Boxing: Ice-man Simmons aims to turn up heat

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STEPHEN Simmons will undertake his first professional title fight tonight when he boxes Ireland’s Michael Sweeney for the vacant Celtic cruiserweight belt at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

The 28-year-old will appear on the Fighting Pride of Scotland show as headliner Ricky Burns looks to defend his WBO world lightweight title against Puerto Rican Jose Gonzalez.

Often referred to as “Simbo” by his close friends, the Edinburgh fighter, who won bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi as an amateur, will look to seize the opportunity against an opponent who has not fought since April 2012. Simmons, meanwhile, steps into the ring with his most recent success coming just three months ago when he knocked out Serbian Jovan Kaludjerovic.

“I’ve been more active than he (Sweeney) has been and I’ve been training all the way through.” Simmons said.

“Having my new coach on board, Danny Vaughan, since last September has been great as we’ve been working hard so I think it’s going to be a really good night for Stephen Simmons.

“I’m going to put all the hard work I’ve been doing in the gym into the ring. He’s had more experience of pro fights (15 to Simmons’ seven) but what sort of opponents has he been fighting? I’m not saying I’ve fought the greatest, but I had a long career in amateur boxing coming up against the best in the world so I’ve taken a whole lot of experience from that.”

Simmons feels he is now at the right age to make his mark in the sport and is confident victory tonight can lead him to a more prosperous future.

“Winning each fight as it comes is what’s important,” he added. “It’s all about a stepping stone, so this is my biggest fight I’ve had.

“It’s live on Sky Sports so winning will open so many doors for me to fight for a Commonwealth or British title. I love fighting in front of my home crowd, so this is going to be extra special and electric. I am focused on winning – it’s as simple as that.”

Cold water baths filled with ice have followed vigorous training sessions in the build-up to tonight’s fight – an experience that Simmons admits has been particularly gruelling.

He said: “It’s been really horrible. I’ve done them before in Sheffield but these ones have been extra cold.”