The Rocky series are generally the go-to films for boxers when it comes to reproducing one-liners, but, on the day of Olympic champion Daniyar Yeleussinov’s high profile move into the pro games, Ray Moylette [8(3)-0] has plucked a line from ‘Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story’ and only half-joked that ‘I beat him before. I beat him again’.
The Kazakh welterweight grabbed the boxing headlines yesterday as it was revealed he would ditch the vest to turn pro with Matchroom and debut on the same card as another former amateur great Katie Taylor in New York on April 28th.
Boxing fans reacted with excitement to the news, but there is one member of the Irish boxing family whose ears pricked up more than most.
The Rio gold medal winner was not only once an opponent of Ray Moylette, the Mayo favourite defeated him to claim Ireland’s first ever World Youth gold back at the 2008 Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Moylette has followed the amateur career of a fighter he has massive respect for since their meeting a decade ago, and is aware that, despite a big weight disparity, he could be sold as a potential opponent at some stage
And in typical ‘Sugar Ray’ fashion, he claims he could cause an upset if the pair were to meet again.
When Irish-Boxing.com turned the mic back on for a man who won rave reviews for his interviewing skills on TG4 last week, if not for the slick velvet jacket, Moylette explained how “as I’m aiming to be down at lightweight for my next fight, it’s pretty far-fetched that we would be meeting anytime soon.”
“But boxing is a funny game. I beat him in a World final something I’m sure he has never forgotten. If he wants to avenge this loss I’m sure my team would be ready to talk at any time.”
“I believe he is one of the best in the business but I also believe I could stand in the ring with anyone. In the words of Johnny Sun in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story – ‘I beat him before. I beat him again’.”
Moylette is one of very few amateurs to get one over on Yeleussinov, but was honest enough to admit he ‘worked the system’ to ensure a famous 3-1 win back in 2008.
The Islandeady man, who claimed European senior gold in 2011, recalled how “my fight with him was a smash and grab. I went in there a complete underdog.”
“I held my hands up tight as I could and hit him three times with right hooks over the top over the three rounds.”
“He hit me once but I never got such a beating in a fight. Scoring that time was different so I could afford to do that. I worked the system and became Ireland’s first ever male World champion in the amateurs.”
“Still, to have one over on Yeleussinov and have that notch on the belt is something I’m very proud of,” he added before highlighting he also performed admirably in a spar the pair have.
“We sparred in a training camp a few years later. He hunted me down and we went to war. It was before the World Championships in 2013. Although he was the weight above me I held my own but I was damn glad to jump out after three rounds!”
The Assassin boxer who returns to the ring in later this month in Boston in a ESPN-broadcast Golden Boy-promoted clash with Matt Doherty was disappointed not see his old foe collect Olympic gold in the 2012 Games, but believes Yeleussinov campaigned at the wrong weight and was delighted to see the Kazakh reach the amateur pinnacle four years later.
It’s clear the popular lightweight has become a fan and he wasn’t shy about revealing how Eddie Hearn has a special talent on his hands. However, Moylette warns the new pro will have to be managed perfectly to avoid becoming the new chairman of the ‘who needs him’ club.
“He is a great signing for Eddie. It won’t be long until he is challenging for major honours. Boxing is the national sport in Kazakhstan as far as I know and they always have massive support. In order to be successful in this game you need the following of the people.”
“All the real boxing enthusiasts will love him but there’s not enough of them to build a fan base. I think as he is so good and dangerous for everyone he fights he could fall into the same bracket as Sergio Martinez and Rigondeux. Serious boxers but very risky to fight.”
“I hope Eddie has a plan for him as it would be a shame to see such talent wasted.”
If the Paschal Collins-trained fighter doesn’t get a pension fight with Yeleussinov he may just have a TV career to fall back on.
The undefeated prospect was a hit on TG4 interviewing the competitors after their Last Man Standing fights and explained he fell into the role.
“I was delighted to be part of the whole thing. I was originally penciled in to do a ringside interview with one of the panelists. As one or two people couldn’t make, it the crew was short a ringside pundit.”
“Two minutes before we went live I asked them for the mic and they took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to get the exposure. I was delighted how everything went and its definitely something I would love to do more of in the future.”
Moylette got a ringside seat as his old Irish team-mate Roy Sheahan impressed his way to Last Man Standing victory.
The Mayo puncher revealed the Kildare stylist had been in contact with him with regard to going pro and claims half an assist in presenting Ireland with a new star.
“I think Ireland has gained a new favourite son in Roy Sheahan. I thought he boxed out of his skin on Saturday night with his three fights. Over the last year since I turned pro I was always getting calls off Roy, asking questions, and very interested in the set-up.”
“I could tell by him that he wasn’t content with his decision to step away from boxing. I convinced him that turning pro was the best move I ever made. He bought into it and between myself and Martin Brennan my amateur coach and good friend of Roy’s we set up a meeting with Kaz [Evans] in Assassin Boxing and the rest is history.”
“I’m not taking credit for him turning over! – but I do like to think that I helped an old friend make the right move in the right direction.”