17 February 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Anthony Fitzgerald has been given the perfect opportunity to prove his many detractors wrong after agreeing to fight Affif Belghecham for the vacated EBA Middleweight Title in the chief support bout to the Guillermo Rigondeaux and Willie Casey WBA interim title fight.
The Irish Champion of the Year has been criticised in recent months for seeking a fight with American based Irish contender, Andy Lee, and for predicting a 2011 move beyond domestic level.
A victory over Belghecham will certainly prove the perfect continental acid test for Fitzgerald and victory on March 19 would earn the Pride a top 15 WBA ranking as well as another belt. Belghecham has gone the distance with both Lee and former EBU champ Darren Barker and the formerly touted French puncher could prove the perfect launchpad to bigger and better things for the WBF Inter-Continental title holder.
We have said all along that this year was going to be my year and here we are fighting for the European title. If I win and Im up into the top 15. You can be sure Im going to give this lad everything I have to keep that belt in Ireland. After that who knows? all Im looking at is him and that title and nothing else, March 19 will silence a lot of critics I hope.
Belghecham, who was deemed a worthy 21st opponent for Lee, represents 13 fight pro Fitzgeralds biggest test to date, but Irish coach of the year, Phil Sutcliffe is adamant his charge is ready.
Anto has been World class in the gym. We’re going on the World stage now and were going to take anybody that wants to take us on. Pretty soon well have another top Champion in the gym alongside Willie (Casey). Hes had the best preparation for this fight and people there in Citywest can expect to see a different animal between those ropes, this is Antos chance and theres going to be no stopping him.
In other undercard news the highly anticipated fight between Alexi Acosta and former European title challenger Paulie Hyland has been called off.