EBRINGTON SQUARE could host Derry’s first professional boxing event in over 30 years with Paul McCloskey expected to headline an exciting St. Patrick’s Day Show next March.
SIMON COLLINS reports
As part of the 2013 City of Culture celebrations, plans are at an advanced stage for an outdoor bill which would feature both McCloskey and Banagher middleweight, Eamonn O’Kane among other local professional boxers.
Dungiven southpaw, ‘Dudey’ will attempt to get his world title dreams back on track when he takes on WBA’s No.9, Manuel Perez at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on September 22nd next, live on Sky Sports for the NABA light welterweight title.
And O’Kane features on the same ‘Judgement Day’ bill when he challenges for his first professional title, taking on Scotsman, Craig Windsor Jr. for the Celtic middleweight title.
Should both fighters come through their respective fights intact, then they will put their titles on the line in the Ebrington Square show next spring.
The last time a professional boxing show was staged in Derry City was back in September 1982 when Charlie Nash defeated Frank McCord in the Guildhall and McCloskey’s manager, Francie McNicholl insists it’s time to ‘give something back’ to Derry fight fans.
“We’ve been in talks about staging a boxing event in a temporary building in Ebrington with both Paul McCloskey and Eamonn O’Kane on the bill alongside other local fighters,” said McNicholl.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a big boxing event in Derry so it’s a long time coming. I’m pretty sure we can make this happen. There’s good will on all fronts. Matchroom Sports are keen on the idea, we’re certainly keen on the idea and so are the organisers. So everyone is pushing in the right direction.
“We’re looking at possibly a 2,500 seater and maybe 4,000 standing with the ring in the middle.
“We’ll be holding further talks with the City of Culture organisers on Monday week so we’ll have a better idea where we stand after that,” he continued.
“Matchroom have told us they would be interested if everything falls into place and I’m fairly confident it can be arranged if the infrastructure is right.
“At this minute and time I’m 95 per cent confident we can go ahead with it. I can’t see anything to stop it, providing the venue is suitable for broadcasting on Sky Sports.
“We’re aiming for early in the new year, hopefully on St Patrick’s Day which would be ideal.”
A spokesperson from the City of Culture Programming Team said that both professional and amateur boxing was to play a major part in the 2013 celebrations and confirmed that Ebrington Square is being discussed as a possible venue.
“The venue is perfect for such an event. We could have it with seating, without seating and with or without staging.
“In 2013 we want to recognise the contribution boxing has made to the culture of Derry over the years. There will be amateur events, hopefully a professional event with Paul McCloskey and international shows both at our new arena at Ebrington and at venues such as the Guildhall and throughout the city.”
As McCloskey attempts to ressurect his world title credentials against Perez (18-7-1), a win against the American would ensure a top class opponent for the Ebrington show and McNicholl revealed they already have held talks with a potential world class name.
“Paul wants to keep going forward,” he said. “Should he win his next fight against Perez, then he will be defending the Inter-Continental light-welterweight title in Ebrington and we’ll be looking for a top class name.
“We actually have a person lined up but we don’t want to reveal anything at this stage.
“We could’ve gone for an easier fight for Paul but at this stage of his career he has to fight the bigger names if he wants to keep moving forward.”
Tickets for ‘Judgement Day’ are available from Eurospar Dungiven (02877741245) any EuroXchanger outlet or contact Julie on 07745698372.
Packages to include return bus travel, fight ticket and VIP entry to an official after party, spot prizes are available.
Pick up points (subject to demand) will be Derry City, Limavady, Coleraine, Faughanvale, Claudy, Feeny, Park, Dungiven, Maghera, Castledawson, Toome.
Tickets will also be on sale from 8-9pm on Thursday nights from the Strand Bar. All tickets sold at face value, with no booking fees.