Boxing

Gambles are paying off as Paddy Gallagher gets a chance to shine while Ryan Burnett is hungrier than ever after world title glory

Paddy Gallagher takes on Switzerland-based Brazilian Ricardo Silva for the vacant IBO Continental welterweight title on Saturday night
Andy Watters

PADDY Gallagher has never been afraid to take the gambles he knew he needed to breathe life into a career that came in fits and starts before Cyclone Promotions and MTK (Matt Macklin's Mack the Knife) began showing an interest in him.

The Belfast banger lost twice in a Prizefighter shootout back in 2014 and spent his time on the fringes of the local pro scene before Barry McGuigan spotted his potential and got him a Celtic Nations title shot on a show in Cardiff a year ago.

Gallagher answered the call and knocked out Tony Dixon and even a majority points loss to Tamuka Mucha since then hasn't slowed his momentum. On Saturday he gets his biggest break yet as the chief support to Carl Frampton when he takes on Switzerland-based Brazilian Ricardo Silva for the vacant IBO Continental welterweight title.

“It'll be one of the biggest shows they've ever had here and the demand for tickets has been crazy,” Gallagher explained while out for a walk yesterday.

“It's good to be on it, obviously just to be part of it is great but to be one of the three main fights and to be live on Channel 5 is even better.”

A little under five years into his professional career, the former Commonwealth Games gold medallist has built up an 11-3 record with seven stoppage wins.

“I think I've earned this shot,” he said.

“People look at your record too much and say: ‘oh, he's been beaten, he's no good'. But people are catching on that if a guy is unbeaten it's because he hasn't fought anyone who's had a chance of beating him.

“People are going about with padded records thinking they're big dogs because they're unbeaten but I've taken a couple of risks in my career – some of them have paid off and some of them haven't – and this is another one.

“I've got a better management team behind me now so I was going to take things more carefully, but this was too big of an opportunity to let slide for a four or six-rounder. I wanted to take the opportunity to have a proper fight and get on to the TV and this is a good title I'm fighting for.”

At 27, Silva is a year younger than Gallagher and comes to Belfast with a 14-1 record – the single loss was against French southpaw Mohamed Kani in a WBC Mediterranean welterweight title scrap late last year.

“If I win this I definitely think I'll be there or thereabouts,” said Gallagher.

“It would be good to win in style, but you're always guaranteed some sort of entertainment whether it's a good draw or a knockout or a beat-down or whatever. I always produce the goods.”

Conrad Cummings' WBO European middleweight title clash with Robert Swierzbinski (18-6-2) is scheduled to be the final fight on the Spike TV leg of coverage from the Odyssey before Gallagher and Silva set the scene for the return of ‘the Jackal' on Channel 5.

“It's a chance to shine,” said ‘Pat Man'.

“I've been up and down over the last few years. There's been a few crap things and a few good things but I finally feel happy and good in a place where I want to be.

“I've got people training me, people doing my nutrition and strength and conditioning, telling me what I need to do and when I need to do it. I've got the best management about with MTK so I'm very happy where I am and finally I'm in a good place.

“Mentally I'm in a good place as well because boxing can be a bit crap. Before you would here ‘you may be fighting, you may not be fighting' and people would say: ‘we'll try and get you this, but we'll see what happens…'

“This year I was on the Ryan Burnett show in June and then MTK got me this. I fought on Saturday (he stopped Craig Kelly on the Burnett undercard) and took Sunday and Monday off and was back in the gym on Tuesday to keep going. The next day, Wednesday, Frampton's fight was announced and on the Thursday I was told I had a 10-rounder.

“Even after this they've told me I'll have two more fights before the end of the year – I've never had anything like this. I've never had fights back-to-back this close or even known when the next fight was going to be.”

With his management getting him the fights he wants and needs, Gallagher can train with focus at the Gleann ABC gym with Gerard McManus.

“Maybe in time, as the fights get bigger, it would be good to get over to Marbella or Manchester or Scotland for a training camp. In time I will do that definitely,” he explained.

“I've worked hard for this fight and I'm feeling good. Hopefully after this I'll kick on, my stock will rise a bit because I'll have two belts and a good ranking and a known name to attract bigger fights.”

RYAN Burnett says winning the world title has left him even hungrier for success.

Far from being satisfied with fulfilling his childhood dream, the north Belfast bantamweight intends to build on the IBF title he took from Lee Haskins on an unforgettable night at the Odyssey Arena in June.

Burnett expected winning the world title to be “like a big weight off me” but says he isn't satisfied and could now look towards unifying the bantamweight division.

“It did take a while for winning the title to sink, but it wasn't how I expected,” he said.

“I was happy but I'm far, far from satisfied.

“I want more, I thought I would have been satisfied, I thought I would have sat down and it would have been a big weight off me but it wasn't like that at all.

“I was happy but I'm not satisfied, I want more.

“I feel like I'm more driven now than I was when I won the world title and I'm not just saying that.

“I genuinely feel as if I'm more motivated for success than I was before I won the world title.

“It's one thing winning a world title, it's another thing kicking on from it and that's what I want to do.”

Burnett (17-0) intends to be back in action before the end of the year and possibly in Belfast once again. Now ranked sixth in the world by Ring Magazine, he could look to challenge the likes of WBC champ Shinsuke Yamanaka, Zolani Tete (WBO) or England's Jamie McDonnell.

“There's nothing planned at the moment,” he said.

“The team is working on things and trying to put something together but I think we should know within the month.

“I'm just waiting on Adam (Booth) and Eddie (Hearn) getting back to me to let me know what's going on. I had a good bit of time off to relax, but I'm back in the gym now and starting to get back into it properly.”

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