British boxing: Paul Butler wants Jamie McDonnell fight; Terry Flanagan wants fight at Etihad; Brian Rose says his career on the line

Credit: Frank Warren

PAUL BUTLER EYES ALL-BRITISH WORLD TITLE FIGHT WITH JAMIE MCDONNELL

Former IBF Bantamweight World Champion Paul Butler is eyeing an all-British World Title showdown with Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell. The Baby Faced Assassin fights for the third time under new trainer Joe Gallagher in an eight round contest at the Manchester Arena on April 8.

In June 2014 Butler lifted the IBF crown after defeating Darlington’s Stuart Hall, but vacated the belt a month later. After a spell at Super-Flyweight, the Ellesmere Port star is more determined than ever to land a second World Title at 118lbs.

“I’m hoping we can get this fight out of the way and then push on for another World Title,” said Butler. “It has been talked about for a while now and it’s what we’ve been working towards in the gym. I can’t wait to get in the ring and put in a top performance and move on.

“I’d take any of the Bantamweight Champions but I would hope it would be McDonnell or Zhanat Zhakiyanov. Zhanat has the WBA Super World Title but McDonnell is the name in the division – everyone knows Jamie McDonnell.

“I would like to box Jamie and take his title and then Zhanat would have to fight me as I would be the regular WBA Champion. We’re lucky enough to have two British Bantamweight World Champions and hopefully a fight with one of them can be made. I’m sure McDonnell would be a cracking fight.”
FLANAGAN: “FIGHTING AT THE ETIHAD WOULD BE A DREAM COME TRUE”

Man City fanatic Terry Flanagan wants to emulate his boyhood hero Ricky Hatton by fighting at the home of the Manchester giants. Undefeated Turbo tops an unmissable evening of action when he defends his crown against Petr Petrov at the Manchester Arena on Saturday 8th April, live on BT Sport and BoxNation.

WBO Lightweight boss Flanagan, 32-0-0 13 KO’s, was a special guest at the Etihad yesterday, addressing the 54,000 strong crowd before City battled to an entertaining 1-1 draw with Premier League rivals Liverpool.

The 27-year-old from Ancoats became Manchester’s first World Champion since Hatton with his third-round TKO victory over Jose Zepeda back in 2015 and knows he must get past the dangerous Petrov if he is to secure huge unification showdowns with the likes of WBA Champion Jorge Linares and WBC kingpin Mikey Garcia.

“Fighting at the Etihad would be a dream come true,” said Flanagan. “I grew up as a huge Ricky Hatton fan and there was always a special atmosphere at his fights. The Manchester public bring that special atmosphere and I want those big nights that he had.

“Every time I’ve boxed in Manchester I’ve got a knockout win and I’m aiming to carry that on next month. It’s going to be a big test but one that I’m going to step-up to and deal with. If I’m not on my game he’s a potential banana skin. I have to win this if I want those big unification fights later in the year

“Having thousands of fans cheering me on gives me and real boost and I hope you can all turn out and get behind me on April 8th. I’m looking to make a big statement and I want as many of my fans in there to see it as possible.”

Ward: I’ll smash Hughes on Saturday

Martin J Ward wants to wrap up the Lord Lonsdale belt for keeps before moving onto bigger honours – and meets Maxi Hughes for the third time as he starts that journey on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena, live on Sky Sports.

Ward makes the second defence of his British Super-Featherweight title against Hughes, the unbeaten Essex talent wants to put in an impressive performance to prove that this is the year he will land more major titles.

“I’m going to go in there and smash him,” said Ward. “I want to be in big fights and the sooner they come, the better. I am ready to go now, I am ready to rock ‘n’ roll and the bigger the better now for me.

“I want to be getting up there for European titles, and onto the world stage. I want to get up there now this year. I have been pro since 2012, I have had 18 fights, I have matured and I am ready to take on some of the big boys.

“I want a big fight. I want to be in centre stage on a big fight night and to be involved in the really big fights now. I’ll be 26 this year and I am matured. I watched my last fight back and I didn’t perform well at all, so I have a point to prove against myself and I want to come back with a nice, dominant performance and move on.

“I won’t take Maxi for granted. I have trained and prepared for the best of Maxi. I feel stronger, better than ever and I have matured a lot lately – I can feel it in my body. We’ve got a nutritionist on board now as well and I can see little changes in the shape of my body. I feel strong as an ox and I am ready to do a good job on Maxi Hughes.

“Since our last meeting he has notched up a few wins. He will come with his own ambitions but it is not happening – I’m going to do a good, solid job on him, get his name out of the way, get it done in dusted and move on to bigger and better fight.

“I have all the tools to beat him no matter what he does. I’m just really, really looking forward to this fight on a big platform, a big show, I’ve had a great camp with no injuries so I’m looking to go out there and put a seriously dominant performance on and then step up the levels and get a big fight.

“I’m not looking past Maxi Hughes. I have trained as if I am training for a World title fight, I’ve been very, very disciplined, I have left no stone unturned as they say and if it comes down to a fight, I am the winner. I will hit him hard, hit him fast and I’ll be too fast, too sharp, too hard a hitter – I’m going to be too much for him.

“That is why I’ve done everything as it should’ve been done and more in this camp and I’m ready to put on a big performance and get people talking about me.”

JOE GALLAGHER: “I KNOW DEEP DOWN IF WE’RE GOING INTO A WAR, LOCKETT WOULD RATHER BE IN SMITH’S CORNER THAN WILLIAMS'”

2015 Ring Magazine Trainer of the Year Joe Gallagher says Gary Lockett would rather be in Liam Smith’s corner if his mouth-watering showdown with undefeated British Champion Liam Williams descends into a war.

Former WBO Super-Welterweight Champion Smith and rising Welsh star Williams clash in one of the most eagerly-anticipated domestic dustups in recent times at the Manchester Arena on Saturday 8th April, live on BT Sport and BoxNation.

Liverpool’s Smith might have conceded his World Title strap and unbeaten tag to Mexican megastar ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Texas last September, but his coach insists that ‘Beefy’ is still frothing to re-assert his domestic dominance at 154lbs.

“Gary was a good fighter as an amateur and a good fighter as a pro,” said Gallagher. “He’s a great young coach and is hungry for success. He is willing to learn and wanting to learn. I don’t see it as a rivalry between us.

“If they think they are going to be able to beat Liam Smith and become a Canelo Alvarez overnight – that isn’t going to happen. If they think Liam Smith is damaged goods and is unmotivated after a big pay day – they couldn’t be more wrong.

“We’ve got two fighters. I’m sure he’s very confident in Liam Williams – I’m very confident in Liam Smith. But I know deep down if we’re going into a war, Lockett would rather be in Smith’s corner than Williams’.”


Rose: I have to win the battle of Blackpool

Brian Rose admits his career is on the line in the battle of Blackpool – but says he’ll prove against Jack Arnfield that he can still win major honours as they clash at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.

Rose challenges Arnfield for the WBA International Middleweight title, with his former gym-mate enjoying a purple patch after landing the strap against John Ryder in September and stopped Mick Hall in January in his first defence.

‘The Lion’ lost to Matthew Macklin in his first big fight at Middleweight last April, but the 32 year old believes he’s now grown into the weight and can become a force at 160lbs.

“There is more pressure on me because I have a lot more to lose,” said Rose. “My career is on the line, Jack’s isn’t – Jack will come again. It is quite easy for somebody young and up and coming to take a fight against somebody with a lot of experience who has done so much. For me, I have to think about my future.

“When I win it gets me higher up in the WBA rankings. He is coming off the back of three good wins so it was probably a bit disrespectful of me to say beating Jack doesn’t take me anywhere, because beating him does put me in good stead.

“I don’t think Jack would have ever dreamed of beating me two years ago – that isn’t me being disrespectful, just honest. This is a second coming for me.

“I feel better than when I had the World title fight, and that is the truth. For the Macklin fight I hadn’t had enough time to grow into the weight but this time I feel big around the arms, I feel a lot stronger, I am pushing people about in sparring and hurting people in sparring.

“I can only go off what I have done in training and since the Macklin fight a lot has changed. You will see a new Brian Rose with a different approach. People see me as a technical fighter but I am bringing something else tonight and I hope Jack is ready for it.”

Rose and Arnfield clash on a huge night of action in Manchester as Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla meet in a World Lightweight unification rematch following their epic first encounter in September.

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