Boxing; Beltre covets Loughran's world belt

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The Independent Online

Eamonn Loughran renews his rivalry with Angel Beltre at the Ulster Hall in Belfast tonight, and plans to put the record straight after incurring a rare blot on his career against the Dominican Republic fighter four months ago.

A clash of heads, which left Beltre cut and unable to continue, brought a belated "no contest" decision. The World Organisation welterweight champion from Ballymena kept the title - won in October 1993 - but it was an unsatisfactory night's work and he relishes the chance to win cleanly and clearly in this ordered rematch, his fifth defence.

At 25, Loughran, who weighed in at 10st 6lb 2oz, believes he has the strength and experience to start setting his sights on better-known champions in other divisions. "I feel I'm ready to move on to bigger things," he declared. "This will be a stepping stone after I've put the record straight."

Beltre, at 10st 5lb 8oz, believes he was doing well enough in the first fight to be confident about the return. "I'm going to be a lot more careful this time because he is so dangerous with his head. I don't think he will be able to do the same thing again," he said.