Thursday, November 5, 2009

British Scene: Rogan vs Sexton II & McCloskey vs Rasilla Previews

Matt Chudley previews tomorrow night's Sky double-header, featuring two shows from Northern Ireland.

Sky Sports continue their impressive autumn line up with a split location live double header from two big cards in Northern Ireland this Friday.

In Belfast at the Odyssey Arena, local favourite Martin Rogan will be looking to regain the Commonwealth Heavyweight title he lost in controversial circumstances to Sam Sexton at the same venue back in May.

Meanwhile, across Lough Neagh at the Meadowbank Arena in Magherafelt, Dungiven's unbeaten southpaw Paul McCloskey headlines another big card with a challenge for the vacant European Light Welterweight title against short notice opponent Daniel Rasilla.

Sam Sexton vs Martin Rogan II

At 38 years old and having parted ways with highly regarded trainer John Breen to work out at a local amateur gym, the short but exciting career of Martin Rogan could be under serious threat. His moniker 'The Entertainer' is undoubtedly well earned with 2 domestic fight of the year candidates already in the books and another thriller is likely on the cards.

Rogan was a huge favourite heading into the previous encounter in May, and was criticised by many for taking on a soft opponent ahead of a possible European title fight. However, Sexton proved a far tougher opponent than originally given credit for, and the bout turned into a back and forth battle, that ultimately saw Rogan pulled by the ring doctor with his left eye almost completely shut, while Sexton was on the brink of being finished.

Though he may have almost completely lost the use of his left eye, Rogan had turned the fight on its head in the 8th after a tough 7th and after appearing to hold back against a defenseless Sexton for a stoppage from Dave Paris, the defeat left a bitter taste.

Sexton will no doubt look to once again capitalise on his superior boxing skills and try to pick the brawling Rogan apart from the outside. While Sexton did seem to have a good game plan and the necessary skills last time out, his lack of conditioning was almost his downfaill. This could once again be a factor, as having yet to go beyond 8, the scheduled 12 still poses questions for Sexton whereas Rogan showed during the Matt Skelton fight in February that he can stay strong into the championship rounds.

The added confidence and experience from claiming the belt last time out can only benefit the once beaten fighter from Norwich, while the 13 year age gap also looks favourable after a six month layoff for the pair.

Paul McCloskey vs Daniel Rasilla

Barry Hearn brings his unbeaten charge Paul McCloskey back to his home county of Londonderry in a fight for the European title with a strong supporting cast. The 19-0 southpaw had been set to challenge European champion Soulymane M'Baye for the strap but the Frenchman withdrew and vacated after sustaining a bicep injury in training.

While almost all of the biggest names in Irish boxing including John Duddy, Any Lee, Bernard Dunne and Rogan have suffered tough setbacks in the last 18 months, McCloskey has continued to quietly gain momentum in the 140lb division posting solid wins over the likes of Cesar Bazan and Colin Lynes.

An accomplished amatuer, having represented Ireland on numerous occasions and winning a silver medal in the EU championships, McCloskey got a late start to the pro game at 26 and reliant upon his sharp reflexes may need to be moved quickly if he’s to fulfill his potential.

Unsurprisingly there wasn’t a que of fighters atop the EBU rankings eager to take on the tricky stylist a few miles from his home on less than two weeks notice. The unenviable task fell to unheralded 15-2 Spaniard Daniel Rasilla who enters as an opportunist with nothing to lose.

A career lightweight, Rasilla has ventured to Ireland before in dropping a 12 round decision to Andy Murray for the European Union lightweight title in March on the undercard to Dunne-Cordoba. Up from his natural weight and with only 4 KOs to his name thus far, Rasilla will likely play spoiler and see if he can cash in on the erratic and often questionable mainland European judges provided by the EBU.

Also on the card in Magherafelt is British featherweight champion Martin Lindsay (14-0) who looks to stay busy over 8 against teek tough Ghanian Alfred Tetteh (10-3-2) ahead of a fight with mandatory challenger Jamie Arthur in the new year.

In action as well is Barry McGuigan prodigy Carl Frampton (2-0) who appears in his homeland for the first time as a pro. A successful amateur, having boxed internationally Frampton will be taking on 1-5-2 Hungarian Ignac Kassai as he looks to make an impression on the domestic super bantamweight scene.

e-mail Matt Chudley