Monthly Archives: July 2008
16 July 2008 – by Neil Sinclair
In his new monthly column, Neil Sinclair talks about life as a professional boxer and the latest goings on in the Irish fight scene.
First things first: I expect to be fighting in September. I was speaking to Brian Peters last week and he is keen to get me on then where that will be I dont know yet but Id love for it to be in Belfast.
At the minute, Im back in the gym, so Im just ticking away at the moment. Id step it up to full training six to eight weeks before any fight, including good sparring.
Obviously after my last fight in Italy for EU title Im feeling good because even though it was a loss it felt like a victory in many ways.
I was maybe lacking a bit of power in that fight but I think starting meat again will help with that. Id been off it for a couple of years but now I think my body needs it; I was craving it. With all the training you need the protein.
Im also on the Kerry Kayes supplements as well. Im getting as much protein in to me as I can and I think I was missing that in terms of strength.
It shouldnt have a bearing on my weight either as I will be taking on less carbohydrates and, pound for pound, there is less calories in protein so Ill stay the same weight, maybe even gain some muscle at the expense of body fat, which is good.
Ive been lucky in John Breens gym in relation to sparring. I always had Eamonn Magee and now I have Stephen Haughian and Paul McCloskey so it has been great from the moment I went there.
There is a lot of talk at the minute that John Duddy is going to get a shot at IBF light-middleweight champion Verno Phillips.
I think John has a great chance if that fight goes ahead. Phillips has been about for a long time and hopefully Duddy can secure the opportunity.
The difficulty is that he is going down in weight so he has to be careful. He has to be strong at that weight if he is to win. If he is, I would be confident of his chances especially with home advantage.
I fought at the Odyssey against Bradley Pryce a few years ago and it would be an incredible venue for a World Title fight.
Posted July 17th, 2008 in News
16 July 2008 – by Mark Doyle
It seems that reports of Wayne McCulloughs retirement were greatly exaggerated.
On June 20, in the exotic surroundings of the Caymans Island, McCullough quit on his stool after six rounds of his bout with Juan Ruiz for the vacant NABF featherweight title.
For a fighter known for tireless work-rate and relentless pressure, it felt like the end. After three years of inactivity following his second defeat by Oscar Larios, suspected that he could no longer compete at the highest level.
He told the crowd as much afterwards informing the surprisingly large British and Irish contingent in attendance testament to his enduring popularity as a fighter and a man that they had probably just watched him in action for the last time.
Unsurprisingly, as soon as McCullough’s words hit the internet, the plaudits and the tributes came flooding in.
A former WBC bantamweight champion who had gone toe-to-toe with some of the finest fighters of his generation, McCullough had earned the respect of thousands of fight fans for his exploits in the ring.
Perhaps even more admirably, he earned the respect of many more for the way in which he conducted himself out of it. McCullough is, and always has been, a warm, courteous and good-humoured character.
However, amidst all the ensuing sentimentality and nostalgia (McCullough jokingly admits he felt as if some journalists wrote as if he was dead!), the fact that he had not actually confirmed his retirement was conveniently overlooked.
As a result, he is more than a little keen to set the record straight.
That fight in the Cayman Islands was the first time that anyones ever handed me a mic after a fight, he explains in an exclusive interview with irish-boxing.com.
It was real heat of the moment stuff. I told the crowd: Im sorry about tonight but I didnt feel good. I was winning the fight but things werent clicking. The three years off had probably hurt me. This could be my last fight.
I didnt stand there and say, Im 100 percent retired. But the next day in the media they were saying, McCulloughs retired and it went from there.
And I just thought, I have to have time to take to my wife and my daughter and reevaluate things and then see what happens. But I havent made that decision yet. No matter what I do, I need to have time to think things through.
Ive always said that when I say Im retired, I want to stay retired. I dont want to be someone who comes back out of retirement. Thats why I want to make sure first.”
Many are hoping that McCullough does, indeed, follow through on his initial gut feeling that it is time to retire. As with any fighter who has been involved in so many brutal wars, there are fears that by continuing he could risk doing himself permanent damage.
However, McCullough is almost a special case given that he has gone into the trenches with men of the calibre of Erik Morales, Naseem Hamed, Scott Harrison and Larios.
But while he can understand the concern many people have for his welfare, and also appreciate it, he does not want to be pushed into retirement. Indeed, he is conscious of the fact that some people want the decision taken out of his hands.
Most of the reports about my retirement were fine – nobody said anything nasty – but one reporter wrote that my wife should know when its time for me to quit, he explains.
But I make my own decisions and I talk to my wife and my daughter before I make them. Im not just going to go on and just keep fighting and end up punch drunk. So I dont like it when people start bringing my wife and my daughter into it.
While his wife and daughter are the most significant factors in McCullough’s thinking, the Northern Irishman also intends to listen to the fans.
He was devastated by the collapse of last years proposed bout with Kiko Martinez at Belfast it would have been his first fight on home soil in five years and the temptation to bow out with a fight or perhaps even two fights in Ireland remains as strong as ever.
Certainly, he feels that after nearly a decade of frustration outside of the ring he still has something left to offer.
After my first loss, to Daniel Zaragoza in 1997, I had 15 months out of the ring, and then I had the brain scan issue with the British Boxing Board of Control for almost three years,” he points out.
“And then I had a long lay-off between Hamed and Morales. And then after Harrison I had another long absence. Then, I had three years after Larios.
“So, Ive been a pro for 15 years but if you take those breaks into account Ive had about seven years of inactivity.
He continues, revisiting the Ruiz defeat: And you cant take three years off and just jump in there and think youre a world-beater.
“You need one or two fights to get your timing back, and then take a bigger fight.
“But even if I do decide to retire, Ive always said that Id like to have two more fights, in Belfast and Dublin, and not for the money but for the fans.
“I’d like to go back and say, thanks for your support. Im not going to fight a world-beater but I would like to get back to Ireland and show the fans how grateful I am for backing me all these years.
“Even in that fight in the Cayman Islands I was taken aback by the fans who came out to support me.
I havent fought in Belfast in six years and Dublin since 1996 – its ridiculous.
“That last fight in Dublin would have been my second defence of my WBC title so its been way too long.
“But I never thought that 12 years later Id still be talking about fighting; they cant get rid of me!
15 July 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Oisin Fagan has revealed that he will first challenge for the NABA title before colliding with Irish lightweight and light-welterweight champion Andrew Murray later in the year.
Fagan was less than impressed with his own performance in Saturday night’s points win over Konstantin Sakara in a 6-rounder on the undercard of Bernard Dunne’s clash with Damian David Marchiano in Dublin, a bill which also featured Murray.
However, the Dubliner, who is now based in Oklahoma City, believes it will not be long before he has a few belts around his waist.
“My timing wasn’t great tonight. I missed with a lot of shots,” he lamented.
“I wasn’t able to spar after sustaining a cut eye a couple of weeks ago and thus, the reason for my bad timing.
“I also caught myself chasing him (Sakara) around the ring, instead of cutting the ring off, which was a little amateurish on my behalf.
“However, I was very anxious to keep on him and not let him off the hook and sometimes I get caught up in the intensity of the fight rather than doing things easy.
“Having said that, a win is a win and that puts me in a commanding position now. I think I will take on Verquan Kimbrough for the NABA title in West Virginia on August 29, which is supposed to be aired as a Main Event on ESPN 2 in the US.
“After that, it looks like Andy Murray and myself, will get it on for the Irish lightweight title.
“Andy looked great tonight against a tough Peter McDonagh, so I guess that’s the natural fight at domestic level for me now.
“Then, whether I win that or not will determine if I can perhaps look to fight for a European title somewhere down the line.”
15 July 2008 – by Cormac Campbell
It has been extolled at length on these pages that Irish boxing is suffering from the absence of a genuine title above the national title and below the European crown.
Granted there are Intercontinental baubles, the British and Commonwealth crowns for boxers from Northern Ireland and the EU title. Moreover, some of our best have gone to the US to further their careers, but the reality is that boxing is now a strong all-island industry with more and more fighters being offered the opportunity to ply their trade at home rather than having to go abroad.
But for this arrangement to remain sustainable, Irish boxers need to be able to earn well and in professional boxing that means having a recognisable belt around their waist.
There is no doubting that due to the likes of Andy Lee, Matthew Macklin and Jamie Moore fighting for it, the Irish crown has grown in significance but unless boxers of this quality fight each other it will remain merely a stepping stone on the path to a European shot.
At present the chances of this happening are somewhere between slim and none. Thus, as attractive as clashes between the likes of John Duddy and Jamie Moore or Matthew Macklin and Andy Lee are, they would need considerable international TV financing to become a reality something the Irish title is unlikely to attract.
But what of the BBBCs Celtic Title?
Given its name, one could be forgiven for assuming that all Irish, Scottish and Welsh boxers should be allowed to fight for it but speaking exclusively to irish-boxing.com on the matter, BBBBC General Secretary Simon Block said that it is not that simple.
A boxer who is a citizen or who was born in the Republic of Ireland is eligible to apply for a British Boxing Board of Control license, he said over the phone.
And then, subject to where he lives – he would have to be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland – that would determine in which area the boxer was registered.
In relation to the Celtic Titles there is a qualification that the boxer is born or living for a number of years in one of the Celtic countries Ireland, Scotland or Wales. But a boxer who holds only a BUI license is not eligible to box for any of the BBBC titles.
Some boxers have both licenses I want to make it clear there is nothing sinister in that. We co-operate greatly with the BUI. In fact there was a British title fight, which took place in Dublin, which was exceptional (Tony Oakey v Brian Magee 2007). But anyone who takes part in one of the titles that are regulated by the British Boxing Board of Control must be a British Boxing Board of Control license holder.
The qualification for a Celtic Championship is to either be born in that area or to be resident for not less than four years. That specifically covers Northern Ireland because the jurisdiction of the Board doesnt cover the Republic of Ireland as a separate Country with its own boxing organisation,
So any boxer from the Republic who moves to any one of the three countries would qualify for the Celtic title but in theory if they moved to Manchester they could qualify for the English title.
Perhaps owing to Ireland and Britains linked history the BBBCs regulations in relation to boxers from the Republic and their eligibility is a little more sympathetic than for boxers from other nations.
We have separate regulations regarding to Republic of Ireland boxers and their qualification as well. For example a boxer who was born in the Republic of Ireland but who becomes a British citizen the day after he can fight for a British title, Barry McGuigan would be an example. But for every other country, for example France, in the world there is also a five-year residency period as well.
So as it stands, a boxer from the Republic would either need to obtain a British passport or simply move up North. This would appear to be a missed opportunity for all involved. After all, there are only three reigning Celtic champions (super-middleweight Stevie McGuire, light-welter Stuart Phillips and lightweight Gary Buckland). Surely opening up the party would mean more quality title matches, more revenue and more valuable experience and exposure for up and coming boxers?
But whilst the BBBC and the BUI may well work together from time to time – notably on the Magee v Oakey fight this does not mean the BUI would be overly pleased if the BBBC decided to usurp them on their own turf.
Barring Northern Ireland, which falls into both organisations jurisdictions, the two organisations are distinct bodies understandably representing their own interests. That one should step on the others toes would most likely cause some level of disquiet perhaps not on the scale of the FAI and IFAs disagreement over the Darron Gibson affair but maybe enough to ensure that the lawyers are called in.
As it stands one must hold a BBBC licence to fight for the Celtic title but they need not even have a trace of ginger in their blood. Thus, it is not a title defined by being part of a Celtic bloodline if it were no doubt boxers from parts of France, Spain and South America would surely claim eligibility therefore at present it is little more than a clumsily titled championship with no real appeal to fighters or fans.
So, in order to move forward what is necessary is for the BUI and the BBBC to sit down together to hammer out a deal on the joint ownership of the championship. To do this they should look to other sports such as rugby union and more recently soccer where a format for a Celtic Nations championship has been agreed upon.
Should they fail to do this the reasonable aspiration of boxers from the Republic to acquire greater career options would appear to be something of a dead duck.
Movement on this issue is something that is undoubtedly in the interests of boxers from Ireland, Scotland and Wales whether it is in the interests of the administrators is unclear. Although their lack of action on the issue would appear to provide some evidence to the contrary.
A shame – especially when some of the fighters who could be eligible for an expanded title are considered.
Potential match-ups could include bouts between:
Super-middleweight - Brian Magee, Nathan Cleverly
Middleweight - Fights involving Gary Lockett, Matthew Macklin, Andy Lee, Jason McKay
Light-middleweight - Fights involving John Duddy, Jamie Moore, Bradley Pryce, James Moore, Henry Coyle
Welterweight - Fights involving Kevin McIntyre, Kevin Anderson, Neil Sinclair, Stephen Haughian, Tony Doherty, Craig Dickson
Light-welterweight - Fights involving Gavin Rees, Paul McCloskey. Barry Morrison, Martin Watson
Lightweight - Fights involving Graham Earl, Willie LImond, Michael Gomez, Andrew Murray, Oisin Fagan, Lee McAllister, Craig Doherty
Super featherweight - Alex Arthur, Ricky Burns, Eddie Hyland, Kevin OHara, Jamie Arthur
Featherweight - John Simpson, Martin Lindsay, Patrick Hyland
Super-bantamweight - Bernard Dunne, Paul Hyland
15 July 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Scott Belshaw has been handed a chance to avenge his first-ever defeat as a professional after being paired with Daniel Peret on the undercard of Danny Williams British heavyweight title defence against John McDermott in Dagenham on Friday night.
The 23-year-old from Belfast was outpointed by Peret in March but, after relocating to Chislehurst and changing his entire training team, will be determined to settle the score.
Belshaw is now being trained by Brian Lawrence, who promoter Frank Maloney believes is capable of turning the Northern Irishman into a major force in the heavyweight division.
“People forget what Brian Lawrence has done but he’s worked with former European super middleweight champion James Cook MBE, former WBO heavyweight champion Henry Akinwande, current British bantamweight champ and man of the moment Ian Napa, not to mention the revitalised Anthony Small,” he enthused.
“Lawrence is probably one of the best trainers to emerge in Britain over the last few years and has never been given the credit he deserves but I’ll make sure that he does if he can turn Belshaw into a champion.”
12 July 2008 – by Cormac Campbell
Irish super-bantamweight star Bernard Dunne was back to his best as he outclassed the game Damian Machiano at a raucous National Stadium on Saturday night.
The Dubliner, 26-1 (14KO), still reeling from a first round KO defeat at the hands of Kiko Martinez last August, could be seen rediscovering his swagger over ten entertaining rounds which topped an entertaining Brian Peters Promotions card at the South Circular Road sweatpit.
Marchiano, 15-5-1 (5KO) was never expected to cause the former EBU titleholder major difficulties but the word that the hometown favourite had gone in to the fight with a badly damaged right hand made the way Dunne went about business rather impressive. In fact, rumours around ringside rightly or wrongly intimated that in the week before the fight the entire card hung in the balance.
Without the full use of his right hand it is hardly surprising that Dunne never chased a stoppage despite the Argentineans regular attempts to goad him into over commitment.
There were signs of a new maturity in Dunnes work less playing to the adoring crowd and a high work rate.
Securing a rematch with Martinez or a crack at EBU champion Rendall Munroe now appears to be the objective for the 28-year-old.
On the undercard Jim Rock captured the Irish light-heavyweight title to add to his light-middle, middle and super-middle with an impressive seventh round stoppage of Jonjo Finnegan. The 36-year-old Dubliner, 29-4 (11KO) was in control throughout the contest, scoring freely with overhand rights and softening his opponent to the body.
The most impressive performance however was that of Andrew Murray. The young Cavan stylist put in a punch perfect display on perennial spoiler Peter McDonagh to lift the Irish lightweight crown. The natural fight for Murray now is Oisin Fagan who was also victorious on the card with a points victory over Konstantin Sakara. One fly in the ointment however is the news that Fagan who was trained by John Breen for Saturdays contest has signed for a rematch against Verquan Kimbrough in August.
Posted July 15th, 2008 in News
01 July 2008 – by Cormac Campbell
Irish light-welterweight star James Moore will be back in action on August 6 with a eight round clash against Lloyd Joseph at BB Kings in Manhattan.
30-year-old Wicklowman Moore, 15-1 (10KO), had looked to be cruising in to world class before an upset points defeat at the hands of Gabriel Rosado, 10-2 (6KO) in June.
35-year-old Lloyd, 12-6-3 (5KO), has mixed in decent company the most notable current IBF light middleweight champion and prospective John Duddy opponent Verno Phillips who KOd the Vigin Islander in five rounds in 2002.
Speaking to Irish-boxing.com Moore said he was eager to get back to winning ways but also has one eye on a homecoming clash at the National Stadium.
Im looking forward to getting back in there, he said.
I would like to fight at home but the opportunity hasn’t came up!
Should such an opportunity present itself, there is one man Moore would love to face.
I would love to fight Henry Coyle in the stadium and it would sell out for sure.
This would reignite the blazing rivalry the two enjoyed as amateurs, which culminated with The Western Warrior defeating Moore in the finals of the 2003 Irish Senior Championships.
Posted July 15th, 2008 in News
10 July 2008 – by Mark Doyle
No more entries for our latest fantastic competition, please, as we have drawn our winner – and he is Colin McKay of 66 Glenkeen, Poleglass, Belfast.
Colin correctly informed us that Bernard Dunne won the European title with a unanimous points win over Esham Pickering and his reward for so doing is a pair of tickets, generously provided by Brian Peters Promotions, for Saturday night’s fantastic show at the National Stadium in Dublin.
Hard luck to all of those who missed out but thanks so much for your interest and support. Also, tickets for the Dunne-headlined show may still be available on ticketmaster.ie and the usual outlets.
And remember: irish-boxing.com will no longer be updated merely on a monthly basis. We will now be providing you with news, features and competitions on a daily basis so keep checking the site for more great writing, fantastic offers and brilliant prizes.
Posted July 11th, 2008 in News
10 July 2008 – by John Joe Joyce with Rob Mulhern
I knew this week was going to be hard and I knew there were sessions where I couldve gone with the flow, but I really pushed myself in every session.
We were training this week in Dublin. Training in the High-Performance Unit beside the National Stadium and then staying there too.
After each session I felt like I wanted more work and I was looking for more to do. Thats why I think it was a good thing that I was knocked out early at the EU Championship. Losing has given me that training edge to work harder.
I was sparring with Kenny Egan our captain, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Kennys a lot heavier than me, hes 81kgs and Im 64kgs, but it was good for me to get used to the power of a heavier fighter. For Kenny its good for him too because Id be a lot faster – being lighter.
Hed say to me youre a lot quicker and Id say well you hit a lot harder and thats the way wed work it. Kennys a good lad to have as captain. Hes very experienced and is the oldest guy on the team. He has been one of the top amateurs in Europe for the last six or seven years. And with only the five of us only training up in Dublin now, it feels like we are really going to the Olympics.
Usually when we go to Dublin thered be 11 of us, but now its just the five and the whole Olympic buzz really started. I was thinking back to Andy Lee going out the last time and how tough it must have been for him to go out on his own.
The five of us (Paddy Barnes 48kgs, John Joe Nevin 54kgs, Darren Sutherland 75kgs, Kenny Egan 81kgs and me) are great mates anyway and well probably start to rely on each other more as Beijing gets closer.
We were saying during the week how happy we are that so many of us qualified for that reason.
The big thing that happened this week was I got my date for the first day of competition out in Beijing. Ill be fighting on August 10 and the boxing starts properly the day before that. I wasnt nervous at all when I got told the date.
I was just happy I wasnt boxing on the very first day of competition.
The thing is I dont like boxing on the early days of a competition. I always find that as an event goes on I get stronger and better, so at least on the first day of boxing I can go down and watch, and get a feel for it before I start the next day.
With the boxing on so early too, Im wondering about things like the opening ceremony being too close to my start date. The ceremony starts on the eighth, then theres a days break, and then Im boxing.
I know what a great thing the opening night is, and what an honour it all is, but with it being so close I dont know if Ill be walking in it.
I know it would mean Id be on my feet for a long time that day. Thered be a lot of standing around and that wouldnt be the best preparation so close to my fight. At the end of the day, Im over there to try and do the business, not to be walking around the place.
Before then though theres lots of training to be done. Were in France now this week with the German, French and English teams and its funny now because were at the stage where we all know of each other sure were staying in the same hotel out here and the coaches are really starting to concentrate on all the detail.
Our diet is being carefully watched and were getting things like regular hydration tests. Thats when they test our urine and use the results to make sure were getting back the liquids and vitamins that were losing when we train.
Well be off to Russia then in a few weeks and I know Dom (ORourke) has an event lined up in Athy before I leave, but it probably wont be anything more than an exhibition. I dont want to take the chance of getting cut or injured before I go out to Beijing.
But theres a big week of sparring to get through here first.
Posted July 11th, 2008 in News
09 July 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Promoter Frank Maloney has ruled out the possibility of European super-bantamweight champion Rendall Munroe offering Bernard Dunne a title shot.
Irishman Dunne lost possession of the strap after being stopped by Spains Kiko Martinez in August of last year.
However, Martinez was beaten in his first defence, dropping a majority points decision to Munroe in April.
Dunne is now desperate to reclaim what he believes is rightfully his but has little or no chance of getting to Munroe, according to Maloney.
“We are not prepared to box Dunne because of our busy schedule,” he told the Irish Independent on Tuesday.
“There is talk of a return fight in the autumn with Kiko Martinez, who lost his title to Rendall four months ago.
In any event, we are under contract to Sky Sports and Dunne is with RTE so there is a clash of interests there.”
Unsurprisingly, Dunne is less than pleased with Maloneys stance, and feels that he is being unfairly pushed out of the title picture.
“This is effectively a snub as I’ve been aware for a while that Munroe is not keen to give me a shot at his title, he fumed.
My team will just have to try and force their hand and wait for the European Boxing Union to make me the mandatory challenger. I really want that title back. It belongs in Dublin, where I won it.”
Dunne, who made a winning return to the ring following the Martinez stoppage with a points win over Felix Machado in April, will be seeking to strengthen his claims for a European title shot when he takes on Damian Marchiano in Dublin this weekend.