gave me three names and he explained to me that Lora had the most ranking points and he’d give me the hardest fight, so I said: ‘yeah, we’ll go with him’.

“I’ll have too much for him, definitely. I’ve been training hard in the gym, I’ve done a lot of rounds of sparring - I’ve been sparring a lot with Ronnie Clark and a few other ones in the gym. I’m looking forward to seeing what Lora brings and how I cope with it.”

Hyland’s sparring partner Clark will make his Belfast debut as chief support on Saturday night, when he tangles with Reynaldo Cajina and the bill also includes emerging talents like Tyrone McCullagh, Jay Byrne, Fergal McCrory and Carl McDonald, who makes his pro debut against Kamil Jaworek.

Former Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Joe Fitzpatrick could also feature: “It’s a good bill,” said Hyland.

“I’ve sold a load of tickets and Ronnie has a good crowd coming over to watch it. It’s been tough for him - he’s done a six-week camp away from home, so it’ll be good to see him doing well.”

Meanwhile, in the wake of the recent migration of Irish boxers, including Marc McCullough, Stephen Ward and Paddy Barnes, to the Marbella-based MGM stable, Hyland says he is content with being based in Belfast.

“I’m happy enough at the minute,” said Hyland.

“I’m getting well looked after and Mark [Dunlop] is good to be with - he keeps an eye out for his boxers. In the future, if a big, big opportunity came up I’d have to see but, at the minute, I’m happy enough here. I’m getting home fights and building up a good record and I get brilliant support.”

 

SATURDAY'S CARD
Lightweight:
Paul Hyland Jnr (12-0) v Felix Lora (19-20-5); Super-featherweight: Ronnie Clark (15-3-2) v Reynaldo Cajina (14-36-5); Super-bantamweight: Tyrone McCullagh (4-0) v Edwin Tellez (11-25-5); Cruiserweight: Ian Tims (11-3) v TBC; Super-welterweight: Jay Byrne (1-0) v Liam Griffiths (4-66-1); Lightweight: Feargal McCrory (2-0) v Ivailo Boyanov (2-5-1); Super-bantamweight: Carl McDonald (debut) v Kamil Jaworek (3-2); Possible Lightweight: Joe Fitzpatrick (5-0) v TBC

 

NATHAN CLEVERLY is ready to face Juergen Braehmer in a rematch after winning the WBA regular light-heavyweight title when the German withdrew through injury.

Braehmer pulled out before the start of the seventh round of their fight in Neubrandenburg last Saturday with a suspected dislocated elbow. It came five years after they were first scheduled to meet and, though defending champion Braehmer appeared to be winning at the point of his withdrawal, Cleverly is ready to honour the rematch clause in their contract.

“If he wants the rematch as per the contract, he can have it,” said Cleverly, in a statement from promoters Matchroom.

“I don’t know that he'll want it, he's 38 [actually 37] now and it would only go the same way, a Nathan Cleverly stoppage, but this time in Wales. I wanted to break him up in the first half of the fight and that's what was happening. I felt him wince and wheeze in the sixth round when I was hitting him to the body and there was little coming back - the fight was only going one way.

“When I boxed [Andrzej] Fonfara, I had a busted nose, my ear was gone and I carried on - the full 12. Braehmer pulled out in the seventh because I broke him, injury or no injury. It's a 12-round fight - you fight the whole fight. This was my destiny - he didn’t want to fight me five-years-ago and now we’ve finally got it on and I felt I would have too much for him.”

Victory has revived the 29-year-old's career after three losses from his past six fights. It was widely thought he may never fight again if he suffered another defeat, particularly after an unsuccessful move to cruiserweight.

“I'm so grateful to be world champion again,” Cleverly said.

“I worked so hard after losing my belt in my sixth fight and, now, I'm a two-time champion. I was so young first time around and maybe it was too early for me, at 24. I had six defences and lost it in devastating fashion against a pound-for-pound elite guy in Sergey Kovalev and, since then, this has been my goal and I've made it.

"I'm so proud for my country. We all have highs and lows in boxing and, right now, I'm just on cloud nine.”

 

DALE EVANS has spoken of his heartbreak following the death of opponent Mike Towell.

Towell (25) died in hospital last Friday night following a televised bout with Evans in Glasgow the previous day. Tributes have flooded in following the death of the father from Dundee. Welsh fighter Evans said: “I feel like I am responsible. I can’t stop thinking about Mike and his poor family. All my thoughts are with them.”

Evans added: “It has been awful. All I can think of is his two-year-old kid and his girlfriend and family, who won’t have him around any more.

“I feel like I am responsible because we are the ones punching each other - and this is something I have to live with now.”

Evans said the incident saw him consider retiring from the sport, but that he would now like to win the British title in Towell’s memory. The welterweight, known as ‘Iron Mike Towell’, was stretchered from the ring after a fifth-round loss to Evans in a televised bout at a St Andrew’s Sporting Club event in Glasgow.

He was taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, diagnosed with severe bleeding and swelling to his brain, and died shortly after 11pm on Friday, 12 hours after being taken off life support. The boxer’s family were at his bedside in his final hours and were joined by his manager Tommy Gilmour and St Andrew’s Sporting Club owner Iain Wilson.

It later emerged Towell had cut short a training session after suffering a headache in the weeks before the fatal fight. His partner Chloe Ross said he died “peacefully”. She wrote on Facebook: “My baby has lost his daddy. But he will be so, so proud of his dad in what he achieved.”

Meanwhile, an appeal set up by former world champion boxer Ricky Hatton to raise money for Ross and the couple’s young son Rocco has surpassed its £20,000 target and has now raised more than £29,000. The British Boxing Board of Control released its own statement on Monday, which read: “The British Boxing Board of Control sends their condolences to the family of Mike Towell.

“The thoughts of all those involved in boxing in Great Britain are with them at this difficult time.”

 

Ricky Burns will defend his WBA World Super-Lightweight title in Glasgow at the weekend 

ADRIEN BRONER will be in Glasgow to watch Ricky Burns defend his WBA World Super-Lightweight title as the Scot closes in on his Las Vegas dream.

The 33-year-old faces hard-hitting mandatory challenger Kiryl Relikh at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Friday and has been told he will land a shot at former four-weight world champion Broner if he can come through unscathed.

That is not a formality for Burns, with the three-weight world champion coming up against an undefeated Belarussian opponent who has landed 19 knock-out wins from 21 fights. However, his promoter Eddie Hearn hopes the carrot of a huge Stateside fight with American Broner later this year will be enough motivation to see the Coatbridge fighter successfully through his 12th world title fight and first defence of the crown he won in style back in May after knocking out Michele Di Rocco inside eight rounds.

Burns has made no secret of his desire to sample a big fight night in Sin City and Hearn is hopeful a deal can be struck with Broner: “We were pretty much there in terms of the deal to fight Broner but, because of issues out of the ring, we all decided to fight Relikh and try and clear the mandatory before securing the fight against Broner in December,” said Hearn.

“Adrien contacted me this week and said he is coming to Glasgow on October 7 to watch the fight and, if Ricky defeats Relikh, I expect that fight to get made without any problems.”

Cincinnati scrapper Broner, 27, has not fought since April, when he stopped Londoner Ashley Theophane in the fourth round.

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