Jay Byrne [6(2)-4(1)] certainly fought to the death and never gave up in an Irish title fight he planned would be his last but, while he may have accepted going out with a competitive display, he can’t accept retiring after a bout in which he feels he was ‘swinging like a muppet’.
‘The Negotiator’ has been a brilliant addition to the Irish pro game and having won the BUI Celtic title at welterweight he revealed he felt he left enough of a mark in such a short space of time to call it a day.
However, an Irish title opportunity at light middle persuaded him to fight on. Loughlinstown’s Byrne saw the perfect chance to go out in a blaze of domestic glory, defeating Craig O’Brien and claiming a green belt
Speaking to the self-managed fighter after the unanimous decision loss, you get the feeling a solid display could have been enough for him to hang up the gloves – a move most would argue was premature. However, such is the pride of the recent Irish title challenger, he can’t walk away after a performance that seems to have angered him.
After a number of days to reflect on his TG4 broadcast title defeat to Craig O’Brien, Byrne told Irish-Boxing.com that “I was due to walk away from boxing after this, but after watching it back how could I walk away after swinging like a Muppet in my last fight?”
“I am annoyed, upset, and determined to fix this disgraceful performance.”
The 31-year-old former Bray Wanderers footballer has taken risks since he turned over 18 months ago. Not only was he keen to test himself, he thread a new path rather than following the usual prospect route. Saturday seems to have changed his mind in that regard and he will begin to put right the wrongs in Belfast on April 14th before taking a few more learning fights.
“I will begin on April 14th when I get back in against a lower level opponent to begin my comeback and it’s time for Jay Byrne to take on a couple of handy fights to improve and make sure I’m not rushing back into another war.”
If any fighter does deserve some development bouts it’s Byrne, but it’s not in his nature to pick up handy wins for the sake of it. The BUI Celtic champion still has Irish title ambitions and you get the sense that some less testing fights are part of a longer-term plan that will ultimately end in domestic success.
“I want the Irish title fight at welter as it’s what I earned by winning that Celtic title so if anyone out there wants to sit and open talks then I’m happy to sit and chat.”
“I would also be willing to rematch at light middleweight if that was possible but I respect whatever the choice Craig and his team take going forward. I am now focused determined and back in the gym ready yet again to prove my worth amidst the boxing community and I will not fail in fixing the wrongs.”
Most who took in Saturday night’s Irish title fight either live on TG4 or ringside were full of praise for the skill set of O’Brien. Talk around the Stadium beforehand saw Byrne, a slight even-money underdog with the bookies, be tipped to be too strong for the Celtic Warriors fighter.
In the end it looked like the natural skill of ‘The Iron’ beat the will and determination of constant competitor Byrne. However, despite giving O’Brien credit, Byrne was ultra upset with how he performed.
The welterweight was as honest as they come when reflecting on the points reverse.
“My reflections on the fight are simple, I made a mess of it! I entered the ring in the wrong state of mind due to a number of things and the main one being not having my coach due to the weather holding him in Tenerife,” noted Byrne, whose coach literally arrived at the National Stadium from Dublin Airport mid-way through the bout.
“Declan [Geraghty Snr] offers me not just boxing knowledge and coaching but be keeps me calm and keeps my head on the plan. When things get tough he is the one that I look to for answers and he always gives them and keeps me calm and focused.”
“He was gone for half the fight, I never ever swing wild and stupidly which everyone is aware of. I am not the most technically gifted, but that just is not part of my game and watching it back I realised my head was obviously messed up.”
“Craig boxed a great fight and his game plan was perfect for it. I do believe if I had stuck to my gameplan it would have been a hell of a lot closer but, look, that’s how it goes.”
“Craig was at his best I believe as it’s the best I feel I’ve seen him, and it’s an honour to bring the best out of him.”
Byrne features alongside Dan McShane and Feargal McCrory on the undercard of the MHD Promotions ‘Collision’ bill at the Europa Hotel topped by Paul Hyland Jr v Floyd Moore.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)