It's a big night for city boxers JJ and Maguire

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IT'S a big night for local boxers JJ Bird and Michael Maguire tonight.

IT'S a big night for local boxers JJ Bird and Michael Maguire tonight.Bantamweight Maguire makes his eagerly awaited professional debut in Sheffield while Bird will be looking to edge closer to a light-middleweight title shot.

After narrowly missing out on a place in the GB team for the Beijing Olympics, Maguire (19) turned professional with the Hayemaker Boxing camp in the summer.

And considering his amateur career took in nine national titles and two European titles, and he finished up ranked number one in the world at Under 19 level, great things are expected of the Eastfield teenager.

Already likened to a young Roberto Duran by his trainer Adam Booth, Maguire makes his first appearance in the paid ranks on the undercard to the British light-middleweight title fight between Ryan Rhodes and Jamie Coyle at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre, a show which is being screened live and exclusively on Setanta Sports.

Maguire has spent time preparing for the fight at the new Hayemaker Boxing training camp in Northern Cyprus and has impressed his new handlers.

“These are very exciting times for Michael and Hayemaker Boxing,” said Booth. “Michael is one of several top-class amateurs we have taken on and we will make people sit up when they realise Hayemaker Boxing’s intentions to make a major impact in world boxing.”

Bird meanwhile will be out to prove his brilliant victory over European title contender David Walker from London in June was no fluke when he boxes on the Carl Greaves show at the Grove Leisure Centre in Newark.

Bird has shot up to 16th in the British light-middleweight rankings on the back of that success, which came in only his sixth pro bout, and promoter Greaves believes that a good win tomorrow against Alfreton’s Dale Miles could see him close to securing a title shot.

Greaves said: “JJ’s bout against Dale, who is unbeaten, over six rounds could be the fight of the night. JJ’s just coming off a great win over Walker and Dale’s just defeated another 7-0 prospect. So this should be a great match.

“JJ is a very exciting prospect with an excellent trainer and manager and now me as his promoter. I’ve done a three-fight deal with him and if he does well I’ll be hoping to get him an area title shot after that.”

Bird’s trainer is Gary De Roux, Peterborough’s former British featherweight champion, and he added: “This is a very important fight for JJ. There was no pressure on him when he fought Walker – he was a massive underdog. But this time there is real pressure as he has to prove that win was no fluke.

“But I have every faith in JJ. He’s only just turned 22 and is getting stronger all the time and his skill levels are rising with every fight.

“And JJ fully realises that professional boxing is a tough game. He knows you have got to put the work in to achieve results and is prepared to do just that.”

Bird said: “I’ve trained really hard for eight weeks and done loads of sparring in the gym with Tariq Quaddus and Rory Malone, who are both southpaws like Miles. If there were critics after the Walker fight then I have to silence them. I need to cement my place in the rankings.”