INTO THE LYON’S DEN

READY FOR BATTLE: Josh Wale. Picture: Trevor Price.

READY FOR BATTLE: Josh Wale. Picture: Trevor Price.

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BEING on the away end of a War of the Roses battle does not faze Josh Wale – all he wants is the English bantamweight title.

The Brampton fighter received a surprise call at the end of last week to ask if he still wanted to face champion Craig Lyon.

And the 22-year-old had no hesitation in taking the bout he was originally offered a month ago, before it was cruelly snatched away 24 hours later.

So on February 26 he will meet St Helens’ fighter Lyon in Bolton and is likely to face a hostile reception from the Lancashire crowd.

“They’re not going to bother me,” Wale told the Times.

“I’ve already fought in London and Scotland against home town kids.

“I’m a road warrior now so I’m used to it.

“A few boos from them over there aren’t going to put me off.

“I’m going into Lyon’s den and I’m coming out with the English title.”

Wale remains somewhat shocked Lyon’s camp returned to the table with the offer of the fight after appearing to get cold feet following initial positive talks.

But he believes pressure got to the 29-year-old.

Wale said: “There’s been discussions all over the internet about it since it was first mentioned.

“People wanted to see this fight and I think he caved in to the pressure that grew over the last three weeks.

“I can’t believe I’ve got the chance, I thought it was dead and buried.”

Wale believes Lyon’s hesitation over the bout will provide him with a psychological advantage heading into the showdown at the Reebok Stadium in two weeks.

He said: “I had one second to think about whether I wanted it but he’s had three weeks to consider everything about it.

“I haven’t got a doubt in my mind about this. I know I’m going to be the English champion in two weeks.

“He can’t say that because the way he pulled out before shows he’s worried about me.

“I’ll go at him from the first bell while he’ll probably still be wondering if he’s done the right thing.”

He also insists he is physically ready for the fight, despite the short notice he received.

“They might have thought they’d catch me off guard ringing up with three weeks to go,” he said.

“But I had a check weight this week and I was bang on the 8st 6lb limit so I’m ready to go now, like I’ve been ready to go for a few weeks.

“I think I’ll be a lot more ready for this than Lyon is.”

Wale has called into question the quality of Lyon’s unbeaten record ahead of the bout.

Lyon has won all 12 of his fights so far but Wale suggests only a couple of those bouts could be classed as real tests.

He said: “In truth, he’s not really fought anybody except for when he won the title against Ross Burkinshaw.

“He was a very good amateur and won the ABAs.

“But he’s had pretty much his own way so far as a professional so I’m sure that’ll give him a lot of confidence.

“It’s about time he was fighting somebody like me. He’s 29 years old so how long has he got left?

“But I’m going in there to give him hell, he’s never fought anyone like that before.

“I’ve always been willing to fight anybody since I turned professional.

“Look at my record, I’ve fought some tough kids and never been beaten convincingly.

“There’s nothing to suggest he can deal with tough kids in his record.

“That English title is mine.”

Former world light welterweight and welterweight champion Ricky Hatton – whose Sky Sports-televised promotion the bout will feature on – has tipped the fight to steal the show and potentially launch a boxing career on television for the winner.

Headlining the show will be Stephen Foster’s European super featherweight title defence against Belgian fighter Ermano Fegatilli.

Unbeaten former Olympic fighter Joe Murray and Sheffield’s giant heavyweight Richard Towers are also set for the bill.