Stephen Haughian is looking to gatecrash the domestic title scene and he could move one step closer to the mix if he successfully negotiates a way past Sheffield-based welterweight Junior Witter (left), in a real crossroads affair. The away man arrives with an impressive CV, having once held the prestigious WBC light-welterweight title. Lurgan’s own former Irish title holder is still aiming to make an impact and Haughian assures his fans that no stone will be left unturned in preparation for such a big night.
“Witter’s fought at the higher level and it’s up to him to prove that he is still at that level,” reckoned Stephen. “It’s a massive step-up for me and I am looking forward to the opportunity. He can say all he wants that he believes strongly in himself but I believe in myself. We’ll see on the night who is the hungrier fighter and the pressure’s all on Junior.”
Laid back in his demeanour and laconic in delivery, Junior Witter speaks in sound bites rather than sentences. He lost in the final of the welterweight Prizefighter tournament recently (to Yassine El Maachi, who Haughian will be sparring in his build-up) but Junior dismissed claims that he is nearing the end of a lengthy, distinguished career.
“As long as I don’t end up through the ropes then I’m okay,” he grinned. “This is my first proper fight back at welterweight. Stephen’s a nice kid with a good record but when the bell goes, ‘The Hitter’ will be back. I’m bigger, stronger and possess the skills, speed and knowledge. I believe that when I enter the ring I will come out a winner.
“The whole Prizefighter competition is a completely different entity to boxing. You go in and perform for three rounds and cool your body back down again. It is separate from normal boxing and I can do 12 or 15 rounds if I have too. I’ve still got the tools and Mick will get me title shots as he has done in the past.”
Haughian’s sole trainer throughout his professional career has been Belfast veteran John Breen who believes that this fight is make-or-break for his charge.
“I have always said that Stephen Haughian has the ability to go to the top and it’s up to Stephen to rise to the occasion on fight night – it will be a very exciting fight. Mick Hennessy is a gentleman and hopefully boxing can take off again in Belfast.”
Breen also indicated an interest in training Tyson Fury in the future: “I would love to work with Tyson and help him improve his game. It’s a shame that the Martin Rogan-Tyson Fury fight isn’t happening because it would be a good fight. Maybe it will happen sometime.”