World title hopes on line at Meadowbank – Stephen Simmons

Edinburghs Stephen Simmons, left, will fight Simon Barclay for the IBF European cruiserweight title at Meadowbank. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Edinburghs Stephen Simmons, left, will fight Simon Barclay for the IBF European cruiserweight title at Meadowbank. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
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Edinburgh boxer Stephen Simmons has admitted his world title dreams will be all but over if he fails to secure the IBF European cruiserweight title at Meadowbank on Friday night.

The MTK fighter tops the ‘Capital Collision’ bill alongside compatriot Gary Cornish of Inverness, who is seeking to become the first Scot to win the British heavyweight title.

Simmons was also due to fight for the Lonsdale belt until current champion Matty Askin withdrew from the contest a fortnight ago citing a shoulder injury.

However, 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Simmons believes he has now been afforded a more lucrative opportunity as victory over opponent Simon Barclay would propel him into the top 15 in the IBF world rankings. And, at 33, Simmons accepts time isn’t on his side if he intends to fulfil his ambition of becoming world champion.

“There can be no slip-ups on Friday night because if there were I’d be as well as hanging the gloves up, to be honest,” Simmons told the Evening News. “Every fight is a must-win from here on in. I’ve got to put everything on the line if I want a crack at a world title before I retire.

“In my mind, this is bigger than the British title because a win would put me in the top 15 in the world rankings and move me in the direction of where I want to be. I want to make as much money as I can for my family so I don’t want to be selling myself short.

“I’ve been pro a couple of years longer than him [Simon Barclay] but he looks nice and neat, well-schooled. Everyone has a plan until they get hurt on the night and I see flaws in him which I can exploit. He may see that in me too but I’m very confident of winning the fight.”

Simmons recently became a father for the first time and fully intends to make his wife Nicole and to four-month-old son Ethan proud on Friday night.

“I’ve got extra motivation to win my first belt for Ethan since he’s been born so that really does spur me on,” he said. “It would be so special if I were to get the job done. Every day, I wake up and look at him and it really does gives me that desire to go out there and train even harder.”

Meanwhile, Tommy Philbin says he feels like a new person since vacating the light heavyweight division in June.

The Celtic title is on the line for the 27-year-old, who contests his first fight at super middleweight when he goes head-to-head with reigning Scottish champion Rhys Pagan at the Capital venue.

Philbin has notched up nine consecutive wins since turning pro just over two years ago and now fully intends to tear up the super middleweight division.

“I just feel so much better and healthier in myself,” he said. “I thought I’d find it really difficult to get down to 12 stone but it’s not been too bad. My diet is different, my food portions are a lot smaller and I’ve also been out running six days a week. I always had a wee bit of a gut when I was fighting at light heavyweight but I just feel so much lighter on my feet and sharper so I really can’t wait to put it to the test tomorrow. I think I look better and I’ve even had people commenting on it too!”

Elsewhere, super featherweight Stephen Tiffney is predicting his toughest bout of his career when he steps into the ring with Coventry’s Troy James. Undefeated Tiffney, 28, will face his first test at championship level (ten rounds) against the Englishman, who has suffered defeat on just three occasions from 24 bouts.

“It’s a great fight for myself so I’m expecting a tough night,” Tiffney said. “He’s been in with some really good guys and you can see he is confident of winning and rightly so. Winning this, though, would really put me in the mix so I don’t want to let this opportunity pass me by.”