14 January 2009 – Press Release
Irish Welterweight Champion, Billy Walsh wants it known that hes not ducking Stephen Haughian and to prove it hes coming to what is effectively Haughians back yard next month to defend his title against the Lurgan man.
The two will clash at the Craigavon Leisure Centre on Saturday, February 7th and the undefeated Walsh is planning on keeping his title and keeping his perfect record intact. Promoter Brian Peters had thrown down the gauntlet to Walsh by accusing the Corkman of ducking Haughian but Walsh says hes more than happy to step up to the plate.
I had been in training for a non title fight in Youghal which was supposed to have taken place this Friday night but that fell through and then the offer to fight Haughian came along again, explained Walsh. I havent fought in almost a year since I won the title and I want to stay busy now.
The former amateur star won the Irish title after a thrilling battle with Belfasts James Gorman on Leeside last January but he has yet to defend the belt. To win the Irish title was a dream come true and to do it in Cork was extra special, said Walsh. The atmosphere was great and Im sure it will be just as good in Craigavon. I know it will be a pretty much a home fight for Stephen but Ill have quite a few of my own fans there as well.
Walsh got off to the best possible start in his title fight with Gorman but the Belfast man came back strongly in the later rounds before Walsh ran out the winner on a close points decision. It was a real crowd pleasing fight, recalled Walsh. Ive watched it back on DVD and I suppose my defence could have been better at times but thats what made it so exciting. Im not afraid to take a few punches as long as I can do a bit of damage myself, I have a good chin.
I was very weight drained for that fight, even though it was for the welterweight title we had an agreement that wed both come in well under the weight to suit James but I overdid it and was far too light. I was only a pound over light welter and it really took its toll in the last round or two. I was completely drained but I knew that I had started strong and won all the early rounds so it was just a case of gritting my teeth until the final bell.
This time around Ill be bang on the weight, welterweight is really my natural weight. Of course I have to work hard to make it but I feel very strong so I think that will make a big difference this time.
Walsh knows all about Haughian and although hes confident of retaining his title he admits it wont be easy. I saw Stephen box when he fought on my undercard in Cork a couple of years ago and Ive seen him box on TV a few times since. Hes a nice boxer and a very nice lad but Ill be putting that aside when the bell goes for the first round.
I think a win over Stephen would raise my profile and hopefully lead to a big opportunity for me. Its been frustrating to have been out of the ring for so long but hopefully this will be the start of a good 2009 for me.
The bout headlines a top quality undercard which features former World title challenger and British Champion, Neil Sinclair as the Belfast puncher looks to build towards another title challenge.
Two-weight Irish champ, Andy Murray from Cavan will also step between the ropes in Craigavon. Having just signed a managerial contract with Brian Peters the undefeated Murray is looking forward to a big 2009.
Another man hoping for a big year is Belfasts Kevin Sweet Pea OHara. By his own admission OHaras career has yet to live up to expectations but with 14 wins from his 18 starts Sweet Pea knows that he has solid foundations to launch a fresh bid for titles in 2009.
Michael Kelly is another man desperate for titles. Currently undefeated in 6 pro fights the Dundalk man has been out of the ring for almost 3 years but the former World Military champ says hes hungrier than ever and wants to emulate the pro success of former amateur rival, Paul McCloskey.
Rounding out the card is popular Omagh prospect, Damian Taggart. The Tyrone man has been mentored by the countys All Ireland winning football manager, Mickey Harte since turning pro just over a year ago and hes hoping 2009 will be a massive year in his fledgling pro career.
Tickets priced 30, 40 and 60 are available from: Stephen Haughian 07595672699 Maurice Haughian 07733413516 Woodville Arms 02838324005 Ashburn Hotel 02838325711 John Breen 07802898054 Breens Gym (above Monico Bar, Belfast) 02890278708 Neil Sinclair 07707971854 Damian Taggart 07746527958 Michael Kelly 0877618356 Coley Traynor 07779594007