With the pull-outs of Derrieck Cuevas and Radzhab Butaev due to a family bereavement and a shoulder injury respectively, the Belfast welterweight has been flung into the quarter-finals of the inaugural ‘Jose Sulaiman World Invitational Tournament’.
Initially the second reserve, Gallagher will now fight Brad Solomon in the opening round of the WBSS-style tournament on Friday April 27th at the KFC YUM! Centre in Louisville, Kentucky.
With progressive purses and the winner moving in line for a shot at the WBC welterweight title, Gallagher is keen to grab his opportunity and change his career.
The BBBoC Celtic champ has been in preparation for weeks, having been set to initially face Francisco Santana and then Sergey Lubkovich on an undercard bout on the same show in the U.S. Deep South. Gallagher has been getting top sparring in with the likes of Liam Williams in Wales and enters his ten-rounder with Solomon [27(9)-1(0)] full of confidence.
The American was once a touted name having beaten Adrian Granados on the Mayweather-Pacquiao undercard. However, he has not fought since his loss to Konstantin Ponomarev almost two years ago.
2010 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Gallagher fully expects to win in just over two weeks time and outlined how “this is a dream opportunity to fight in this tournament. It was a big risk taking the alternative position but a risk that has paid off — sums up my career!”
“Solomon is my third opponent named in a week! I’ve read a few comments about him and people saying it’s his time but my coach [Ger McManus] has looked over him and says it’s a winnable fight.”
“He’s ahead of me in the rankings and has a brilliant record. It’ll be a big scalp because I expect to win it. I can’t see me losing. I know everyone says that but I’ve been doing some top quality sparring.”
“The fight with Solomon will be a quality fight and one where I will come out on top.
Solomon is the fourth seed in the tournament, and a win over the Louisiana 34-year-old would see Gallagher face the winner of the clash between Chris van Heerden [25(12)-2(1)-1] and Timo Schwarzkopf [18(10)-1(0)] in the semis – with Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz [19(9)-2(1)] the man expected to come through the other side of the draw.
29-year-old Gallagher feels he has the power, chin, and ability to win the competition and even has a very tentative eye on WBC champion Keith Thurman.
The Lenadoon man noted how “there are some huge names in the tournament and Diaz and Van Heerden are definitely two of them. It looks like I’ve got a good draw and I plan on winning the whole thing.
“The ultimate dream is to propel myself up the rankings and fight Keith Thurman for a world title. He’s good but he’s not as good as he thinks he is. He can dig but I can hold a shot and can dig myself.”
“I know calling out Thurman right now is unrealistic but if I win this competition then the sky’s the limit. I’m absolutely buzzing to start gaining momentum in the tournament.”