Magee set to fight for world title

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The Independent Online

Eamonn Magee, of Ulster, will challenge America's World Boxing Union light welterweight champion Mickey Ward on 15 July at the London Arena, it was announced yesterday.

Magee, the Commonwealth champion, will make his first assault on a world title on the supporting bill to the world heavyweight title defence by Lennox Lewis against the South African, Frans Botha.

Ward, from Boston, has already seen off one British fighter when he took the title from Liverpool's Shea Neary in March, stopping the "Shamrock Express" in a thrilling bout.

Magee's manager, Mike Callahan, said: "This fight is going to be another thriller. Eamonn is the best Irish fighter for many years and I believe he will lift the world title though Ward is certainly no pushover.

"There are many mismatches in boxing today, but this is a genuine 50-50 fight. Both fighters can hit hard and both will fight to the finish, but I'm confident Eamonn can come through it."

It is a major boost for Magee, who was pulled out of the Lennox Lewis-Michael Grant bill at Madison Square Garden just 48 hours before he was ready to fly out for his fight with the American, Reggie Green.

Magee said: "This more than makes up for missing the New York fight. Ward knocked out Green last year in a great fight and I was at ringside when he beat Neary so I know what to expect.

"He's a genuine world-class fighter, but I believe I'm world class as well and I'm ready to take his title. I'm ready to do whatever is necessary to win.

"This is what any fighter dreams of when he first starts out and I intend to take myopportunity."

The International Boxing Federation featherweight champion, Paul Ingle, will also be on the multi-title bill and is awaiting confirmation of his opponent for a second title defence.

Kostya Tszyu, of Australia, will defend his World Boxing Council super-lightweight belt against the Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez in July. The bout will take place in Las Vegas on 15 July.

"Chavez is a very experienced fighter. The worst you can do is underestimate him." said Tszyu, who won the title by stopping Mexico's Miguel Angel Gonzalez in August last year. His record stands at 24 fights with 22 wins, a loss and a draw, including 20 knock-outs.

Chavez has been the WBC's junior lightweight and junior welterweight champion as well as the World Boxing Association's lightweight champion in a once stellar career that his critics say has gone on too long.

He will turn 38 just three days before he steps into the ring against Tszyu, who is eight years his junior. He made 19 successful defences of the WBC title held by Tszyu between 1989-96 .

"He was the world champion for more than 10 years across three different weights and this will be his last chance to get the title back," the Russian-born Tszyu said.

"If he trains properly he will be tough to beat. [Chavez] has got a very heavy, strong punch, just like a brick going through you," Tszyu said.

"It can't really damage you straight away, but eventually it can happen. I will just destroy him slowly, eventually he will feel the damage."