Willie Casey - on the fast track to becoming a world champion

LIMERICK boxer Willie Casey could be on the fast track to a world title shot.

LIMERICK boxer Willie Casey could be on the fast track to a world title shot.

The newly-crowned EBU European super bantamweight champion could be on the verge of securing a WBA interim super bantamweight title fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Already the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet has been pin-pointed as a potential venue with the weekend of March 18-20 as a possible date.

But before all that Casey is back between the ropes this Friday in the National Basketball Stadium in Tallaght.

But his clash with Manuel 'Zorro' Sequera won't be a title defence.

The Venezuelan has lost 18 of his 30 fights to-date.

Casey's fight will appear on the undercard of Anthony Fitzgerald's WBF inter-continental title fight with others like Dean Byrne, Gavin Prunty, Christina McMahon, JJ McDonagh, Patrick Hyland, Paddy McDonagh and Noel O'Brien also on the schedule.

It was thought that the 28-year-old Southill man would enjoy his recent success over the Christmas period and then headline an event in Cork's Neptune Stadium on Saturday, January 22 as a warm-up to his title defence against former champion Kiko Martinez in March.

But early last week Casey was confirmed for the Tallaght event which will be his seventh night of professional boxing in 2010.

Capacity for Casey's 12th pro fight will be restricted to 1,000 and the fight will not be shown live on television. Tickets available from www.ticketgroup.ie or call 0818 33 33 44 or 087 280 4380.

If Casey extends his unbeaten record next weekend all talk will then turn to the potential world title fight.

"We can confirm that the WBA have accepted Willie Casey as challenger for the WBA title. We are at an advanced stage with Rigondeaux's team, but it's just talks," confirmed Daniel Halpin of DolPhil Promotions, who look after the interest's of the Limerick man.

"Right now we have our eyes on defending against Kiko (Martinez), but if agreements are made and the money is right for Willie we will vacate the European belt and go for the world title, no doubt about it," said Halpin.

The Cuban-born Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic champ, claimed the interim WBA belt on a split decision over Ricardo Cordoba - who was beaten for the WBA title by Bernard Dunne last year - in Texas on October 13 in only his seventh pro fight.

Rigondeaux defected from Cuba in 2009 and is promoted by Bob Arum and Top Rank. The 30-year-old is managed by Cork's Gary Hyde.

"The negotiations are all done, we are just waiting on getting the nod from TV on this side of the Atlantic (Ireland). We have ESPN and ESPN are taking it to the States and 30 other countries. We are waiting on RTE or Sky, but Sky are the more likely and at the moment I would imagine Sky," said Hyde of the potential world title fight between Casey and Rigondeaux.

"This is a great opportunity for me to showcase my fighters at home to my friends in Cork, like I have already done in the US, and, of course, it is a great opportunity for Casey as well who is a formidable opponent."

Indeed the negotiations are at such an advanced stage that Rigondeaux could be ringside on Friday night to see Willie Casey box in Tallaght.

Hyde has already given thought to the undercard of the Millstreet event which would have a 7,000 capacity.

"The fact that Casey is such a strong character and he has had such tremendous year, he is strong enough to carry the show himself and we will have a fantastic undercard. There will be proper fights, we will be looking for 45-55 or 60-40 fights on the under card, not 95-5 walkovers - that is not going to happen," said Hyde.

If the Willie Casey-Rigondeaux world title fight does go ahead in Millstreet in March it will take place 16 years after Steve Collins famously claimed the WBO super-middleweight world title against Chris Eubank at the same venue.