The final press conference for Friday’s huge #MTKFightNight event at the Ulster Hall in Belfast took place on Wednesday – with all of the fighters in a confident mood ahead of this weekend’s action.
The fight card is live on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and also live on iFL TV, as Steven Ward (11-0, 4 KOs) and Liam Conroy (17-4-1, 9 KOs) meet in a 10-round contest for the vacant WBO European light-heavyweight title.
Tyrone McKenna (18-1-1, 6 KOs) and Darragh Foley (17-3-1, 9 KOs) fight over 10 rounds for the vacant WBC International super-lightweight title, while there is also an intriguing eight-round welterweight clash between Liam Wells (5-0, 2 KOs) and Paddy Gallagher (15-5, 9 KOs).
Hard-hitting Lewis Crocker (8-0, 6 KOs) also returns in an eight-round contest as part of a packed undercard, and here’s what all of the men had to say at the final press conference.
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Ward: “I want to keep moving forward and moving up. Liam Conroy has been where I want to be at British level and beyond, so all being well I’ll get past this fight and I’m sure I can push on for that level after this.
“The Belfast crowd will be unbelievable. These shows that MTK Global are putting on there seem to be happening all the time now. With ESPN+ and IFL TV on board too is great, so they’re really going from strength to strength.”
Conroy: “This is not personal for me. I’m not going to say anything bad about him as this is just a sport and I’m here to box to my best and bring that title back to Barrow.
“We’re both family people and down to earth. I don’t know him well enough to say how similar we are, but as fighters I think our styles blend well. We had a lot of good spars that were always fairly close, so it looks like it’ll be a good fight on Friday.”
McKenna: “Foley is an entertaining character. We’ll both be having a war and will be in the trenches on Friday. I’ve prepared for an exciting fan friendly fight and that’s what I think will happen.
“He was ranked fifth in the world at one stage, so hes a good fighter, and if I come through this like I’m expecting to then I should be looking at high ranked fighters after that. I’m wanting to push on soon.”
Foley: “There’s going to be a new king in town on Friday night. I was listening to McKenna’s interview talking about the fans backing him, but it’s all just noise and I’m going to enjoy that great atmosphere.
“We’re two fighting men, and there’s no need to add any spice to it. People will be talking about this fight for a long time, so may the best man win.”
Gallagher: “He’s in with my in his sixth fight, and in my fifth fight I was in Prizefighter and was also looking to step up, so it’s sort of deja vu in a way.
“I see a lot of myself in him which is good. It’s great that’s he’s taking this fight and it’s a massive fight and a step up for him. If I lose it could be career over as really he’s a 5-0 novice with no amateur career, but I’m coming to win.”
Wells: “This is a big fight for me early into my professional career and Gallagher is a great fighter to be facing, but this is what I’m all about.
“I feel honoured to be in the ring with him at this stage after only having fight fights, but I’m going to show everybody my ability this weekend.”
Crocker: “In my last fight I used my boxing brain and picked up the win easy enough. I got the six rounds handily enough, and now I think my opponent on Friday is more suited to be hit.
“I’m getting better and sharper with each camp, so I’m expecting to produce a really vicious performance at the Ulster Hall on Friday.”
MTK Global Professional Development Coordinator Jamie Conlan: “This is our third show this year in the Ulster Hall, plus we’ve got Feile coming up in seven weeks time, and we’ll hopefully have a couple more at the Ulster Hall later this year.
“We believe the quality and quantity of boxers in Ireland, and Belfast especially, is destined for these big nights. We’re having these shows in the Ulster Hall now but we believe in the future we can sell out the SSE Arena and beyond.
“Liam Wells against Paddy Gallagher will be fight of the night for me. It’s a potential crossroads fight so that stands out, but McKenna against Foley obviously has got war written all over it.
“We’ve got Steven Ward getting his first big chance against Liam Conroy too, so from top to bottom you are getting your money’s worth.”