The football European Championships are set to kick off in Germany on Friday night with a match that pits the hosts against Scotland and Manchester’s Macaulay McGowan is happy to represent the Scots when he challenges German Abass Baraou for the EBU junior middleweight champion in Bolton.

“Friday night is the start of the Euros and here in Bolton, we have our own European showdown between Germany and Scotland in the ring,” promoter Kalle Sauerland said.

“Abass Baraou is looking to cement his spot to fight for a win title but McGowan is a tough man with a great Rocky-type story. A labourer by day, European title challenger by night, who is going to put it on Abass and go nose to nose with him.”

The 20-4-2 (5 KOs) McGowan is more concerned about missing a concert taking place at Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, than any actual football, however.

“I am going to make the most of this opportunity – I am missing a Taylor Swift concert for this!” joked the 29-year-old McGowan. 

“This will be a highly technical fight, but with a bit of war mixed in too. To win the European title would make all of the ups and downs in my career worth it.” 

Those ups and downs have indeed been plentiful for McGowan, both inside the ring and out. Though he’s won three on the bounce since losing a split 10-round verdict to Tyler Denny last May, he’s been defeated each time he’s stepped beyond eight-round level. Yet he insists that this time, with a rare full training camp behind him, he’s ready to upset the odds.

“They don’t give European titles away so I know that Abass is a good fighter but there are things I will exploit and I can tell you that this fight is not going the distance,” he said.

In Baraou he meets an in-form champion who is favourite for good reason. The 15-1 (9 KOs) fighter won the title in March when he outpointed Sam Eggington. A pressure fighter with power in both hands, the 29-year-old is ready to fulfil the potential he’s long had.

He defeated both Ali Funeka and John McDonnell within 18 months of turning professional in April 2018 before a split loss to Jack Culcay, in August 2020, thwarted his match towards a world title shot. But now he’s back on track.

“I worked hard to become European champion but I will have to work harder to keep the belt,” Baraou said. “I want to keep it and show my levels.  I am putting pressure on myself to put on a great performance.  This is a great opportunity for McGowan but I have other plans.  I want to prove to the world how good I am and show my levels.  You are going to see a great performance.”

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