Monthly Archives: April 2011
27 April 2011
Unbeaten Dublin Featherweight Patrick The Punisher Hyland heads to London this weekend as he bids to extend his perfect record to 22 and 0 when he takes on Daniel Kodjo Sassou on the undercard to the Darren Barker Domenico Spada European Middleweight title fight in the Olympia on Saturday night.
The 27-year-old Tallaght native says he will be looking to impress UK fight fans on his third appearance in London. “I had a couple of fights there at the start of my career but obviously I’ve improved a lot since then so I’m looking forward to putting on a good show there and show people what I’m about.”
Kodjo Sassou is coming off a run of fights with the UK’s brightest prospects having extended Ricky Hatton’s protege Scott Quigg the full 12 rounds and dropping a points decision to Olympian Joe Murray. However on his last visit to the UK the French based Togolese fighter scored a stoppage win over the highly touted and previously unbeaten Rhys Roberts but Hyland is determined that he won’t slip up on Saturday.
“I watched his fight with Joe Murray and he acquitted himself very well.” said Hyland. “He’s a tough, hard man and he has a reputation for pulling off upsets, obviously he’s just coming off that win over Roberts and his last big win before that was when he upset Arsen Martirosyan to win the IBF International title but I don’t think he will have met too many as strong as me so I’m confident that I can get the right result. Obviously I will be looking to impress but the main thing is to get your hand raised at the end of the fight and get another win under the belt.”
Hyland was hoping to enter 2011 as European Featherweight Champion but the current champion, Sofiane Takoucht turned down a lucrative offer to come to Ireland at the end of last year to defend his title against Hyland. However the Frenchman remains very much in Hyland’s sights.
“He turned down a very good offer to fight me last year and he hasn’t defended his title since so I’m not sure why he has been so inactive but given the chance I would be happy to relieve him of his belt. He’s a tall southpaw and he’s obviously a good fighter but I’ve knocked out every southpaw I’ve faced in the pro’s so I’d be confident of doing the same with him.”
First though “The Punisher” will have to deal with this weekend’s assignment and he’s confident of living up to his ring moniker. “I always liked the ring to it that ‘The Punisher’ had. I used to get the Punisher comics and watched the films. As a boxer you are always looking to punish your opponent for the mistakes they make in the ring so it seemed like a natural for me and the name has stuck so now it’s up to me to live up to it.”
Hyland recently joined the Twitter revolution (@Pajpunisher) and he’s hoping to gain a few more followers from the UK following his fight this weekend. “It’s good to get your name out there and using Twitter certainly helps with that. You can also keep up with all the other boxers out there and see what they are up to. It’s always comforting to know that you’re not the only one pounding the roads when it seems like everyone else is still sleeping!”
27 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Andy Lees May 18 keep busy fight has been upgraded to a NABF middleweight title clash with the potentially dangerous Alex Bunema.
Lee was expected to fight two unproblematic opponents before making his return to big time boxing on HBO in the autumn, but is determined to improve rather than pad out his record over the summer. The Emanuel Steward trained professional is keen to prove his worthy of a world title contender status by defeating a fighter who has experience at world level.
Considering the American based Congo native has shared the ring with the likes of Vince Philips, Jermain Taylor and indeed the man deemed the best middleweight on the planet Sergio Martinez, Lees warm up clash has just got very hot. The two time Irish amateur champion and former Olympian, who has his sights set on a July clash with fellow Irish middleweight Anthony Fitzgerald as well as an September bout with Brian Vera, would be favoured to defeat the 36 year old who usually campaigns at light middleweight.
However, there is no doubting the veteran puncher will provide Lee with one of his toughest tests to date. The Kronk fighter is delighted to have secured a bout with Bunema (31-7) as he is a ‘real fighter’ and wants to earn rather than be handed his fight wins.
Speaking about the fight which will take place in Rose Mount, Chicago Lee told the Mirror Sport, Bunema is a tough opponent but I’m a real fighter and do not want to ruin my reputation by fighting a push-over opponent. This fight is for the NABF title which is a subsidiary of the WBC.
Again Bunema is tough. He is very experienced and strong, he can punch with both hands. He’s fought some of the worlds top fighters and will be a good test for me. I’ve been working very hard in the gym, I took little time off after my last fight so I am in excellent shape. I’m ready to win and bring the NABF title back to Ireland.
27 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
One of Irish Boxings forgotten men Gary Spike OSullivan is planning to put in a performance that will live long in the memory of Irish fight fans when he makes a return to action this summer.
OSullivan has been missing in action for almost a year, but will end his fight sabbatical in the National Stadium on June 4 when he defends his Irish middleweight title against Tallaghts Robbie King Long. And the Pascal Collins trained fighter claims just like in last weeks National League Gaelic Football decider, Cork will overcome a Dublin challenge on the Paddy Hyland promoted show.
The Frank Warren promoted middleweight is chomping at the bit and can not wait to get back to work. Indeed Sullivan has stressed he has been a like a child on Christmas Eve since he heard the news, but added excitement rather than fear of old sparring partner Long has given him sleepless nights.
I am absolutely delighted to be getting back in the ring, OSullivan told www.irish-boxing.com.
It has been a very long wait for me and I cant wait to get back in the ring and show people what I can do. The plan is to win and keep the title. It will be like last Saturday with the Rebels beating the Dubs. I feel like a Lion inside a pigeon box or a kid on Christmas Eve I just want to be let loose. I have been frustrated over the year and I cant wait for the fight.
Long and OSullivan have traded blows before, but only in sparring. The Cork based middleweight claims the Golden Cobra pugilist only witnessed a restrained OSullivan then and should prepare to see the real Irish champion up close and personal come June.
The prospect, who is much fancied in some quarters, also dismissed ring rust as an issue and claims his recently stagnated career will take off under the guidance of Warren over the next 12 months.
Robbie and I get on. I sparred him as he prepared for Anto Fitzgerald, but he didnt see the real me then. He will see what I am really capable of when we fight. Sparring and fighting are different ball games altogether. Ring rust wont be a problem. I have kept training even when I wasnt fighting and I have always had good sparring, he added before discussing his contract with British promoter Frank Warren.
I am signed with Frank and he has big things planned for me. He had to sanction this fight and he is happy to see me get back in the ring. There are big things in the pipeline for me and I hope like my stable mate Stephen Ormond to be fighting on big cards in England soon.
26 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Dolphil Promotions are considering combining Willie Caseys comeback with Andy Lees homecoming and holding a big show in Limerick this summer.
One half of the promotion company Phil Sutcliffe revealed they have yet to respond to Lees request for them to get in touch re a potential showdown between the Limerick southpaw and Irish Champion of the Year, Anthony Fitzgerald. However, the Crumlin coach did reveal they are very interested in the all Irish middleweight clash and are trying to come up with a way to stage it in Ireland this summer.
One option is to put the bout on in Lees home town on a card that will also boast former European champion and world title challenger Big Bang Casey against a world ranked opponent.
We have talked about it amongst since we heard Andy wanted the fight, but no contact has been made yet. We are playing with the idea of putting Willie Casey against a top 20 fighter on a bill in Limerick with Andy Lee and Anthony Fitzgerald. That would be a great show and we are looking into venues. The last show was a great success in everything aspect other than financial so we have to make sure its viable, Sutcliffe told www.Irish-boxing.com.
Crumlin gym boss, Sutcliffe, who doubles up as Fitzgeralds coach as well as his manager, admits the EBA and Irish super middleweight champion has room for improvement, but is confident his charge would cause Lee trouble.
The former Olympian also defended his much maligned star claiming he deserves his tilt at contender Lee and believes the Dubliner could cause an upset if the fight is indeed made.
It is a fight we would take no problem. It is a great fight for Anto at this stage of his career. Anto at his best has a great chance of beating Andy. He got rid of Belghecham in quicker fashion than Andy and he is world ranked now.
Granted some people have been saying the stoppage was premature, but Belghecham didnt throw a shot back for the whole round. If he didnt want to be stopped he should have thrown a punch. Anto won every round up to that point and he was fit and ready to go the distance if he had too. There is room for Anto to improve, but there is room for every fighter to improve. Anto works hard and listens well and while Andy is dangerous especially because of the sting in his punch I think we could cause an upset. Anto has a style that wont suit Andys approach. He has the potential to cause him trouble.
26 April 2011
Darren Barker has told Matthew Macklin that their long awaited fight must happen this year if they get through their upcoming title fights.
Barker takes on Domenico Spada at Londons Olympia on Saturday night for the vacant European Middleweight title live on Sky Sports. Should the Londoner regain the title he was forced to surrender when he pulled out of a defence against Macklin through injury. The 28 year-old aims to pick up the strap for the second time against the tough Italian and will then become an unlikely fan of Macklin when he faces Felix Sturm in June for the WBA Super World Middleweight title with a win for the Brummie would bring the highly anticipated fight with Barker a step closer.
He’s just swerved me basically I want to fight him and prove that I’m the best, it’s just a shame that deep down he knows that I’ll beat him, said Barker. Everyone wants to watch us fight and in that respect I am annoyed at him for not taking me on. Why not boost the profile of the sport here by setting up these big British fights?
I can only imagine it’s because he knows I am going to beat him, because I would beat him and I’ve got his number all day long, I’m the best in Europe, the best in Britain. It was generating interest from the general public, even from people who knew nothing about boxing, but they were asking me about fighting Macklin and there was a buzz. If you look at his last performances they are poor and to see him ranked so highly gets to me, it really does.
The unbeaten 28 year-old insists though that his ambition to fight Macklin is nothing personal against the Irishman, but is simply borne out of annoyance that this British box-office clash has still to come to fruit.
There’s no hatred there, but it’s frustration from me from the bottom of my heart there’s no way Matthew Macklin can beat me and it’s annoying because I want to prove it to everyone – all the Macklin fans out there and the Barker haters for whatever reason, I want to show that I’m the number one and I’m not content with number two.
An interview between Barker and Steve Bunce can be seen online at www.MatchroomBoxing.com and is also available on the Prizefighter Podcast with Steve Bunce, which also features Kell Brook and Eddie Hearn and can be downloaded free on iTunes via the link atwww.Prizefighter.co.uk. Tickets for Darren Barker v Domenico Spada on April 30 are available now from Matchroom Sport priced 35 unreserved, 60 ringside, 80 inner ringside and 120 VIP to buy call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.
26 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Anthony Fitzgerald claims he has fought as well as talked himself into a potential bout with Irish middleweight contender Andy Lee and now hopes to earn himself a shot at the winner of the Matthew Macklin and Felix Strums WBA middleweight world title fight.
Lee responded to numerous Fitzgerald calls for an all Irish dust up and paved the way for a clash with the Irish champion of the Year by telling him to get in touch if he wants to get in on over the weekend. The news upset some boxing fans, who believe the reigning EBA champion hasnt earned the right to share a ring with a fighter on the verge of a world title fight.
But Fitzgerald says he has walked the walk as well as talked the talk and believes he has earned him the right to challenge Lee. The Pride points to his stoppage of former Lee foe Affif Belghecham and his newly acquired top 15 world ranking as proof his actions have proved louder than his words and that he is a worthy opponent for the former Olympian.
I was over the moon when I read the piece in the Mirror. They are looking for me to fight Andy now. All the talking must have helped. I dont think they would have been thinking about me before all the talk of me and Andy in the press. But I have also earned the right to fight Andy I have a world ranking and I stopped a fighter he couldnt stop, Fitzgerald told Mirror Sport.
I hope the fight can be made now. I know my promoters are working on it. There is nothing confirmed at the moment, but he wants a big homecoming. I hope its is in Dublin for my fans and I am sure he will want it in Limerick.
The Dolphil promoted fighter, who has improved with every performance over the last two years and yet has become Irish boxing’s panto villain, isnt just content with being on course for the biggest fight of his career he is confident of winning it.
Indeed the inner city Dub risked further ridicule by claiming he would like the all Irish fight to be a form of eliminator for the winner of the world renowned Macklin and Strum’s clash.
I am confident I can cause an upset. I know I am underdog, but I have beaten the odds before. I caused an upset against Belghecham. A lot of people thought I couldnt beat him and I stopped him. Andy and Darren Barker couldnt manage that. I would be confident of causing an upset again.
I wouldnt look beyond Andy Lee because he is a talented fighter, but if the fight does come off I would love if it was made an eliminator for the winner of Matthew Macklin and Felix Strum. That would be ideal. Me and Andy get on grand. There is no bad blood there and there never will be.
23 April 2011 – Oisin Fagan
Pending the selection-process and just before the IABA/Dublin City Council (DCC) partnership announced their successful candidates for the Community Boxing Development Officer positions, I wondered how the format would all take shape once it was set-up. Since, I’d already a background as a schoolteacher in severely disadvantaged areas of OKC, in the USA; I sat down with my old sets of physical education blueprints and began to merge those plans with the more contemporary boxing-coaching hypotheses, to see if I could attempt to enhance our great sport at a grassroots level, here in Dublin. Furthermore, since we were primarily hired as community development officers (first and foremost), planning was a focal point that couldn’t be overlooked. Simply put, we were hired to create a buzz and to galvanise our various communities, through the great sport of boxing.
When the team was eventually confirmed, I was delighted that the individuals in our group consisted of people with a lot of experience in boxing; from winning international honours, to academics with special interests in community-based and social issues. Now, was time to collectively brain-storm and formulate boxing in a way that it hadn’t been attempted before- all on agrandiose scale. After all, the FAI and the GAA had development officers for years. So, considering boxing is Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport, then why wouldn’t we be represented similarly throughout the country?
First-things-first though- the DCC chose the inner-city of Dublin to be the first-tested and since we were hired as a ‘pilot-scheme’, it was up to us to show all other jurisdictions that the ‘tool’ of boxing could prove successful, so eventually, these programmes would go nationwide. We decided that by working outside the ‘traditional’ boxing fraternity; whilst, continuing to portray our sport in a positive light, that this could only help enhance our cause. From a boxing-standpoint, we wanted to help promote a better image of our sport and establish ourselves in places that we have not traditionally penetrated. It is no secret that boxing is somewhat vilified throughout the wider population, so being totally aware of this, it was imperative for us to show an honest and more realistic image of the sport; which, in turn, would make it a lot more accessible and inclusive to a much wider demographic. Therefore, our jobs are not just about sending these ‘at-risk’ youth to boxing clubs, per-se; rather, to focus more, on opening their minds, widening their options, and pushing them towards good decisions, which promote better behavioural patterns and healthier lifestyles.
Initially, our team started to link-in with the summer projects and youth groups and we formulated Bronze, Silver and Gold StartBox programmes to facilitate them, which proved and continues proving very successful. In the Bronze section, we train groups in underprivileged Dublin City areas, whose participants have a very limited knowledge of boxing. Our remit includes children of mixed gender and race, ranging from the ages of 10-21. On the Bronze programme, the participants are raw and inexperienced, but our goals are simple- to get them interested in boxing at a rudimentary level. One of the main goals of the StartBox classes is to introduce as much ‘fun-filled’ exercise as possible, so that the participants enjoy the learning-process. Therefore, we use a lot of boxing-games, where the students can acquire the essence of what sport is all about. As well as making the sessions fun and exciting, we teach the very basics of boxing, including how to hold your hands, posture, stance, defence, basic movement and straight-punching.
In the Silver programmes, participants who graduate from the Bronze and show an interest, will be introduced to a more comprehensive and rigorous session, where we get them to start wearing headgear, gum-shields and protectors; whilst, participating in some light body-sparring. Finally, the Gold programmes start to mimic what a session might look like at the club-level, with an emphasis on regular sparring and cardiovascular fitness, at the helm. After that, we encourage the youth to visit their local boxing clubs with a view to joining up and becoming amateur boxers. The advantages of this are multifaceted. As, when the new boxer graces the doors of the gym, she already has the self-confidence to approach the coach, knowing that she has the basics down. This also saves coaches a lot of time at the fundamental-level, so they can quickly progress their new members onto more advanced drills and skill-sets.
In fact, on the 28th Jan, we graduated many of our youth club participants through the Gold programme and we staged our first ‘Showcase Final’ for them to spar against various groups from other DCC areas. The venue of course, was none other than the famous National Boxing Stadium, Dublin and this in itself did wonders for their confidence and it provided empirical evidence to the positive aura which our programme creates for the children and youth of these areas. The atmosphere at the Stadium that night was electric and it comprised of friendly-rivalries, where groups from Pearse Street, pitted their protgs up against Sherrif Street, then we had youth clubs from Fatima compete against Teresa’s Garden’s and some groups from Ballyfermot, Crumlin, Drimnagh, Ringsend, Coolock, Kilbarrack, Ballybough, Ballymun and Finglas all thrown in for good measure. The craic was great and everyone got behind their local boxers, in what proved to be a very successful night for all involved.
Now, just one-year into our jobs, our group has gelled together nicely and we’re extremely dedicated to the cause of amateur boxing in this country. Our team consists of Olympic champion, Michael Carruth; former Irish amateur youth champion, Paul Quinn; European medallist, Eric Donovan; top coach of many champions, Tommy Ahern and myself, a professional champion in Ireland and the USA .
Over the past 12-months; between us, we have worked with literally, thousands of individuals and scores of groups; including, youth clubs, summer projects, schools, sports clubs, festivals and the CDVEC’s, just to mention a few. In relation to the VEC’s; while they already have annual tournaments between themselves, we have been helping with training and facilitating in the corners of the participants for their semi-final tournaments. We continued this throughout the last few weeks and only recently helped out in the same capacity, with their successful VEC Fight Night Tournament, on the 28th March.
During the summer, we linked in with the organisers of Croke Park and particularly with the ‘Fighting Irish Museum’, which, was on show for a few months at the top-class venue. We divised a package, which was received well by both groups. It proposed that we’d take our youth groups, youth clubs and summer projects that we’d already worked with, on a trip to the ‘Fighting Irish Museum’. After they finished in the museum, we then took the groups to conduct a StartBox programme in the Croke Park dressing rooms. This proved very successful, as the children were fascinated to be allowed train in the same rooms that their GAA heroes used, week-in week-out and it seemed like a great incentive for them to learn even more about boxing through the medium of the museum.
Also, during the summer months, we frequented Summer Festivals in various Dublin City areas. Sometimes, we erected boxing rings and took children on the pads to do basic boxing drills inside the ring. At most of the festivals, it was not even necessary to erect a ring; as, we still had long queues of children and youth, seemingly desperate, to be taken on the pads for an introduction to boxing. Much of the time, it seemed that our pad-work was the most frequented stall of all, at these festivals. This was evident, as it seemed like it was where most of the youth hung out. With the interest that was created by this simple activity, we were able to point some of the more interested children in the direction of either a programme that we would be conducting in their areas, or give them details to boxing clubs close-by.
We are particularly excited about the fantastic collaboration we have made with the YouthReach programmes. Basically described, YouthReach, was set up to establish a second-chance at education for youth in Ireland and particularly geared towards the unemployed, early-school-leavers, aged 15-20. We were delighted to form a link with YouthReach, as it’s in our estimation that YouthReach comprises of, and targets similar groups to ourselves and the same individuals that we feel might benefit mostly from boxing programmes. Many of these students are considered ‘at-risk’ and since they are availing of a second-chance to education, this would imply that many onboard, may have had somewhat of a complicated past; which, also goes hand-in-hand with boxing culture. These students seem to have an abundance of energy, together with determination and desire, which of course are considered imperative traits for boxers. In fact, we just completed our first ‘YouthReach Showcase Final’, on the 30th March at our National Stadium, Dublin and it comprised over 20 sparring sessions for the members of YouthReach who already graduated through our Gold, Silver and Bronze programmes. It was a very exciting night, as all the participants were hyped-up and extremely eager to show their peers and teachers how hard they had worked in the run-up to the competition. The National Stadium was packed with supporters and many of the bouts were top-quality and very exciting sparring sessions.
We have met with the Show Racism the Red Card group, in hopes to collaborate and include foreign nationals in all of our programmes; however, since they are mainly an educational group and they themselves, approach schools and clubs like our boxing officers, it is obviously quite difficult to merge an educational programme, with a very physical programme, without interrupting the flow of either. However, if anyone has ethnic groups they work with, who would be willing to work with us, I would love if they contacted me to secure a viable link in such a worthwhile venture. ‘Inclusion’ is the key to harmonisation and a fundamental understanding between various ethnicities and it’s only by working in tandem; that open-minded and intelligent folk, realise that people are people, no matter what ethnicity they belong to. Of course various cultures differ, but that’s what makes life interesting- learning new traits and adapting to other group’s customs in certain varieties, only enhance the understanding between people of different cultures and is the way forward in this ever-changing, dynamic Ireland we now live in.
We have also been welcomed with open-arms by primary and secondary schools. It’s great to have the support of the community, but to be welcomed into the wider educational establishments, is a great achievement. It is also one of our goals to one-day, become part of the physical education curriculum through the Department of Education and although there is still a lot of work to be done in this regard, we are hopeful that we will be successful in achieving such.
All-in-all, our programmes, thus far, have been a fantastic success and we have had the backing and support of schoolteachers, principals, liaison officers, the Garda, politicians and social workers, to name just a few groups. This trend is certain to continue and hopefully within the next 12-months, we will be able to open the flood-gates to a nationwide scheme, helping to promote boxing all throughout the country. Our great sport is a ‘hot-topic’ right now and with the Olympics just around the corner, the Irish are now considered one of the ‘top-dogs’ in world boxing, which is an incredible achievement for such a tiny country.
Surely, if our development scheme can be expanded nationwide, this would only increase our chances of winning more Olympic medals, creating positive vibes and establishing strong characters as upstanding members of this proud country. Most importantly though, champions aside, it will help our children and youth get up off the couch, off the streets and away from video-games; whilst, promoting healthier lifestyles within a sport with so many positives on offer.
Furthermore, boxing as a whole, represents so much more than just a sport. When you think about it, most will form a reflection of mankind’s attributes pertaining to it; including, resilience, honour and courage, not to mention the dedication to be successful and ultimately to be a survivor in this big, bad world. So, in my opinion, we’ve really got the ‘total package’ here to work with- it’s surely a sport that mirrors life in general and I feel we must try to nurture the interests of our children and youth, by directing them towards this gift of a programme; which, in turn, will grant upon them, fantastic learning-experiences, which teaches core methods to optimise health and fitness opportunities. Perhaps, most importantly though, it will bestow upon them, a very positive direction down the road of life itself.
23 April 2011
Since its inception in 2001 Irish-boxing.com has consistently provided news, views and information, keeping the boxing public informed on a daily basis. In modern times, having a strong online presence is vital to any sport and the growing phenomenon of social networking (Facebook, Twitter etc) and the likes of YouTube mean that all manner of boxing material is uploaded and circulated on a daily basis. We are now in a situation where a number of outlets provide quality output on the Irish circuit, although when Irish-boxing.com first came along the domestic scene had grown stagnant. As founder Tomas Rohan explains, the site appeared from humble beginnings.
It should be said that the first ever Irish boxing website was Irishboxingnews.com which was run by Gerry Callan’s son David, Tomas remembers. It carried news, fight reports and Gerry’s columns from the [Irish Daily] Star but David wasn’t able to devote as much time as he would have liked so he actually gave me the archives of his site to use on Irish-Boxing.com. I initially set up the site on April 20 2001 to ensure that Irish boxing continued to have an online presence.
Back then the professional scene was still pretty dormant here but there was enough going on between the UK and US-based Irish pros and the amateurs to keep things ticking along and it slowly gathered momentum thanks to a whole host of regular contributors and we had columns by Wayne McCullough and Sam Storey.
It’s funny now looking back on a lot of the early articles to see guys who were then only emerging in the amateurs and have since gone on to enjoy huge success both in the amateur and professional ranks.
Tomas supplied me with a web archive file which made the trip down memory lane even more fascinating. There was a story about Bernard Dunne turning pro with Top Rank (which failed to materalise), news of Neil Sinclair lining up a challenge for the British title and the early rumblings of Eamonn Magee vs. Ricky Hatton. As the countdown to the 2001 World Amateur Championships gathered pace, a story from 27 April 2001 catalogued the results from an Ireland vs. USA International event at Dublins National Stadium. Rohan points to two standout results that read: John Duddy 4-5 Andre Ward (middleweight) and JP Campbell 7-4 Andre Dirrell (featherweight).
When Tomas departed in 2007, to take up a role working for promoter Brian Peters, he left the website in the capable hands of Cormac Campbell. A former reporter with Setanta Sports, Campbell revamped the look of the site and adopted the form of a monthly magazine, pumping out the information via RSS feeds while adding various new features over time and establishing a supporters club.
I first started writing for Irish-boxing.com in 2003 while at university in Belfast so it was something I had cared about for a long time, explains Campbell. In the early days shows in Ireland (never mind Belfast) were few and far between and only a handful of the Irish papers were covering the sport properly. As such, Irish-boxing.com was filling the void for many fight fans. There was, however, a belief that things would change and for a spell (2003/2004) Brian Magee breathed life into the industry with a string of shows at the Kings Hall – but the real change in direction came when Bernard Dunne returned from Los Angeles in 2005.
Finally, regular boxing was here. What’s more, it was on terrestrial television and in the newspapers. Ironically, this nearly put an end to Irish-boxing.com as Tomas began working for Dunne’s promoter Brian Peters and as a result the site was put on hiatus. Then in late 2007 I asked Tomas if I could take over the site and he agreed. The site was redesigned and re-launched the following March. Whereas in the past it focused not only on Irish boxers but also on the British and International scene, the growth in the Irish industry allowed us to focus solely on Irish boxers.
Cormac rates Bernard Dunne’s famous world title victory over Ricardo Cordoba as the undisputed highlight of his time as editor. Despite this there have been countless other outstanding moments and the revitalisation of the Irish title is something else that has pleased me greatly, he adds. More and more young boxers of real talent are coming through and the standard of coaching in Ireland is second to none. So as long as the economy doesn’t collapse entirely (and that is possible), the future for boxing in Ireland appears bright.
It is never easy to predict what the future holds for Irish boxing online but it appears we have plenty to look forward to over the coming years. Journalist Jonny Stapleton provides freelance coverage for The Daily Mirror and regularly contributes to Irish-boxing.com. Jonny will also be taking a more hands-on role in the coming months as Cormac Campbell prepares to pass over the reins of the ten-year-old site.
I am both proud and grateful for the opportunity to work with Irish-boxing.com over the last few years, declares Stapleton. The first stories I submitted were interviews with amateur stars Kenny Egan and the late, great Darren Sutherland and fittingly were probably of an amateur standard. However, Tomas Rohan and subsequently Cormac Campbell continued to take and publish my copy enabling me to combine two of my favoured past times in boxing and writing. Despite working with local press before upgrading to national press with the Irish Mirror I always continued to submit stories to Irish-boxing.com. Partly because I wanted to share the news, views and reactions with the international audience I know the site commands and secondly because I felt the website had done so much for me and boxing over the last 10 years that I owed it good copy.
Jonny is keen to be taking over the site and extremely capable of doing the longstanding institution justice as it enters its tenth year.
Irish-boxing.com has been at the forefront of the Internet revolution in Irish sport and I firmly believe the development of the website and the constant source of news it provides has helped boxing roar over the last 10 years even after the Celtic Tiger began to whimper. The website has played its part in aiding the great Bernard Dunne to generate interest beyond the fanatic and played a big part in courting TV and sponsorship too.
Jonny Stapleton is also a big believer in the online revolution: The Internet in general has revolutionised how boxing is covered, consumed, discussed and debated, he says. News and views are instant. Results shared in seconds. You can follow round-by-round action of a Thai fight in the comfort of an Irish office. Whilst the referee is administering a ten count to a bamboozled fighter, social network sites are concededly administrating it to an excited global audience.
One of the world wide boxing webs biggest achievements is to give a voice to fans and the little men of boxing. The net has lessened the dictatorship element of boxing coverage and created a more socialist boxing press. All fighters are equal and have a say online. As a result the boxing fan can consume news of what is generally viewed as a minority sport by the wider media in massive proportions and gleeful abundance. Debutants, journeymen and those without serious backing, who are not deemed worthy to be given a voice or column inches in national papers, receive website yards to scream at the top of their lungs until the Nationals listen and pay heed.
The development of forums also gives the individual fan a say. I am reliably informed that promoters in Ireland, and abroad, study the forums for reaction, views and tips! Another facet of the Internet is more creative writing. Indeed, some fight reports can be more entertaining than the bouts themselves and the battle to land the biggest and best puns can be more intriguing than the fight to land the biggest punch.
So as far as Irish-boxing.com is concerned, heres to another 10 years?
If the next ten years in Irish boxing are as good as the last 10, concludes Tomas Rohan, then there will certainly be no shortage of material to keep Irish-Boxing.com going.
The full version of this article can be found in the recently released 2011 edition of the Irish Boxing Review. Now available through Amazon, eBay and PayPal, more information and links can found at www.irishboxingreview.com.
23 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Andy Lee has told fellow Irish middleweight Anthony Fitzgerald to get in touch if he wants to get it on.
Fitzgerald, who this week was granted a top 15 world ranking by the WBA, has been much maligned for continuously calling out the American based contender, as some pundits and fans suggest he has done little to earn a shot at the Lou Di Bella promoted fighter. However, speaking to Mirror Sport yesterday the Limerick man confirmed he wants to fight the EBA middleweight champion in the second of two keep busy bouts before he returns to big time action on HBO in the autumn.
Lee, who hopes to rectify his only career blemish by fighting Brian Vera latter in the year, will appear on a Rose Mount Chicago bill against a yet to be named opponent on May 18. After that bout the Kronk fighter, who registered a dramatic come from behind stoppage win over the previously undefeated Craig McEwan last time out, wants one more clash before his big time TV return, which will most likely be a world title eliminator against Vera.
And the Emmauel Steward trained former Olympian, who seen an all Ireland middleweight clash with John Duddy fall down earlier in the year, wants that bout to be at home and has told Fitzgeralds people to get in touch re a possible summer clash.
I’m fighting May 18th in Rose Mount, Chicago. I don’t have a confirmed opponent yet but it should be settled in the next day or two. After the McEwan fight I had two weeks off but I’ve been training hard since. HBO have said they want me back on TV but not until late August or September. So until then I’m hoping to have two stay busy fights, Lee told Mirror Sport before suggesting he would like one of those fights to be against Fitzgerald.
One of those fights is obviously May 18 but I would like another, maybe in July and then a big fight on HBO possibly against Vera. I’d like to fight in Ireland in July, but I’m not sure how things are there with RTE. Maybe we can talk to Brian Peters and see if wants to put on a show. I wouldn’t mind fighting Anthony Fitzgerald, if he’s up for it like he’s been saying he is. If he is then his people should get in touch with Emanuel and we’ll get it on, the contender added before discussing a fight Texan Vera claims is all but made.
I’m not sure where the Vera fight is in terms of being made, I’ve expressed to my Promoter Lou Di Bella that I want the fight but it’s really up to him and Vera’s management if it gets made.
Elsewhere Patrick Pajo Hyland will grace the ring next week on the undercard of Darren Barker’s European title challenge. The middle of the three champion brothers Patrick Hyland will fight a yet to be named opponent in London before appearing on a show promoted by his father in the National Stadium latter in the Summer.
The date of that Hyland fling looks set to be changed due to the fact Andy Murray is due to challenge for the European lightweight title in the same month. Another Irish fight suffering a date change in a big title fight is Matthew Macklin. Mack the Knifes world title fight with Felix Strum has been moved to June 25.
22 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Paul McCloskey may be able to fight his way to a rematch with Amir Khan after WBA interim light-welterweight champion Marcus Maidana revealed he was interested in defending against the Dungiven star.
McCloskeys promoters Matchroom are battling outside the ring to try and ensure the hard done by star gets another shot at the 147 pound champ. But with Khans team ruling out a return and the WBA not permitted to award the Derryman a rematch, McCloskey Khan II looks unlikely. McCloskey, however could take matters into his own gloves and into the ring and make himself mandatory for the strap he failed to claim in the MEN Arena last Saturday night by defeating the interim champ, Maidana.
Granted Khan may have lost the belt to Timothy Bradley, who he is set to face in July, or move up to welterweight by then, but a reverse over the tough Argentine would still leave McCloskey poised for another shot at the strap. And Maidana claimed this week that he is open to fighting the former European champion. Indeed Maidana, who also suffered defeat to Khan albeit in less controversial circumstances, suggested he would fight McCloskey next if the renowned stylist was to travel to South America.
Speaking to Mirror Sport Maidanas manager Sebastian Contursi said, Marcos is certainly open to fighting Paul McCloskey. Paul would be a viable opponent, but the terms would have to be right. Marcos would consider fighting anybody, as long as they are viable opponents and he receives the kind of payment he is worthy of.
If that fight was to be made Marcos would definitely be confident of beating Paul McCloskey. Marcos is a world class fighter and fears no man including McCloskey. Maidana and McCloskey would be a good fight to have on the undercard of Khan and Bradley, but Marcos next fight will be held in Argentina. Maybe Paul would be interesting in travelling here to fight, Contrusi said before claiming Maidana felt the McCloskey stoppage was premature.
Marcos saw the fight and he commented that the cut was not meaningful enough for the doctor to stop the bout. He said he would be very upset if he was stopped in such a manner.
Meanwhile McCloskeys promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom is adamant the Dungiven man has proved he able to cut it at world level and will not be returning to the continental scene. Son of Matchroom founder Barry, Eddie Hearn claims the John Breen trained fighter has IBF belt holder Zab Judah and indeed Maidana on his radar.
Paul’s stature in world boxing has grown dramatically after Saturday night. I think the Judah fight is a possibility for Paul if Khan will not step up to the plate. We are hoping the WBA take some action. They do have a system when they make a fighter a super-champion and that leaves the title vacant and Paul could box for that if the WBA accept that because of the controversial ending to Saturday night’s fight he deserves another chance. One thing is sure, our plan is that Paul McCloskey’s next fight will be for a world title, Hearn explained.