Boxing: Havard looks for home lift

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(First Edition)

FLOYD HAVARD, the Swansea southpaw, knows that the odds are against him in Cardiff tonight when he However, he feels that with home support he can rise to the occasion.

Havard, 28, has boxed just twice since December 1991, having undergone surgery on his right hand. But when Frank Maloney offered him the opportunity of fighting for the title, Havard felt he had to take it. 'People think I'm mad, but I wasn't going to miss this chance,' he said.

'It's a dream among dreams. I would have liked a couple more fights, but you only get certain chances in life and I wasn't going to let this one slip away. There is no doubt that Molina is one of the best world champions around.

'From what I've seen of him on tape, he looks the complete fighter. But I think he's having a bit of weight trouble. There will be a big crowd behind me. That will lift me by 50 per cent and then the pressure will be on Molina.'

Havard will need that lift if their fight records are any guide. Although Havard had a distinguished amateur career, he has yet to fight in the top professional grade. Molina on the other hand has 10 world championship fights in his record of 36 fights, 33 victories and 24 knock-outs.

After winning the title from Lorenzo Smith last October, Loughran's confidence is high. He is looking forward to relishing the home support and predicts his opponent will 'go in six'.

'The confidence now oozes out of me,' Loughran said. 'The Smith fight, in some respects, passed me by. I hadn't fought in Belfast for four or five years and it all came upon me so fast. I didn't really get a chance to soak up the atmosphere.'

Duran, the leading contender for Gary Jacobs's European title, is a similar fighter to Smith against whom Loughran had to come from behind to win easily on points. Drawing on his experience against Smith, Loughran is confident that he will be able to cut off the ring spaces more effectively and dominate the fight earlier. The Italian, however, is an accomplished boxer and Loughran may have to go the full distance against him.