19 December 2008 – By Mark Doyle
Olympic hero Darren Sutherland made an impressive start to his professional career, claiming a first-round stoppage win over Georgi Iliev in Dublin on Thursday night.
The 26-year-old Irish super-middleweight, who won a bronze medal in Beijing this summer, needed just two minutes and 44 seconds to dispose of his outclassed Bulgarian opponent.
Iliev had claimed a shock knockout victory on his last visit to Ireland, stopping Keith Cresham inside one round in Limerick in July, but a repeat performance was never on the cards this time around.
Indeed, Sutherland, boxing at Dublin City University, where he spent four years as a student, was determined to put on a thrilling in front of a partisan home crowd and he delivered in spectacular fashion.
He pounded Iliev with jabs right from the off, before really letting loose right big right hands to body and face.
Iliev’s face quickly became a bloody mess and he looked ready to go numerous times during the round. Indeed, Iliev had a forlorn look towards his corner midway through the round after feeling the full force of Sutherland’s power for the first time. Dubliner Sutherland was content to take his time, though, and, as he later admitted, briefly toyed with the idea of allowing Iliev to continue just to get another round in the paid ranks under his belt.
However, he piled on the pressure in the closing seconds and Iliev seemed very relieved when the referee finally called a halt to the most one-sided of contests in the dying seconds of the opening stanza.
The January edition of irish-boxing radio will have full coverage of the aftermath of Sutherland v Iliev, as Darren discussed future plans.