FORMER two-weight world champion, Ricky Hatton has backed plans to bring professional boxing back to Derry for the first time since 1982.
The British boxing legend has promised to do anything he can to help Derry Boxing Promotions’ Seamus Cunning and Co. Derry businessman,
Laurence O’Kane secure a professional boxing bill in the city by the end of 2019.
In a video message Hatton put out on social media, the Manchester man offered his support for the ambitious venture.
“Just a message out to Seamus (Cunning) and congratulations on the fantastic job you’re doing trying to bring boxing back to Derry,” said Hatton. “And if there’s anything I can do to help this to happen then no problem, just get in touch.”
‘The Hitman’ Hatton also offered to meet the British Boxing Board of Control in order to discuss the proposals.
Oakleaf Amateur Boxing Club’s highly rated middleweight, Brett McGinty, is currently training alongside Hatton at the former welterweight’s gym in Manchester as he prepares to join the paid ranks.
Hatton has reportedly offered to train McGinty and is understood to want to showcase the St Johnston man on the proposed Derry bill.
MTK Global, who, incidentally, have tabled a professional contract for McGinty, also recently backed the plans for a Derry show with Professional Development Coordinator, Jamie Conlan insisting the boxing management company had ring-fenced a provisional date of October 11th with the Foyle Arena considered the preferred venue.
Conlan is currently busy putting the finishing touches to this Saturday night’s Féile an Phobail boxing show at Fall’s Park, Belfast where his brother Michael headlines against Argentinian, Diego Alberto Ruiz. However, the West Belfast man has promised to fully focus on the proposed Derry show after Saturday night.
Indeed, Conlan is expected to meet with the British Boxing Board of Control again next week to discuss developments and local promoter, Mr Cunning is delighted to have legendary boxer and promoter, Hatton also backing the bid.
“Whatever Ricky Hatton says, he does,” said Cunning. “He did that when he was boxing and so it’s fantastic he’s getting behind our bid to bring boxing back to the city.
“It’s fast approaching the proposed date for the fight now and we will be meeting with the British Boxing Board of Control next week again where we will put six or seven viable options on the table for discussion.”
The distance from Derry and the nearest neurological unit in Belfast was the main sticking point for the British Boxing Board of Control but with work nearing completion on the A6 upgrade, it could be enough to make the dream a reality.
“The small section of the A6 road between the motorway and Toome is almost ready to be officially opened now and that will take about seven minutes off the journey time which was proving to be the main stumbling block. So it’s looking positive,” added Cunning
Should the event get the green light, Derry professional, Tyrone McCullagh is hoping to put his WBO European title on the line while middleweight prospect, Connor Coyle has also declared his interest in fighting in his hometown.