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Liam Alford: “If I feel I can catch him in the first round and get him out of there I may as well!"

Shannon kickboxer to defend his world title in Wexford

LOCAL kickboxer Liam Alford will defend his WKA World light welterweight title for the first time this Saturday night in Wexford.

Liam faces French fighter Julien Letellier as he attempts to retain the title he won last year in the UK.

When he spoke to The Clare Champion this week Liam said he was ready to go – “I’m feeling good, I feel sharp, feel ready. Well prepared.”

He felt that his training has gone well in recent weeks and left the impression no stone had been left unturn, saying, “You fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. We never fail to prepare.”

Liam is in the army, and his training has to take place around his day job.

“We train before I go to work, do a bit of training at work depending on what we’re doing, and then there’s a hard session in the evening time. It’s always tough, but I embrace it, I enjoy it, and it makes it that bit easier.”

He said he is delighted to be fighting in Ireland this time.

“I haven’t fought on Irish soil for I don’t know how long. Defending a professional world title, I’m over the moon. The plan is to go out there, put on a show and hopefully get a knockout.”

Speaking about the challenger, Julie Letellier, Alford said, “He’s a solid Frenchman, he’s a pro, and he’s obviously up there if he’s challenging for a professional world title.

“I wouldn’t be worried though, not just about him but I wouldn’t be worried about anyone, because I know what I’m capable of and I know the hard work we put in, myself and Howie. We’ve got the skills to cope with whatever anyone throws at us.”

Liam is trained by Howie Vincent, who has led kickboxing in Shannon over the years, and he is also pleased with how training has gone.

“The preparations have been great, it has gone very well. The training camp has been very hard, another seven or eight week training camp.

“He has put in a lot of effort for this, it’s his first defence at home. Training has gone very, very well, we can’t complain.”

By this week training had begun to taper off.

“We train when we can, in the mornings and the evenings, and everything has been going fine. We’re just toning down now, toning it down this week, there’s no sparring at this stage and we’re close enough in terms of weight.”

He said he would love to see a future defence in Shannon.

“We’re expecting a massive crowd, there’s a great undercard on there as well. It should be a massive crowd, it’s just disappointing that we can’t get it in Shannon. We’d have loved to be able to defend it at this time of the year, but hopefully around September or October we’ll have a defence in Shannon. That’s our plan, but we have this fight and that’s where our focus is now.”

However the fact that the fight is in Ireland does make it easier for Liam, who won his world title in Birmingham.

“It’s fantastic that it’s in Ireland. If you had to fly from Dublin it could be eight or nine hours before you’d arrive in England. Wexford’s only a few hours down the road so it’s great to be able to relax a small bit, get to the hotel and get the weigh in over and done with.”

He expects that there will be good support from the Shannon Kickboxing club.

“It’s just about getting transport down, a lot of the young lads up here wouldn’t have cars, so it’s about arranging transport.

“If you’re running buses it costs an arm and a leg at the moment. But we’re hoping that there will be a big crowd from the club.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.