Craig Salmon’s Soapbox: Make-or-break moment is looming for Preston boxer Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald (left) in action against Craig Morris during their super-welterweight contest at the Birmingham Arena
Scott Fitzgerald (left) in action against Craig Morris during their super-welterweight contest at the Birmingham Arena

Will Scott Fitzgerald’s greatly-anticipated clash against domestic rival Anthony Fowler propel him to greater heights or consign him to the list of also-rans. Craig Salmon takes a closer look

If the Twitter spat between Preston boxer Scott Fitzgerald and his upcoming opponent Anthony Fowler is anything to go by then we are all in for a real treat later this year.

The pair – rising stars of the light-middleweight/super welterweight division on the domestic scene – are set to meet at the Liverpool Arena in a couple of months’ time in what is set to be a British Title eliminator.

Former GB team-mates – both won gold within minutes of each other at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – things were what you could call cordial when a potential match-up between the pair was first mooted. Indeed following Fitzgerald’s final round victory over Craig Morris in his last outing, in Birmingham last September, the rivals met outside of the ring with Fowler insisting that his former amateur sparring partner was a friend.

The Liverpudlian – a cousin of footballing great Robbie – was then quoted late last year as saying: “I like Scott, but this is business and I will smash him.”

That slightly incendiary remark coupled with a few interviews Fitzgerald has done since has led to, shall we say, a few frank exchanges between the pair on social media.

Whether the Twitter row is genuine or just ‘one for the cameras’ with a fight to sell, there is no doubt going to be a few sparks flying when the first bell rings on March 30.

I imagine there can be no friends in the fight game, especially when you have two hungry, young boxers like Fitzgerald and Fowler, who are both aiming for the very top, going head to head.

For Fitzgerald, this year could very well be a defining moment in his career.

After a stellar amateur career, which also saw him claim the National ABA title, the former Larches and Savick ABC star has reached the stage where it is time to make a significant move as a pro.

Fitzgerald, himself, admits that 2019 is kind of make or break for him.

“This year is going to be massive for me,” he said.

“It’s going to show whether I am going to make it or maybe not go as far as I think I will.

“I am training harder than ever and I just want to go and win that fight against Fowler, then go and win the British and European title and keep winning and building the 
momentum.”

Unbeaten in 11 professional fights against a host of tough journeymen, the 27-year-old has shown hints of his devastating punching power, but has also not had things all his own way.

His last performance against Morris – when he was reportedly down on the judges’ scorecards before finding a magic moment in the final round – has been leapt upon by Fowler and his supporters.

Fitzgerald, who broke his finger in delivering the knockout blow in his last bout, has an opportunity to make a statement ahead of the Fowler bout when he appears at the London Arena on February 2.

Up against an opponent yet to be confirmed, the Preston man is on the undercard of Ted Cheeseman’s European title bout against Sergio Garcia.

As the current British title holder, Cheeseman is a potential opponent of Fitzgerald down the line.