Boxing

Cathy McAleer on the way to world title within two years says new manager Kellie Maloney

Cathy McAleer (right) with new boxing manager Kellie Maloney at yesterday's press conference in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Andy Watters

CATHY McAleer will become Ireland’s second female world champion within two years, her new promoter Kellie Maloney has promised.

Kellie, formerly Frank Maloney, has been tempted out of retirement to manage the career of the ambitious 41-year-old former karate and kick-boxing world champion who intends to follow in the footsteps of lightweight/super-lightweight ruler Katie Taylor.

Currently 3-0, super-bantamweight McAleer continued undaunted despite seeing Commonwealth title fights fall through twice last year and Maloney – who guided Lennox Lewis to heavyweight dominance in the late 1990s/early 2000s – announced yesterday that the former Down ladies’ Gaelic footballer will return to the ring in Birmingham on February 22.

McAleer explained how she’d had “a lightbulb moment” after seeing Maloney on TV cookery programme Celebrity Masterchef and got in touch with her via Twitter. The Londoner was cautious at first but since she agreed to become her manager their relationship has flourished.

“I spoke with my family and I made the decision to come back because I saw Cathy’s determination,” said Maloney.

“I’m a great believer in achieving things – against all odds I became Britain’s number one boxing promoter and I took Lennox Lewis to the world title.

“To come back now in my second life as Kellie and to achieve something like this will be amazing – I’ll be the only person who’s managed a world champion in a male gender and a female gender.

“That’s my challenge and I’m really proud to be part of this team and to work with Cathy and John. I give my word that I will work 24 hours a day to deliver that world title for Cathy.”

McAleer will be trained by Belfast boxing doyen John Breen, whose roots go all the way back to the famous Barney Eastwood gym in the city which produced world champions Barry McGuigan and Dave ‘Boy’ McAuley in the 1980s.

“To have a plan is brilliant,” said McAleer.

“I know where I’m going now and it’s exciting. It’s a good journey and me and Kellie as a team couldn’t be a better fit for both of us. I could fight for a title very soon but I’m in no rush, I love the sport and I’m here for the long run.”

Meanwhile Maloney, who also  previously guided west Belfast fighter Damaen Kelly to the British title, said she felt: “like Alex Ferguson being talked out of retirement”.

“I’ve done a three-fight deal with [Birmingham promoter] Tommy Owen and one with another promoter,” she said.

“I said to Cathy: ‘You are going to be Belfast’s female Barry McGuigan’ and that’s exactly what we’ve got. I’ve worked with a number of Irish fighters and I like the fanbase here and I will bring Cathy back here for a title fight.

“I will look at the Commonwealth title first, then the European title and a couple of defences there and then a world title. That’s my plan and I guarantee she’ll be world champion within two years.

“I want Belfast to be the first place to stage an all-female boxing show. It has never been done in the UK or Ireland or anywhere in the world.

“People know my record in female boxing. As Frank, I was never that keen on it because it wasn’t commercially viable but things have begun to change, the market has begun to change and I think female boxing is not promoted right – now I’m a female I’ve got to defend it.

“If you look at UFC, how they promote their female fighters is unbelievable but if you look at British boxing the only one I know is Katie Taylor – who is Irish. She’s a big draw and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

“As well as Cathy winning a world title, she will top the bill of the first all-female boxing show here in Belfast.”

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Boxing