Paul McCloskey, Martin Lindsay and the line-up for the Betfair Prizefighter all-Irish Middleweights are ready for their huge night at the King’s Hall in Belfast on May 5 – and promoter Eddie Hearn said it’s the first of three big nights of boxing in Belfast for Matchroom Sport in 2012.
McCloskey headlines the bumper night of action live on Sky Sports against two-time World champion Julio Diaz and the former unbeaten European light welterweight king is gunning for a second World title shot this year after his promoter Eddie Hearn told Thursday’s press conference that this triple header with Lindsay and the Betfair Prizefighter will be the first of three huge nights in the capital.
“It’s a massive night for Belfast and one I’m proud to be involved in,” said McCloskey. “I want to be fighting for World titles because I belong at World level, but I am not going to sit around and sulk – I need to be fighting and banging on the door of the World champions until they step up and face me, so battling the likes of a former two-time World champion in Julio Diaz keeps me right in the mix.
“The atmosphere on May 5 will be something very special – every fighter will have their own fans and it’s going to be totally unique. I cannot remember the last time there was a buzz like this here for a big fight night.”
McCloskey bounced back from his disappointment against Amir Khan with a gutsy win over Khan-nemesis Breidis Prescott in Belfast in September, and Hearn said the 31 year-old will be out again in the autumn after Commonwealth super bantamweight champion Carl Frampton gets a big summer date in his hometown.
“I am thrilled to be putting on this great night of boxing for the Belfast fans,” said Hearn. “This is a great boxing city and the passion they have for the sport is one of the main reasons we are putting on this unique night with Paul, Martin and the Betfair Prizefighter. It's all about providing value for fight fans and by combining all three in one night we are delivering a huge night for Irish fight fans.”
“In the summer, Carl Frampton will have a big show in Belfast and we are looking at the likes of Scott Quigg, Rendall Munroe and Kiko Martinez for that one. Then in September, Paul will be out again and I am working tooth and nail to get him another World title shot.
“I have to give great credit to Paul – I gave him over 20 possible names to fight on May 5 and he said yes to every one of them. It has been frustrating for the team but as Paul said, all he can keep doing is winning exciting fights and packing out venues and I know his shot will come.”
Hearn also confirmed that former British champion Martin Lindsay will feature on all three cards as he makes his return to the ring from 15 months out in London on March 23 before kicking off the May 5 Belfast blockbuster.
“It’s great to be back in the fold,” said Lindsay. “I have been in training since December and I feel fantastic so I am confident I will hit the ground running. My absence from boxing has been because fights have fallen through, nothing more than that, so there’s no reason why I cannot be in the mix for a British, Commonwealth or European title later in the year.”
Tickets priced at £30 (unreserved), £40 (reserved balcony or unreserved floor), £60 (outer-ringside) and £100 (ringside) are available from Ticketmaster on 0844 277 4455 – UK/Northern Ireland customers, 0818 719 300 – Republic of Ireland customers and at www.ticketmaster.ie
VIP packages priced £150 are available from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com
Paul McCloskey’s fans can also buy their tickets at the prices above from Eurospar Dungiven and any EuroXchange outlet
SALIDO-LOPEZ WORLD TITLE FIGHT LIVE ON BOXNATION
BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546) will show this Saturday night’s explosive rematch between WBO World Featherweight Champion Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez live and exclusive from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
It will form a big night of action from two continents with Ricky Burns’ WBO World Lightweight title defence against Paulus Moses from a SOLD-OUT Braehead Arena in Glasgow, also live on BoxNation.
Last April, Mexican warrior Salido caused a huge upset when he knocked out the heavy-favoured champion Lopez in the eighth round to capture the title in one of the most exciting fights of the year.
Fearsome Puerto Rican star Lopez is out to prove the only loss on his 32-fight record to Salido was a fluke and that this time the real Lopez will be in action.
BoxNation continues its commitment to showing the biggest fights in the world and has the biggest of the year so far with world pound-for-pound best Floyd Mayweather's showdown against Miguel Cotto, which can be seen live and exclusive on BoxNation on Saturday 5th May from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
BoxNation is the first dedicated subscription boxing TV channel in the UK to bring together the biggest names in amateur, domestic and international boxing with an unbeatable schedule of matches from across the globe.
For just £10 per month BoxNation offers unbeatable value for money for all fight fans. To subscribe to BoxNation simply go to www.boxnation.tv and hit the “Subscribe Now” button and choose your subscription package. Simple!
*Salido v Lopez will be live from 2am on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.tv *
STEPHEN SIMMONS INTERVIEW
Name: Stephen Simmons
Record: 3-0-0 (1)
Family background: I’m number two of four; two boys, two girls. My brother tried the boxing but found it too hard. I think I get it from my uncle Kenny who used to box for Scotland at middleweight. I’ve a five year old son Stephen and I live in Edinburgh with my fiancé Nicole
Trade: I’ve been a full time pro for 12 months and for three years before that I was full time on the GB amateur set-up in Sheffield. At weekends, I do the doors in Edinburgh for a wee bit of extra money till I get a title but I hate it....the abuse you get!
Nickname: It says: ‘Super Steve’ on my shorts but my mates all call me ‘Simbo’
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? I was 12. I was a big lad for my age and always fighting at school or on the street. People tried it on but soon got a fright when I hit ‘em! Once the police started knocking our door my mum decided to get me into the sport. After a few months training, I had my first fight and absolutely loved it.
My mother or my uncle would get regular reports back from the school and, whenever I was ‘bad’, they’d ban me from the gym for a few weeks which really annoyed me. It definitely worked and the boxing helped to get me through high school and pass all my exams.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I started and finished my career at the Leith Victoria amateur boxing club, coached by my uncle Kenny. I was there 14 years, starting as a nine stone 12 year old. I had about 115 bouts and won roughly 80. I never won any Scottish junior titles because there was never anyone else my weight but won three or four Scottish senior (ABA) titles. Several years I didn’t bother as there was no one to fight me so I’d go away on international duty instead.
I’d say at least 80 of my fights were internationals. I went to three European Senior competitions, getting to the quarter finals in Liverpool in 2008, and two World Seniors, making the last 16 in Chicago and Milan. I won the 2006 Four Nations, got five international gold medals, four silvers and 13 bronze. However, I’d say the highlight was competing at two Commonwealth Games tournaments in Melbourne (2006) and Delhi (2010). I loved being in a mixed sport environment, socialising with other athletes from the rougher sports like rugby, basketball and weightlifting.
Another highlight was defeating the Cuban Osmai Acosta Duarte at a multi-nations in Bulgaria, five months before he won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Although the travelling to Sheffield was a pain, being part of the GB set up was a great experience, especially after Kelvin Travis, then Richie Woodhall and Rob McCracken, got involved. My biggest rivals there, Danny Price and Tony Bellew, both beat me but I captained a GB squad on a tour to America that beat the US three times in three different States.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I always intended waiting till after the India Commonwealth Games. I won a bronze so my stock was high and I thought why wait another two years for the Olympics when there was no guarantee I’d qualify?
Tell us about your back up team: I’m promoted by Frank Warren, who puts on the best shows, has the best fighters and gets the most title shots. He also made me the best offer and seemed a genuine guy who I could trust. He’s looked after me well so far.
I managed and trained by Billy Nelson who I worked with for a couple of years when I was amateur so we had a connection. I knew he had an established pro stable that had produced British, Commonwealth and world champions. He thinks similarly to my uncle and I trust Billy 100%. My uncle is still involved in my conditioning. Billy oversees the boxing stuff and my circuits.
I most enjoy sparring and pads, that’s where I most learn my trade. I least like hitting the bags. If you’re on too long, you take your eye off the ball, pick up bad habits.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy?
I do weights three mornings a week and go to Billy’s boxing gym in Stepps (Glasgow) five afternoons a week (Monday to Friday). I arrive at noon, then probably shadow box for 12-15 minutes, then do 10-12 rounds of punches; sparring if there’s someone there or bags and pads. I’ll do a 30minute circuit, a 20 minute skip , then some conditioning. I leave around 2.15 and go for a 30-50 minute run every evening.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities?
I’m a box-fighter that likes to go forward and work off my jab; a lot compliment that. I can go back foot if I need but prefer to be in control. I’m not a one shot banger but I’ve the strength and power to wear opponents down until they can’t cope.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter?
My punch ratio. Throwing more to the body and in combinations. Sometimes I work too much on the jab and need to improve my second and third phase, keeping on top of them.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes?
The pros is slower and you get to think more. Amateur boxing was always a bit of a rush - you had to get off the mark quick and score points - but, though I had a pro style, I needed to serve that amateur apprenticeship, learn my trade there.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with?
Probably the Russian Egor Mekhontsev who beat me in the quarter finals of the 2008 European Seniors in Liverpool. He had great technique, terrific hand speed and footwork. It was a privilege to share a ring with him. Whenever we met after, he always shook my hand and told me I gave him a hard fight. He’s since dropped to light-heavy and qualified for London 2012.
All time favourite fighter: Mike Tyson. An animal!
All time favourite fight: The Gatti-Ward fights.
Which current match would you most like to see made?
Pacquiao and Mayweather. I’d like Pacquiao to win. He’s a great technical fighter who’s been in some wars but it’s 50-50.
What is your routine on fight day?
I’ll be up around 9a.m and eat two big bowls of porridge then go for a walk with my iPod in and try to chill. After, I like to be about people, have a laugh to take my mind off the fight. I can get quite nervous, whoever I’m fighting, but that’s good. At the arena, if I can, I like to go inside the ring and get a feel for it. In the changing room, I do the pads for about 20 minutes and try to get focussed. I’m usually quite calm.
Entrance music: ‘Levels’ by Avicii
What are your ambitions as a boxer?
I’d like to be British cruiserweight champion by the end of this year then win all the other titles on route to a world championship. I’m in no rush, mind. I’ve another 10 years left in the game. I don’t like to shout out other fighters but I believe I could beat (British champion) Shane McPhilbin now. That’s how much self belief I have.
How do you relax?
If I have any spare time which is rare, I go the cinema or for a meal with Nicole or a game of snooker with friends.
Tags: Paul McCloskey , Julio Diaz , McCloskey vs Diaz , McCloskey-Diaz
Football team: Probably Rangers but I prefer the English Premiership. I like Man U.
Read: I hate reading. Boxing News, sometimes.
Music: Dance music....I’m the world’s worst dancer, mind. I just like to nod my head!
Films/TV: I love scary films plus comedy and action. I’m also partial to the odd ‘Chick Flick’! On TV, I like Corrie and Eastenders. I got dragged in by the missus and became hooked!
Aspiration in life: After winning a world title, to open up my own boxing and fitness gym to help out others.
Motto: Hakuna Matata (Don’t worry!) from The Lion King.