Boxing: Magee faces tough test against Reid

After six months of mismatches involving British boxers, late postponements and ridicule, the sport finally has a fight between two men with too much to lose and 6,000 people keen to watch one of them fall apart.

So far this year there have been few highlights in British boxing but tonight at the crumbling but atmospheric King's Hall in Belfast, the unbeaten local idol Brian Magee meets Runcorn's Robin Reid in the type of fight that even the cynics are looking forward to.

For once a world championship belt has not been part of the pre-fight publicity, though Magee will be defending his International Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title.

Reid, who is a young 33, won a bronze medal in Barcelona and his career peaked in 1996 when he defied the odds to stop Vincenzo Nardiello and win the World Boxing Council super-middleweight title in Milan.

Reid managed three impressive defences before poor tactics and judgement led to defeat by South Africa's Thulane Malinga. But two years later in 1999 Reid lost a split decision to Joe Calzaghe, still Britain's best boxer, in another world title fight.

Since then Reid has often gone through the motions in spurious world title fights against often woeful contenders.

His caution and safety ended controversially last December when he clearly beat Sven Ottke to win two versions of the super-middleweight title but the three officials at ringside disgracefully handed the verdict to Ottke.

Magee has never met anybody with Reid's experience or composure and his unbeaten sequence of 22 is under threat.

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