THE Banbridge district is bracing itself for what promises to be one of the best boxing tournaments ever to be held in the town in recent years.
Banbridge ABC have organised a spectacular Anglo-Irish bout which will take place in Banbridge Leisure Centre this Saturday night at 7.30pm in front of an expected sell-out crowd.
The Scarva Road club will be hosting Bury ABC, the former club of Amir Khan and topping the bill will be his younger brother Haroon Khan, who will be up against Andrew Watson (Lurgan ABC).
Local lads Adam McBurney and Conor Martin, amongst others, will be showing their wares on a bill that has attracted the top talent from across Ireland from renowned clubs such as Imacculata, Holy Trinity, Holy Family, Clann Ofa (Dundalk), Keady, Delgan, and many more.
Five-time Irish champion Andrew Watson, recently visited the Banbridge club for a sparring session in preparation for his second clash with Haroon Khan, who has his sights firmly set on the 2010 Commonwealth games in India and of course the Olympics in 2012.
Having already faced Khan at his home club of Bury, the 17-year-old Lurgan man was only defeated by two points and is eager to get the result this time out.
"I am very excited about this fight, as it will be at home and I have been very focused, I will be going out to win," said Watson.
"I was unfortunate last time out against Haroon and really want to put that right on May 10."
Everyone at the club has played their part in pulling this event together. Nigel McBurney and David Mawhinney have had their work cut out matching fights, but Nigel believes that this show will be as good as promised.
"To be honest everyone has played their part, Anne Murphy (Club President) has worked really hard to get the Bury club over and to organise the venue," said Nigel.
"Our work has only really begun in the last couple of weeks, in terms of organising the bill and making sure that the fights are well matched.
"It is so important that we get the fights right.
"Adam McBurney and Conor Martin are definitely on, Karl Walker and Peter Maughan might be, but we will have to wait and see if we can get them a match.
"All the lads have been training very hard and this is going to be a fantastic experience for them all, to compete in front of such a large crowd."
"The response that we have got for this show has been unbelievable, all the top clubs from Belfast to Dundalk and Dublin have been eager to get on the bill and the tickets have been flying out the door."
The club has been buzzing in recent weeks and that is tangible as soon as you step inside the gym. So much so that even the most seasoned boxers are feeling excited.
Banbridge coach Brian Lyness came on board to help out three months ago and hasn't left since. Brian, a former Irish champion, said that after he stopped boxing that he thought he would never get the bug back.
“There has been such a buzz about the club in the run up to this show and when you look at the line-up you can understand why,” said Lyness.
“It is great for our club and amateur boxing as a whole.
“To be honest, once I had finished boxing I had no desire to get back into it, even in a coaching capacity.
“But, the lads here needed a bit of help, so I came down one night just to give them a hand and that was it- I got hooked again.
“It does help in some ways having been in the ring many times my self, but coaching is something different.
“It is just great to see the young lads coming in here and improving each week. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”
Tickets cost 10 and are available at the boxing club, Super Fry, Bus Bar and Benny’s.
Should you need further information contact the club secretary, Paul Lyness on 07901858274.