Big puncher Acosta ready for battle with seasoned Machado

THE emphasis will be on the four Irish title fights on the bill, but Cork-based Cuban knockout sensation, Alexei Acosta, is sure to claim a fair share of the limelight when he steps up in class to box former world champion, Felix Machado, in a unique Latin-American duel on the Yanjing Fight Night at the National Stadium tomorrow night.

Machado will be a name familiar to Irish fight fans, having faced Bernard Dunne in 2008 in the Dubliner’s first bout back after his sensational loss to Kiko Martinez.

The Venezuelan southpaw lost on points over 10 rounds to Dunne then, but he will be hoping for better luck against Acosta who has so far KO’d all nine of his professional opponents.

Machado stepped into the breach earlier this week when Acosta’s original opponent, England’s Gavin Reid, was fell ill and the Cuba versus Venezuela match-up brings an international flavour to what’s already a huge night for domestic boxing in Ireland.

Machado, a former IBF super flyweight champ and veteran of seven world title fights, believes he will have too much know how and experience for Acosta, a former world junior champion who will celebrate his 22nd birthday tomorrow.

“I know all about Cuba’s reputation for producing world class boxers but that is in the amateur ranks,” said Machado. “Venezuela has an excellent reputation for producing world class fighters in the professional ranks, and I hope to show the difference between the two nations on Saturday.”

Acosta and the two other Cork-based Cubans, Mike “The Rebel” Perez and Louis Garcia, are going through something of a transition period.

They have split with their former manager, Gary Hyde, who brought the three former world junior champions to Ireland in what was something of a sensational coup and are now managed by Patrick Thomas, a businessman from Watergrasshill.

The arrangement also sees the return of Nicholas Cruz to top flight boxing in Ireland as the Cuban legend, who masterminded Ireland’s gold/silver medal haul at the Barcelona Olympics, will train the trio – all of whom have world title credentials.

Promoter Brian Peters believes tomorrow night’s bout will prove to be a hidden gem on the undercard.

“It’s not too often you get to see a world champion from the amateurs and a former world champion from the pro’s going head to head in an undercard bout,” he said.

The card is headlined by the long awaited duel between Cavan’s unbeaten Andy Murray and Dubliner Oisin “Gael Forde” Fagan with the Irish lightweight championship belt as the prize.

The other three Irish title fights on the card will see Galway’s Coleman Barrett, a former world junior bronze medallist and Irish Examiner Junior Sports Star Award winner, contesting the vacant Irish heavyweight title with Dublin’s Colin Kenna.

Tallaght’s undefeated Patrick Hyland, will make the first defence of his Irish featherweight title against Mickey Coveney, a Londoner of Cork extraction.

Dubliner Anthony Fitzgerald will contest the vacant Irish super middleweight title with Belfast’s Ciaran Healy, a former champion, who was beaten by Cork’s Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in his bid for the middleweight title late last year.

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