Boxing

Caomhin Agyarko: my target is to become Ireland's first black world champion

Caoimhin Agyarko has the third fight of his professional career at Wembley Arena on April 27
Andy Watters

START small, aim big and Belfast’s Caomhin Agyarko has set himself a target of becoming Ireland’s first black world champion.

The talented 22 year-old middleweight from Turf Lodge has the third professional fight of his career at Wembley Arena on April 27 and, although it’s early days for him, the former Ulster Elite champion intends to climb to the very top of the sport.

“There’s never been an Irish black world champion and to be the first person to do it would be an unbelievable achievement and I’d be making history,” he said.

“Regardless of what race you are, or what colour you are, to be an Irish world champion would be something special in itself but, yeah, it would add a bit of spice to be the first black man to do it.”

Agyarko, London-born, Belfast bred, has been based at Kentish Town’s iBox Gym since last year and made his pro debut in October with a points win over Ladislav Nemeth. His third outing is against another durable Czech journeyman in Martin Kabrhel.

“Everything is going well, the training camp went very well so I can’t wait to get in there now and put on a big performance,” he said.

“I’ve been working hard, I’m not looking to be changing my style or anything, it’s just about taking my time, slowing down the pace and sitting down on my shots a bit more. I’m not going to change my style overnight but I am learning new things in the gym and trying to figure out what works for me and what I can bring into the sparring.

“I still have the same style but I’m practising new things and, over time, my style will change. I’m settling into the pro ranks very well and I’ve always had that kind of pro style even in the amateurs so there’s not much I need to change.”

With busy gyms dotted all over London, Agyarko has no problem sourcing the competitive sparring he needs to add extra dimensions to his game.

“That’s why I took myself over here, it’s completely different from home,” he said.

“I was home two weeks ago and I was trying to get some sparring but I couldn’t really get any. It’s completely different over here because you are never stuck for sparring. The coaching is unbelievable and the atmosphere in the different gyms is unbelievable – it’s a great experience.

“The London life is good, obviously it’s hard being away from home but in terms of boxing everything is going well.”

With world title challenger Bradley Skeete also in the gym, Agyarko is in good company and enjoys working with coach Alan Smith.

“We have a good relationship, we understand each other and he understands my style of boxing,” said the former Holy Trinity ABC star who hasn’t seen much of his opponent Kabrhel.

“He’s tough enough but I don’t think he’ll be as tough as my first two opponents – they were very tough,” he said.

“Then again every journeyman is tough, I’ve got a job to do and I’ll be looking to put on a better performance than my last fight.

“My main goal is to be progressing with every fight and as long as my team is happy with my performances then I’ll be ready to fight anybody and just keep moving up the rankings.”

CATHY McAleer will take on Cristina Busuioc of Bulgaria when she returns to action at the Europa Hotel for the ‘Summer Brawl’ from MHD Promotions, in association with A McLean bookmakers, on Saturday 18th May.

Already a double world champion in kickboxing and karate, the Belfast bantamweight is chasing a treble of world titles as she looks ahead to only her third contest.

“Numbers are small in Cathy’s division and with the right fights at the right time everything will be possible as she chases her dream,” said promoter Mark Dunlop.

“She has picked up valuable experience in her first two contests and she’s well aware that she will need it in the tasks that are ahead of her.”

The next challenge will see her take on the strong Cristina Busuioc of Bulgaria who recently took Matchroom prospect Shannon Courtenay the distance in a very competitive contest live on Sky Sports a few weeks ago.

“Cathy is heading for a collision with the Matchroom starlet herself and will be looking to do a better job which will hopefully raise a few eyebrows,” Dunlop added.

The stacked card features former world title challenger James Tennyson who is now campaigning at lightweight, Paul Hyland Jnr, Tommy McCarthy, Coalisland’s Irish champion Feargal McCrory and the talented Victor Rabei, from Dublin.

Tickets are very well priced at: VIP Ringside including four-course meal (£80), ringside (£50), reserved (£45), unreserved (£40). Tel. 07712473905, email mark@mhdpromotions.com

ANTHONY Crolla emerged from a conclusive fourth-round stoppage by Vasyl Lomachenko with his health and pride intact, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

Crolla's challenge for the WBA and WBO lightweight titles held by Lomachenko ended in brutally one-sided fashion in the early hours of Saturday morning at Los Angeles' Staples Center.

The former world champion from Manchester survived a standing eight-count in the third but the fight was over a round later.

"Anthony's fine. Obviously it was a heavy knockout - a temple shot he didn't see," Hearn said.

"After he was counted out he got up and was fine. But he's devastated. He said: 'I'm just so gutted for the team because of the work they did'. I'm like: 'Don't worry about the team, you just fought pound for pound number one'.

"Everybody said to him - (promoter) Bob Arum, every fighter at ringside - 'There's no disgrace in that, mate'.

"You're mandatory challenger, what else are you going to do? You get a shot at Lomachenko, you've got to take it. But he was just too good.

"The third round was a weird one because he was sitting on the ropes. I thought it was a poor stoppage because although he wasn't particularly in the fight, it was a poor stoppage.

"Unfortunately in the fourth round Crolla knew he had to do something and go for it. When you do that against Lomachenko, you leave yourself wide open with gaps. Lomachenko was too good for Anthony.

"This shot came against the head, you can't not take this opportunity. Losing to Lomachenko is never a disgrace.

"He can have zero regrets because he prepared the best he could, it's just about levels. Who is going to beat Lomachenko?"

Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic champion, justified his overwhelming favourite status with a clinical 13th win of his professional career.

"I want Mikey Garcia. I want to unify titles. That's my goal. I want historic fights," Lomachenko said.

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