4 March 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Anthony Fitzgerald knows exactly the kind of challenge he faces in his bid to claim the EBA middleweight title after he literally got a ring side seat to opponent Affif Belghecham’s capabilities.
The Pride had one of the best seats in the house when Adny Lee, who takes on Scot Craig McEwan on March 12, was brought the distance by the experienced French fighter and recalls vividly a shot which rocked his fellow Irish middleweight in the penultimate stanza. Irish Champion of the Year Fitzgerald also noted that Belghecham (19-6) severely tested undefeated former European champ Darren Barker and admits he faces the toughest bout of his paid career on the chief support bout to stablemate Willie Caseys title tilt.
However, despite being fully aware of the threat posed by former European title challenger, the Dubliner is confident of victory. The Irish super middleweight champ, who has aspirations to fight Limericks Lee, believes if he can reproduce the performance he put in against Kevin Hammond last December he will break into the world top ten.
“He will prove the toughest ever opponent I have faced. He has lost his last three but all those losses came against world class opponents. Darren Barker was lucky to beat him. I think Belghecham could have won that fight. He also shook Any Lee in the second last round when he fought him and won the last round proving his quality. I was ring side and saw that, but I am confident.
I am always confident going into a fight. There is no point approaching a fight doubting the fact you are going to win. I am ranked number 4 by the EBA. I am looking forward to beating Belghecham and becoming number one. If I win I will also be in the world 15 and if I put in as good as a performance as I did against Hammond I could break the top 10, the Dolphil fighter explained before commenting on Internet criticism.
I dont let criticism bother me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we will see what they have to say when I beat Belghecham.
Meanwhile Ian Tims did an about turn and seems intent of killing Michael Sweeney with kindness ahead of their much anticipated Irish Cruiserweight title fight. Timsey appeared to want to add a friend before ‘the infamous Facebook bout’, which has been cancelled twice previous, claiming despite some unkind words there was no bad blood between the pair. The former St Matthews amateur also admitted that The Storm represents his toughest opponent to date.
However the Tank, who took time to defend his training regime, believes he will have to much for the Mayo puncher and stressed he will add the professional Irish title too the four amateur ones he claimed.
This is the biggest fight of my pro career. He is the best I fought in the pros, but in saying that I boxed alot better fighters in the amateurs. Not taking anything away from Michael, he is a good lad. Despite the talk there is no bad blood. I dont need that to wind me up for a fight, the entertaining Tims claimed before having another out side the ring dig at Darren Corbett.
I dont have anything bad to say about anyone bar one mouth that should be in the retirement home from up North (Darren Corbett). But Michael is my main focus at the moment. Michael’s style and my style will ensure it is a great fight, but I am confident I will win, the Pascal Collins trained pugilist added.
Training is going great. In fact its going perfect. I am in great shape. It is the fight I have been waiting for, for the last year. I am just looking forward to March 19 now. There are rumours out there about me, that I dont train the best but thats not true I am working hard as usual for this bout. We were a bit unlucky we didnt get this on last year, but I got injured and he got injured, but thats boxing. Winning the title will open up doors for me. Anthony Fitzgerald, Andy Murray and even Andy Lee won Irish titles starting off and see what it done for them.”