Edinburgh boxer Stephen Simmons is putting his professional career on the line as he steps into the ring on the Ricky Burns undercard tonight at the SECC in Glasgow.
The Celtic cruiserweight champion, 29, is fighting for the vacant WBC International Silver title against an opponent five years his junior, David Graf. The German arrives in Scotland with a big reputation.
Simmons, however, who won a bronze medal as an amateur at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, only made the switch to the pro circuit in January 2011 and is surprised at being afforded such a lucrative opportunity so early in his career.
He said: “This is only my ninth pro fight, so with the calibre of the opponent I am fighting, I really am putting everything on this fight as I want to get to the very top. The only way of doing that is fighting the best that’s out there.
“Winning this will push me right through and probably put me into the top 15 in the WBC ratings – it’s such a massive occasion for Scottish boxing all round with such a great show being put together.
“It’s all about hard work and dedication. I’m fighting a guy who is ten undefeated with seven knock-outs and is part of a big promotion in Germany that the Klitschko brothers are under, so it’s a huge fight. It’s my time to shine, I have been serving a boxing apprenticeship really for the past 17 years, so it’s time to step-up and show what I’ve got.”
The show will also feature legendary American ring announcer Michael Buffer, who will welcome the boxers into the arena prior to their bouts.
A patriotic Simmons revealed he has selected Loch Lomond as the song he will walk out to. “I have chosen this song because it will really get the crowd going,” he said. “I am either going to be the fight prior to Ricky Burns or two before so it will be packed. That song will give me goosebumps and just get me so fired up for the fight.”
Meanwhile, South Queensferry’s Paul Appleby will make his comeback at light welterweight against Englishman Lee Connelly, also on the Burns undercard, as he bids to get his professional career back on track after taking a break from the sport in June last year. After four months of intense training, the 26-year-old former super featherweight British champion is raring to go. He said: “It will be the biggest venue I have boxed in. I want to look good in front of the crowd and I’ve got a good few fans coming through. I just want to get in the ring and get some rounds under my belt, and I want to win.”
Appleby believes the home support could prove decisive as Burns puts his WBO lightweight title on the line against Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran.
He added: “It’s going to be a really tough fight for Ricky and Beltran will cause him a bit of trouble, but he’ll have the backing of the crowd and I think he’ll either stop him late on or win by a unanimous decision.”