Quiet confidence from Collins

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The Independent Online

Ireland's World Organisation super-middleweight champion, Steve Collins, who defends his title against Neville Brown in Cork today remains favourite to retain his title and move on to a contest with Nigel Benn or the new World Council champion, Thulane "Sugar Boy" Malinga.

Collins weighed in at 11st 13lb 12oz - 12oz more than his opponent. Brown, however, has the advantage of the input of Brendan Ingle, the Dublin- born Sheffield-based man behind Naseem Hamed. Ingle believes he has the game plan to end Collins' reign where it began 12 months ago when he dethroned Chris Eubank.

Ingle said: "Steve is a typical Irishman who comes forward all the time and, if he doesn't get you with a punch, he'll hit you with his shoulder. But he is slow on his feet and Neville has the craft to catch him and move away. I expect a very technical fight - a battle of wits. If Neville listens to me, he'll win."

Ingle, who also handled the career of the former British middleweight champion Herol Graham, believes that he brings a touch of luck to Brown's career which slumped after he was beaten last year by the American Anthony Ivory.

"When Neville won the British title against Frank Grant, I was in his corner but then he drifted away from me and when he fought for the European title he lost," Ingle said.

A stoppage of Shaun Cummings in defence of his British title has since given Brown new confidence. "He brought me in for the Cummings fight and did the business," Ingle said. "So maybe I have a special touch."

But Collins, who outpointed Cornelius Carr in his last defence despite a below-par performance is confident. The 31-year-old from Dublin has been preparing in Jersey with the American trainer Freddie Roach and knows he cannot afford to slip up at this late stage of his career.

"I based myself in Jersey this time because I suffered from jet lag against Carr," Collins said. "Brown is a decent puncher and because he's moved up in weight he'll be stronger. And because he's fighting for the world title he'll be a much better fighter."

Collins, who has never been stopped, should weather the early storm from Brown and retain his title on points.