McAllister eyes historic Euro belt as he steps up to ‘Premier League’

LEE McAllister plans to scale uncharted heights for a Scottish boxer in the light-welterweight division when he challenges Denis Shafikov of Russia for the European title in front of a sell-out 2,500 crowd at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre tonight.

The unbeaten champion hails from the city of Miass, located beside the Urals. It is an appropriate metaphor for the task facing McAllister who has certainly has a mountain to climb in front of his adoring home town fans and a live Sky Sports audience.

No Scot has ever held the European light-welterweight belt since its inception back in 1964, the country’s only previous bid falling short two years ago when Motherwell’s Barry Morrison was stopped in seven rounds by Paul McCloskey in Belfast.

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Like Morrison, McAllister is managed by Tommy Gilmour and the Glasgow promoter holds no illusions over how significant an achievement victory would be for the 29-year-old ‘Aberdeen Assassin’ this evening. “Lee is stepping up to the Premier League in this fight,” said Gilmour. “Shafikov is a highly rated boxer who is close to world title contention and his record speaks for itself. Lee is the Commonwealth champion and has plenty of experience at title level but this would take his career to another level. It took a lot of hard work and negotiations to persuade 26-year-old Shafikov to come to Scotland and defend his title and I’m thrilled that the Aberdeen public have responded so enthusiastically.

“Home advantage can always give a boxer an edge and Lee will need to make the most of every advantage possible if he is going to win this fight. Confidence is never a problem for Lee, he has tremendous self-belief. If he can combine that with the right tactics and discipline he will need against Shafikov, then it could be a very special night.”

Shafikov, who at 5ft 5ins tall is four inches shorter than McAllister, goes by the nickname of ‘Ghengis Khan’ and has a marauding style which has earned him 16 stoppages in his 27 victories. McAllister has lost just twice in 36 professional contests, most recently when he stepped up in class to challenge John Murray for the British lightweight belt three years ago and was stopped in eight rounds.

Inverness heavyweight prospect Gary Cornish will hope to catch the eye on tonight’s undercard when he faces Igoris Borucha of Lithuania over four rounds. The 24-year-old has won all five of his contests so far since turning professional last year.