3 March 2010 – By Steve Wellings
Two gym-mates are set to meet in the ring if a proposed welterweight clash comes to fruition.
Lurgans Irish titleholder Stephen Haughian looks set to defend his crown against Ballyclare challenger Willie Thompson in the coming months.
Yes, Im down to contest Stephen Haughians Irish title, around May at the Kings Hall, confirmed Thompson when Irish-boxing.com quizzed him recently.
The trainings going well and Im delighted with my progress, the weight is coming off and Im sitting around 11st 1lb at the moment.
Willie has been engaging in some high-level sparring at the same John Breen gym frequented by Haughian.
I sparred with Neil Sinclair as he prepared for the Prizefighter, added Willie, and hes in always in fantastic shape and it sharpened me up as well. I have to do an eight-rounder before I get my chance and anyone would be ring rusty if they had been out of the ring for so long.
I was supposed to be fighting on the Brian Peters show in Dublin but I suffered a damaged eardrum in sparring so Ill be looking for a run-out at some point, he said.
Haughian, who has been absent from the ring since September, has his name pencilled in to the schedule on March 27 at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, New York.
30-year-old Thompson cannot afford to hang around either and last featured in May 2009, when losing to Michael Jennings on the Martin Rogan-Sam Sexton undercard in Belfasts Odyssey Arena.
The Jennings fight represented a major step-up for Thompson, as the Chorley man was not only a former British title holder but had previously challenged Miguel Cotto in Madison Square Garden for a version of the world title. Jenningss experience told, when after a bright start the home favourite was chopped down in the fourth of a six-rounder. However, Thompson claims that outside circumstances contributed to the defeat.
I had a lot of stuff happening outside the ring when the Jennings fight took place but I think that the experience will stand me in good stead to move forward, he added, after seeing his record fall to 6-1-1.
I would have done things a lot differently looking back now and Im an all round better fighter than I was before I met Jennings. That fight was stopped very prematurely and Id take a rematch at some point in the future if it was offered to me.
While that opportunity would seem unlikely, gaining experience is the order of the day and the learning process continues with a scheduled ten round crack at an old friend.
Ive sparred Haughian plenty of times in the past. Stephen is a good friend of mine but theres nothing you can do in this situation and well have a few beers together after the fight.