Big-time boxing back in the West
CHRIS Sanigar has won his battle to bring big-time boxing back to the Bristol region after an absence of eight years.
The Bristol-based promoter and manager will join forces with Mick Hennessey to stage a high-profile ten-fight show at the Hand Arena in Clevedon on Saturday, July 7.
By far the biggest boxing event to be held in the Bristol area since Olympic champion Audley Harrison fought Julius Francis at Whitchurch Sports Centre in 2004, the Hennessey Sports/Sanigar Events bill will feature rising British heavyweight star Tyson Fury.
Exciting unbeaten middleweight sensation Chris Eubank Junior will act as chief support, while Bristol's Lee Haskins will contest the vacant European bantamweight crown against fellow Briton Stuart Hall in what he hopes will serve as a stepping stone to a world title fight.
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All three fights will be screened live on Channel 5.
Having failed to find a suitable venue in Bristol city centre after winning the purse bids for Haskins versus Hall, Sanigar is confident he will sell out the 3,000-capacity Hand Arena.
In an exclusive interview with The Post, he said: "This is by far the biggest event we have staged in the Bristol area in eight years and it is great to have big-time boxing back here.
"Teaming up with Hennessey Sports enables us to stage a show that will have national appeal and help put West Country boxing back on the map.
"We have been held back for too long by the lack of a decent indoor arena in Bristol and that is why we are having to go to Clevedon. But the Hand Arena is an excellent venue and, together with our television deal with Channel 5, will ensure we are able to guarantee generating the money needed to bring some of the country's most exciting fighters to our region.
"We have three great fights at the top of the bill and there will be an opportunity for local boxers to appear on the undercard.
"There is a real appetite for boxing in this area and I'm sure the show will sell out quickly.
"It has been a long time since we have had anything like this in the Bristol area and I'm sure all fight fans in the West will be excited at the prospect of seeing an event that showcases the best of British boxing."
Of his decision to co-promote with Hennessey, Sanigar explained: "We needed a TV deal and that would have proved difficult with Lee Haskins topping the bill. That is when we decided to look for something bigger and turned to Mick.
"I have worked in Tyson Fury's corner in the past and have a good relationship with Hennessey Sports. They come with Channel 5 and their support means we are able to put on a ten-fight show here for the first time since Audley Harrison boxed in Bristol all that time ago in 2004.
"It is a shame we cannot find a suitable venue in Bristol, but that has been a problem for a long time now. I felt it was important for Lee Haskins to have home advantage for such a big fight and I'm delighted we can make this happen at Clevedon."
British Boxing Board of Control officials declared themselves satisfied when they inspected the venue earlier this week and the show was finally given the go-ahead last night after Channel 5 representatives visited the Hand Arena.
Although Bristol fight fans will be excited by the prospect of watching Lockleaze-born Haskins in action near his home city for the first time since 2007, unbeaten former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Fury, 24, and Eubank, son of ex-world super middleweight king Chris Eubank, will prove an even bigger attraction and guarantee a nationwide television audience of hundreds of thousands.
One of the hottest properties in British boxing, Morecambe-based Irishman Fury has won all 18 fights (13 inside the distance) since turning professional and signing for Hennessey in 2008. His opponent on July 7 has yet to be named, but it is expected the Cheshire-born traveller will take another important step in his quest to land a crack at world champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko.
An opponent has also still to be found for Eubank, the Hove-based middleweight who has won all four of his paid outings to date.
WBA Inter-continental and IBF International bantamweight boss Haskins, 29, bids to become the first Bristolian to win a European title when he goes head to head with Hall, the former British bantamweight champion from Darlington.
Tickets went on sale today and can be booked by calling the box office on 01179 496699.