Boxing: Magee steps up to ward off Barbosa's challenge

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The Independent Online

Brian Magee, the International Boxing Organisation super-middleweight champion, will make the first defence of his title against Puerto Rico's Brian "The Bull" Barbosa on Saturday night at the Everton Park Sports Centre in Liverpool.

Magee was to have fought the American James Crawford but he has pulled out through injury to be replaced by Barbosa, who promoter Barry Hearn believes is a genuine threat.

Certainly Barbosa has a record that justifies him being regarded as a worthy challenger to the Belfast southpaw, who catapulted on to the world scene with a stunning first-round knockout of the former IBO champion, Ramon Britez.

Now he steps up another notch in class to face Barbosa, who in December 2000 lost on points to Carl Daniels in an International Boxing Federation world title eliminator and in 1996 knocked out the highly-rated Robbie Allen. Barbosa boasts 21 knockouts from 29 wins, has suffered just five defeats and at 28, still has enough to offer to make it a hard night for Magee.

Promoter Hearn is hoping that Magee will give Belfast the boxing hero they crave.

"I believe Brian can become a big star and bring back some great nights for the Belfast public who love their boxing heroes," Hearn said.

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