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Napa's chance to prove a Euro star

PUBLISHED: 17:27 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:42 05 October 2010

By LEN WHALEY IAN NAPA will step into the ring at York Hall tomorrow night determined to erase the memories of his defeat by Simone Maludrottu in a European title showdown in Dagenham last year. Dapper Napa was outpointed by the Italian veteran at the

By LEN WHALEY

IAN NAPA will step into the ring at York Hall tomorrow night determined to erase the memories of his defeat by Simone Maludrottu in a European title showdown in Dagenham last year.

'Dapper' Napa was outpointed by the Italian veteran at the Goresbrook Leisure Centre in March last year and appeared unlikely ever to fulfil his big-time ambitions in boxing.

Yet that defeat has marked the turning point of the Hackney campaigner's career. Since then, east London's battling bantamweight has stormed back with four straight victories, clinching the British title with a win over Jason Booth in July last year.

Now promoter Frank Maloney has rewarded the resurgent 30-year-old by bringing his European title fight against Belgium's Carmello Ballone to Bethnal Green - and Napa is convinced he can avoid another Euro flop by claiming the coveted crown.

"Since that Maludrottu defeat last year I have really raised my game," Napa said, adding that he is currently in the best shape of his 10-year pro career.

"The recent British title fights have made me more comfortable going the 12-round championship distance."

Napa knows that victory at York Hall could set him up for a chance to fight for the sport's biggest honours and he admits: "It would be just great to win a world title - that has always been my dream."

But he can take nothing for granted against Ballone, who has six straight wins, including a stoppage of previously unbeaten Eugen Sorin Tanasie to take the European crown back in December.

The 32-year-old is dubbed 'the Belgian Butcher' and his nickname hints at the contrasting approaches of the two fighters, with stylist Napa likely to face a fearsome test as he bids to prise the belt away from his opponent.

In addition to Napa's headline fight, promoter Maloney has lined up a cracking undercard that includes lightweight Graham Earl, who needs a win to get his career back on track, and undefeated light welterweight Ajose Olusegun, who is on the verge of being nominated for a shot at WBC world champion Timothy Bradley.

Tickets are available by logging onto www.frankmaloney.com or by calling the box office at 0871 2261508.

Sky Sports will televise the action live starting at 9:30pm.

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