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Boxing: This is an insult to the Irish boxing public... some people have no regard for Irish fans; MAGEE DREAM IN TATTERS AS FIGHT CALLED OFF ANGRY PAT SLAMS 'CALLOUS' WARREN.

Byline: Darren FULLERTON

BRIAN Magee's management team has slammed promoter Frank Warren for the late cancellation of tonight's planned world title bout with Joe Calzaghe at the King's Hall.

The Belfast fighter's manager Pat Magee said he was bitterly disappointed with the "callous" way the messy affair had been handled.

Targeting promoter Warren as the main source for his anger, Magee claimed the Belfast public had been treated like second class boxing fans on St Patrick's Day.

"This whole thing is an insult to the Irish boxing supporting public," he said. "It is obvious some people have no regard for Irish fans and it has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

"We are extremely disappointed with the way the whole thing has been handled. I haven't spoken to Frank Warren yet - only through intermediaries - and I have no plans to speak to him."

Brian Magee's world title dream lay bloodied and bruised after the WBO called time on tonight's eagerly anticipated Super-Middleweight fight with Calzaghe.

Magee was set to take centre stage in front of a sell-out 5,900 crowd - but his aspirations were slayed when the WBO refused to sanction the fight because it was within 60 days of Calzaghe's mandatory defence against Mario Veit on May 7.

Magee, 29, said he was "stunned and devastated" that his chance of the big time had been ripped from the grasp.

"I'm disappointed for myself, but also for the many fans who bought tickets," he said.

"I have trained like a champion, so to have it taken away from me at this late stage is devastating."

Magee was offered a late replacement bout with Dublin's Jim Rock, but Pat Magee dismissed the proposal after last minute talks yesterday afternoon.

"We were offered a derisory purse and basically told to take it or leave it," he said. "We won't be taking it and Brian won't be fighting at the King's Hall on Friday night.

"Our aim now is compensation. We will be taking the matter to the (British Boxing) Board of Control and asking them for protection in the matter.

"We also hope Sports Network honour their commitment to give fans their money back."

Magee and his advisors claim they were only informed of the cancellation at 9am yesterday morning - after the decision had been reported on Sky Sports.

"We didn't even hear first hand," said Pat Magee. "We were one half of the top-of-the-bill fight with Calzaghe and yet the first we knew about the cancellation was when someone rang to tell us that Sky Sports were reporting the fight was off.

"We then got a call from Sports Network to confirm that the bout was cancelled. If anyone had any compassion this simply wouldn't have happened this way.

"We have been left in the dark. I just don't know why this problem with the 60 day rule wasn't flagged up weeks ago when the contracts for the German fight were signed.

"If there was a chance of the fight being cancelled, at least we could have made an alternative and put a brake on ticket sales."

Joe Calzaghe's father and trainer Enzo said he was "gutted" for the thousands of Irish boxing fans who had sold out the King's Hall venue.

"We came over to Belfast on Wednesday and it is shocking that the fight has evaporated into thin air," he said.

"The Germans have been a pain in the ass, and as far as I can see politics have ruined the whole thing. It's a joke.

"We had three choices before this fight - we could have gone to Denmark, Newcastle or Cardiff, but we chose to come to Belfast because of the people. We're gutted for Joe, but we're also gutted for the fans."

A frustrated Calzaghe, who was due to make the 16th defence of his crown, insists he will make German Veit pay when they meet in Hamburg on May 7.

"After messing me about like this I will go over there and destroy him," he said.

Show promoter Warren claims Veit's camp were happy for tonight's Magee fight to proceed and that it was German TV - who have the rights to the May 7 contest - who objected to the WBO.

"I am bitterly disappointed for Joe, Brian Magee and the public who were looking forward to this fight," said Warren.

CAPTION(S):

NO-JOE: Calzaghe leaves the Europa Hotel on his way home yesterday; LOSER: Brian Magee
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2005
Words:742
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