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Craig Birch speaks to a champion who takes after his dad


ENGLISH champion Craig Lyon believes the bantamweight division is where opportunity can knock as quickly as the boxers move as he prepares to defend his title on Saturday night. Lyon will put his belt up for the first time against another rising star, Josh Wale, on the Sky Sports bill at Bolton Wanderers’ Reebok Stadium.


The 29-year-old won the vacant title with a career-best stoppage of former British title contender Ross “The Boss” Burkinshaw last October, his biggest test since turning pro in 2008. Talk about passing with flying colours – Lyon dropped Burkinshaw in the opening minute of the fight and did not get off his case until his opponent’s corner pulled him out at the end of the fifth round.


It was also an eliminator for the title belonging to British champion Stuart Hall, who has excelled in the role vacated due to Jamie McDonnell’s swift ascension inside a year to reigning European champion.


With Ian Napa’s career on the wane the next generation of British bantamweights have capitalised and Lyon aims to be the next fighter to punch through the glass ceiling.


He said: “My career has gone brilliantly so far, I really couldn't have asked for better, but if I want to be the best in the division I have got to beat everyone and I don't want to dodge anyone.


“Look at how Jamie McDonnell got to where he is, he went from British to European champion just like that and will be knocking on the door for a world title shot soon.


“Stuart Hall has taken a similar path to me, he beat the journeymen and then stepped up in class, shot up the ladder and now he is up there. I am a point in my career where the same thing could happen to me, so I need to look the part and pull off some good wins. But, hopefully, I can win my fight and we can meet somewhere down the line.”


Hall is set to be tied up, for now, defending his title against John Donnelly and a Lonsdale Belt will ride on the next fight the British champion takes. In the meantime, Lyon is looking to make a statement against Wale, who usually campaigns up at super-bantam but has dropped a weight for a shot at the title.


The English champion will have to do more than turn up to win as “The Outlaw” is a tough customer, perhaps an even sterner test than Burkinshaw was last time out. But Lyon agrees that it’s another hurdle he will have to clear to prove himself as one of the best bantamweights in the country.


He said: “I have had my journeymen, now I having my steps up in class and Josh Wale is going to be the hardest fight of my career. It will be the making of me.


“He’s a big, big bantamweight and he’s no mug, he’s aggressive and comes forward like me, so I think it's going to be a tough fight. But he's coming down to my division and that could be a factor in the later rounds.


“I want to go the full 10 rounds at a good pace and that is what I have trained for.”


The name Lyon precedes Craig in boxing but the pros have not seen the best of the family, as Dad John won a record amount of England amateur titles without even turning over to the paid ranks.


His father was an eight-time ABA champion and won eight of nine finals between 1980 and 1989, with Craig himself winning two ABA titles and reaching another final before quitting for three years.


The example of another boxer from St Helens, Commonwealth middleweight champion Martin Murray, enticed him back and Lyon returning three years ago.


Dad gave his full support to the decision to turn pro and the two work together day and night, for Pilkington Glass and in the gym of Wigan Amateur Boxing Club. And boxing is certainly in the blood for the Lyons.


Craig said: “I think my Dad would have made a lot of money if he had turned pro, but he was happy doing what he was doing and that's all that matters.


“My Dad always wanted me to turn pro, he always said that my style was better suited to the pros anyway. He will always have something to do with boxing, I have kept it in the family and my son will probably box as well!”



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shock on the cards for me


If i was Lyons i wouldnt be thinking of his next opponent not quite yet.Saturday night is not just a hurdle its a very large obsticle in Josh Wale

I know Josh quite well with him living just round the corner from me and ive never seen him up as much as this for a fight.Even though josh has come down a weight his training and conditioning for this fight couldnt have gone any better.

I thought he was very unlucky not to get the decision against Willie :big bang: Casey in prizefighter and caseys power never troubled him.Look where Casey has gone on from there.

I think there could be a shock on the cards this sat night at the reebok and my moneys already down on Josh Wale @ 3/1.

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