10 November 2008 – By Cormac Campbell
Lurgan welterweight Stephen Haughian, 15-1 (6KO) believes he has learned his lesson and will prove too much for Italian Giamario Grassellini, 17-2-2 (10KO) at the second time of asking.
Haughian fought Grassellini for the IBF Intercontinental title at the Kings Hall last December and looked unfortunate to drop a 12 round split points decision. Now 11 months on, the John Breen trained star tells irish-boxing.com that he is supremely confident ahead of their November 15, Castlebar rematch.
The last time I was a wee bit conservative, he said.
I was holding back because it was the first time I was going 12 rounds. Also he was a champion at the time as well so I had that in my head. It was a big step up for me fighting six rounders to fighting for a title.
Despite disappointment at losing his unbeaten record, Haughian admits that he learnt a lot on the Duddy v Eastman undercard.
These opportunities arise and you have to take them. John asked me and I jumped at it. I knew it was a big step and I didnt hesitate.
I had him going a couple of times and I didnt take advantage but Ive come on from that so this time will be different. In hindsight I could have jumped on him. I have definitely improved and matured from that fight which was a great experience. To go 12 rounds with a title holder was a big step at that stage of my career. I felt on the night that Id won the fight but I hadnt got the decision.
Second time around the fight will be over eight rounds, again Haughian believes this will assist him.
If the last fight had of been over eight rounds I would have got the decision.
A gifted amateur, many critics felt it was too soon for Haughian to abandon the headguard and vest in 2005, however he insists that he made the correct decision.
I won the Ulster Intermediates and didnt hang around for long after that. I fought one senior fight against Willie McLoughlin who boxed for Ireland in the Europeans.
On the way up I fought for Ireland and Ulster a few times so I had good experience. But John approached me after I won on the Dockers v Repton show against an English international and said he thought it was time to go pro.
Whats next for the former Clann Eireann clubman remains to be seen, but upon completion of his Sports Studies degree and Italian assignment, at the end of this year, the personable 23-year-old will be hoping to make an assault on the British title in 2009.
Kell Brook is British Champion. He is 17-0 and his record looks good. But I would fancy my chances with any of those boys at the top of the British rankings there is nothing spectacular there.