Irish title tilt for Thomas

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BLACKPOOL boxer Jeff Thomas has landed an Irish title shot, only a few weeks into his comeback after a five-year absence.

He will box Stephen Haughlin for the Irish welterweight title in Belfast on June 25.

It is his second shot at an Irish championship – Thomas boxed Oisin Fagin for the light-welterweight strap in June, 2006, being stopped in the seventh of a scheduled ten-rounder.

The Fagin bout was Thomas’ last before he made a comeback to beat Rick Boulter in Colne on points in March.

Thomas, whose mother is Irish, is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

And Thomas is proud of his Irish ancestry. He said: “I have had 17 fights and I reckon 14 of them have been against champions of one sort or another, and that includes Ricky Burns, who is a world champion.

“Though I lost to Fagin, I think I impressed a lot of people that night and that’s why I have got this shot. Chances like this don’t come around very often. I have got eight weeks to prepare for this and I have never had so long in my career to prepare for a championship.

“I am 29 and intend to take this opportunity with both hands because in boxing you don’t get many second chances. My mum is from Dublin and half my family is from Ireland, so I am proud of my Irish heritage.”

Thomas’ preparation is likely to include sparring with old foe Burns.

Since their meeting in 2004, Burns has gone on to win the WBO version of the world super-featherweight title.