Boxing

Paddy Gallagher determined to take his chance to shine in York Hall WBO European title clash

Belfast's Paddy Gallagher defeats Fernando Valencia at The Titanic exhibition centre. Picture Mark Marlow.
Andy Watters

World Boxing Organisation European Welterweight Title: Paddy Gallagher (15-4) v Freddie Kiwitt (14-2)

PADDY Gallagher had threatened to hang up his gloves unless he was given a world title path to follow and some decent exposure. Now he's got both, he knows he has to deliver.

Welterweight Gallagher takes on Liberia-born, London-based German Freddie Kiwitt as the headline act at London's York Hall tonight and says he is in the shape of his life and determined to take his chance to impress in Bethnall Green tonight.

“We've covered all the areas, of course I'm going to say that, but it's legit,” ‘Pat-man' told The Irish News.

“He's four inches taller than me. Stephen Donnelly would be about the same size, probably a bit bigger, and I've been sparring him because he's like a carbon copy of Kiwitt, only he's better.

“It's was a perfect spar, sent from the Gods, he's about the same size, he's back and forward, he moves well like Kiwitt but he's a better boxer. The better I do against him the better I'll do against Kiwitt.

“I don't care about the size difference or what he's going to bring, I'll bring my A-game and I know my best will be better than his best.”

He and Kiwitt have one opponent in common - Erick Ochieng. Gallagher lost to ‘the Eagle' in a Prizefighter tournament at the start of his career while Kiwitt stopped Ochieng 18 months ago. Understandably, Gallagher doesn't read much, if anything, into those results.

“I only had four fights going into that Prizefighter and I did it to get some experience,” he said.

“I fought like an absolute onion and he just about got past me. Kiwitt stopped him late on so, on paper, it looks like he is the better man because he beat someone who beat me but in real terms that's not the way it is. I couldn't care less about that.”

He added: “I'm very confident and that's because of my training, my sparring and how I'm feeling, how I'm making the weight.

“I've put everything in, I've been very dedicated. People have been saying: ‘We'll do four rounds', and I've been saying: ‘No, we'll do six'. I've stepped up my conditioning and I've got that hunger that I need to fight for a WBO European title.

“I've been giving off and crying about this (getting a title shot) for the last while and now I've got it so I have to perform. I've worked for this, I've earned it and I'll earn the win as well.”

Kiwitt has eight stoppage wins in his 16 fights so he can certainly bang a bit and he'll have to do so to keep Gallagher at bay. Early in his career, the Belfast would start at 100 miles-an-hour but was inclined to run out of gas. He says he has covered everything in training and is going in expecting a real test tonight.

“The fight is set up for me to win,” he said.

“I'm the MTK fighter and I'm headlining the show so it's set up for me to win but that doesn't necessarily mean I can go over there and dance about and fart around. It's a hard fight, I'd imagine he's confident he's going to win.

“He'll have trained for it, he's going to be the underdog so I'm going to have to fight for it and I know that. I'm definitely not underestimating him, if anything I'm over-estimating him because I'm expecting a hard fight.

“It could be a one-horse race, I won't know until I get in there but I've prepared myself 100 per cent and we've all been on the ball, everything has been covered and he's not winning this.”

Winning tonight will get Gallagher a top 15 rating with the WBO and the Commonwealth Games gold medallist feels he could be a couple of fights away from taking on WBA champion Keith Thurman.

“I'll maybe fight a world title eliminator next or maybe defend this one,” he said.

“I could be two or three fights away from fighting for a world title.

“Out of all the world champions, the one I'd love to fight is Thurman and I've been saying that for about two years. I would love to get the opportunity to fight him, maybe that could come about?

“If it does I'd be all over it, no problem.”

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