A homecoming for the Wicklow legend has long been promised but consistently delayed and former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee believes it could be 10 years – and long after Taylor is gone from the game – before we see big time boxing in Dublin again.
Three shootings which have been in one way or another connected to boxing over the past two and a half years in the Greater Dublin Area have hurt the standing of the sport in the capital.
February 2016 saw a weigh-in for the ‘Clash of the Clans’ pro show attacked with one man killed and two injured. This February there was a shooting outside the National Stadium whilst the U22 Championships and U18 Open were ongoing where two were injured, and last week Bray BC was targeted with one man killed and two injured.
While all three tragic incidents were unconnected and nothing to do with boxing, the fact of the matter is that they have combined to badly hurt the image and ‘brand’ of the sport in Dublin.
Lee, whose greatest successes came in America, believes that a return to the thriving Dublin of the late 2000s is now a far-off dream.
“It saddens me. Boxing is in the bin in Ireland – it’s in the gutter,” he said yesterday on Newstalk 106FM’s Off The Ball.
“And it’s going to take a lot to get it back to any semblance of respectability. But I can’t see anybody who’s not a die hard boxing fan, or a family member or friend of a certain fighter, going out and buying a ticket.
“Why would you go and take a chance with your life to go and watch a sport that at the best of times has struggled to sell?”
“All this goes on and it’s the likes of Eric Donovan and fighters in Ireland who are not heard of and don’t have TV deals; who need people to buy tickets so they can fight.”
“It’s never been an attractive sport for corporate Ireland. It’s going to take a long time to heal and maybe it will take a new star to get people interested again in maybe five or 10 years.
“I can’t see any big fight being put on in Dublin for a long time and it’s a sad state of affairs. But that’s where we’re at.”