UK Boxing: Rogan vs Sexton; Peter McDonagh; George Hillyard

Commonwealth heavyweight champion Martin Rogan is aiming to kick start a renaissance in boxing in Northern Ireland - among young and old alike. The 37-year-old makes the first defence of his title at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on May 15 against Sam Sexton. It will be his first fight in his native Ulster since back-to-back wins over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton. That latter victory has been hailed as one of the best heavyweight fights for years..

And following his thrilling stoppage defeat of Skelton, Rogan says he has been overwhelmed by the response in Northern Ireland.

"The phone hasn't stopped ringing," said Rogan. "And it's not just the press, because I've been asked to go here, there and everywhere - and I'm loving it.

"It's fantastic that I've been able to put a smile on people's faces.

"In fact, I've even calls from former fighters over here saying that because of me they have gone back to the gym and are taking up the sport again.

"And there's even been one or two old folk waving their walking sticks at me saying they can't wait to see me fight on May 15."

But it is with the school-age community that Rogan is proving the biggest hit.

"I've been going to the schools in Belfast non stop," he said.

"I've been taking my belt in to show the kids and their response has been brilliant.

"Yesterday I did a talk on bullying, today it's an anti drugs one, tomorrow I'm sure it will be something different again.

"I'm in a very privileged position because I'm able to make a difference and put something back into the community.

"And if I can inspire a new generation of champions then all the better, but just getting the kids fit and getting a long a bit better is enough for me."

McDonagh brimming with confidence ahead of Daws showdown

Peter McDonagh believes that his topsy turvy career is back on the rise ahead of his English Light Welterweight title clash with Lenny Daws at the York Hall, London on April 11th.

The bout is the chief support to the eagerly awaited Commonwealth title decider between John O’Donnell and Craig Watson on a Hennessy Sports event which is live on ITV4. McDonagh however expects to steal the show just as he did on his last appearance on ITV4 in December.

On that occasion the Bermondsey fighter ended the unbeaten run of Lee Purdy to claim the Southern Area title in one of the domestic fights of 2008. Now McDonagh is promising more fireworks by shocking Daws and staking his claim for a British title shot.

"I took the Purdy fight on short notice,” revealed the 31-year-old. “I knew I could beat him on experience alone but for this one I’ve had plenty of notice and I’ve never been in better shape. In this game you’re only as good as your last fight but I believe I’ve found that little bit extra now.

“I’m more relaxed in my boxing, my training couldn’t have gone any better and I’ve felt great in sparring. I’ve been up to Manchester to do weight training with Kerry Kayes and I’m feeling a lot stronger up at light welterweight. I never had any problems making lightweight but I realise now that it was sapping me of my strength.”

McDonagh is coming off two of the best wins of his career having defeated Canadian based Romanian prospect, Constantin Florescu in Ontario last September prior to the Purdy win. “I took that fight in Canada to see if I still had it. I knew it would be a tough one because he was a good, strong kid and the fight was up at welterweight but I knew it was a make or break one for me. I got the right result over there and then the Purdy fight came along and I knew I’d know far too much for him. In fact he’s lucky I only had 2 weeks notice for that one!”

However McDonagh knows he will have to raise his game yet again to get past former British champ Daws. “Lenny’s a very good fighter and I’m certainly not looking past him. He’s been saying that I’ve never fought in his class and he’s going to stop me but people forget that I’ve been in with some top guys and I beat Michael Gomez before he went on to put Amir Khan on the floor.

“I’m really focused and out to do the business for this one and I think Daws is going to be shocked at my power and endurance. I believe if I win this fight I’ll have earned a shot at the British title or even the European title. I’ve been a pro for 7 years now and never ducked anyone so I think if I can get past Daws then I deserve a crack at British or European honours.”

Daws and McDonagh’s English title clash is the chief support to the Craig Watson – John O’Donnell Commonwealth Welterweight title fight at the York Hall on April 11th. The exciting undercard also features heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury, hot prospect Bradley Evans, crowd pleasing light middleweight George Hillyard and Irish Welterweight champ, Stephen Haughian. Tickets are available from the Ticketline box office on 0844 888 4402 or via

Hillyard looking to return with revenge win over Booth

George Hillyard wants to put 18 months of frustration behind him and gain revenge in the process by beating Tyan Booth at the York Hall on April 11th. The Canning Town crowd pleaser has only had one fight in the last 18 months but a chance to avenge a 2006 points defeat to Booth should prove the perfect re-launch pad.

Their rematch is part of the undercard to the Craig Watson – John O’Donnell Commonwealth title clash with the Hennessy Sports event live on ITV4. Hillyard says he’s itching to get back in the ring and start working his way towards title contention. “I’ve had a few personal things to deal with and you have to put your family before your career but I’m back now and I need to make up for the lost time,” said the 24-year-old.

It won’t be an easy return however as he bids to overturn his points defeat to Booth who hails from the famous Ingle Gym in Sheffield. “Booth’s a decent fighter and he’s coming off a big win in Canada last month. He’s the kind of guy that’s hard to look good against and I found that out to my cost before. But you need to show your class against those type of opponents and you need to be beating these guys if you want to start stepping up through the levels.”

Hillyard believes that he still has plenty of time to fulfil the promise he showed early in his pro career. “I’m still a young guy and I really believe people haven’t seen the best of me yet. I’ve really buckled down now and I know that if I put in the work the rewards will come my way.

“I’d love to get my hands on a Southern Area title and then work up to a British title shot from there. The light middleweight division isn’t very exciting at the moment so I think there’s a real opening there to shake things up and bring a bit of excitement back because I’m always in good fights.

“I’ve always had a pro style. Even in the amateurs I liked to get in there and whack away like the pros. The computer scoring system really didn’t suit me so I couldn’t wait to turn pro. I’ve always had a good dig so I love getting in there and going toe to toe with my opponents.”

The Hillyard – Booth rematch is part of an exciting undercard to the Craig Watson – John O’Donnell Commonwealth Welterweight title fight at the York Hall on April 11th. In the chief support bout Lenny Daws and Peter McDonagh clash for the English Light Welterweight title fight while heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury, hot prospect Bradley Evans, Steve O’Meara and Irish Welterweight champ, Stephen Haughian also feature. Tickets are available from the Ticketline box office on 0844 888 4402 or via

Article posted on 01.04.2009

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