TRAINER Kevin Maree believes professional boxing’s return to Blackburn in September could help to produce another wave of new talent in the area.
King George’s Hall will host pro boxing for the first time in decades on September 6, with East Lancashire fighters Qasim Niaz, Adam Machaj, Luke Blackledge, Artif Ali, Kurt Grieve, Stevie Taylor, AJ Faizy and Morgan Jackson all scheduled to be on the bill.
Shayne Singleton was also due to be on the card but the date will come too soon for the Colne fighter after the birth of his child.
Instead he will fight two weeks later at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium.
Maree thinks the area is currently blessed with a wealth of emerging boxing talent, and believes the evening in Blackburn will be good both for boxing and the community.
“It’s one of the best things to happen to this area for a while, to get the different communities together, and that’s what boxing’s about,” he said.
“It’s great for the area to have so many Asians and white kids mixing together in the gyms, people will all bring their fans on the night and it will be a great atmosphere. It will be brilliant for the community.
“We believe it was 30 or 40 years since boxing was in Blackburn and the hall is absolutely perfect for it, an atmospheric old building with a balcony.
“With the success of Shayne Singleton this is what happens, you have one lad who does well in the area and others follow.
“For a small area the amount of fighters we’ve produced over the last 10 years is tremendous.
“We started putting on the shows at Colne Muni about seven or eight years ago and young lads who are making their debuts now would come to those shows and think, ‘I want to be on this’.
“A lot of people will come to Blackburn on September 6 and think, ‘I want to do that’. They might not have ever boxed before but another 10 years down the line, they’ll be the ones topping the bill in Blackburn.”
Blackburn fighter Haidher Riaz, who trains with Maree, will miss the chance to fight in his home town as he recovers from a wrist operation. He is aiming to return before the end of the year.
Maree is also putting on a pro boxing show at Gisburn’s Stirk House, where he is based, on October 12.
He hopes another of his boxers, former Prizefighter champion Yassine El Maachi, will make his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury soon and he also has a new recruit – Romanian middleweight Vitalie Mirza.
“For some reason I encounter these characters, I don’t know what it is!” Maree said.
“He’s a friend of El Maachi and turned up at the gym and we got on well. I said I’d manage him and he wanted to train, which is great fun with his limited English!
“I’m going to try to get him some big fights over here. I tried to get him the Chris Eubank Jr fight in Manchester. I couldn’t get that one but I’ll be looking to get him a big name opponent.”