Fitz v Affif preview

18 March 2011 – Jonny Stapleton

Anthony Fitzgerald is adamant his performance on this Saturday nights world title undercard will be the polar opposite to the display he produced the last time he graced the biggest stage.

The Pride – who challenges the experienced Afif Belghecham for the vacant EBA middleweight title in the chief support bout to stablemate Willie Caseys WBA interim title clash with Guillermo Rigondaeux – suffered a shock knock out defeat at the gloves of the unknown Janis Cernouskis on the same show that Bernard Dunne unbuckled that same WBA belt from the waist of Ricardo Cordoba. And the Irish Champion of the Year is adamant there will be no repeat performance in his second innings on a world title card.

Indeed, Fitzgerald stressed the only thing his clash will have in common with his third paid outing is that there will be a stoppage. However this time round he claims he will be taking the short route to victory over former Darren Barker and Andy Lee foe Belghecham. The Dub, who points to that ill-fated night in 2009 as the true catalyst behind the turn around in his boxing fortunes, is adamant he will not suffer KO embarrassment in City West and claims he will astound rather than aggravate the thousands in attendance.

That defeat on the Dunne undercard was a shock to the system, but it was either climb back up or give up. I climbed back up and look were I am now. I think that knock-out was the best thing that happened me. Getting stopped in front of 9000 people so close to your doorstep is a wake up call. This time round I will be doing the knocking out.

This time in front of 5000 people I will make a positive impression on the crowd. Everyone there will be impressed by me after this fight. They will be all taking about me after I beat Belghecham on Saturday night, Fitzgerald explained.

I wasnt training properly then. I wasnt getting up a 6am and doing my 10 mile runs, I was getting up at midday and putting a half hearted effort in, in the gym. I have discipline now and I am putting in the hard work and reaping the rewards, the Dolphil fighter added.

Belghecham has Irish previous having fought Andy Lee and the former EBU challenger and EU champion certainly has the pedigree to trouble the Irish super-middleweight strap holder. However, where some see potential danger Fitzgerald sees opportunity. The Dolphil fighter believes placing a win over such a respected pro on his CV will help him progress to EBU level.

This fight will get my name out there. He fought Darren Barker and I think he beat Barker so if I win this and Barker is EBU champ that will be the fight I will want next. In saying that I am not looking past this one. The training is done now. I am just looking forward to stepping into the ring and taking that belt. We have been studying him for the last couple of weeks and we have come up with a plan. I can assure you he is getting beaten. He is experienced and tough he will stand with me. I am looking forward to that. I kept busy over the last 12 months and I am starting to reap the rewards now. It is the biggest fight of my career but I am not nervous as usual I am confident.

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