4 Talking Points from ‘The Homecoming’


Following a good reception to our inaugural piece, ‘Talking Points’ is back and this week we look at last Friday’s big card in Mayo.

READ: 4 Talking Points from ‘Celtic Clash 7’

The series aims to raise interesting debates which stem from shows, giving both points of view and allow readers to make up their own minds – and don’t be afraid to give us your views on Facebook and Twitter.

Here we look at Ray Moylette’s big Mayo homecoming at the Royal Theatre at Castlebar, another great show and one which left us with plenty to think about.

Good Fighters or Good Fights?
The main debate that many have been having regards the undercard for the night. The left hand side of the bill, the home fighters, was perhaps the strongest collection of Irish fighters seen together on a bill in years. However, their opponents were comparatively very weak.

There was context to the TV matchmaking – Spike O’Sullivan was making a return from a loss, Roy Sheahan was added to the bill at late notice, Aaron Gethins was debuting, Victor Rabei was just back from injury, and efforts had been made to get a domestic opponent for Dylan Moran were unsuccessful.

However, as a more general discussion, what is better for an undercard – especially a TV undercard? Big, recognisable names in non-competitive fights or competitive fights between lesser known boxers? Brian Peters always said ‘it only takes two donkeys to make a derby’ and his undercards during the ‘Bernard Dunne Days’ usually featured a domestic all-Irish fight or two. Imagine if one of the brawls from the ‘Celtic Clash’ series featured on TV?

However, with TV in mind it can be a balancing act, with undercard fighters such as O’Sullivan seen as ways to draw in viewers. Once they get there, could, they need to be entertained and, with almost three hours between the start of Friday’s broadcast and Moylette taking to the ring, there could have been some that turned off before the main event.

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Should Ray Moylette go for an immediate rematch?
Beaten in the main even by Christian Uruzquieta, Ray Moylette’s future looks uncertain. Not in terms of whether he fights on or not – more what he does next. Some will argue that an immediate rematch with Uruzquieta is needed while others will urge a different path. Irish-Boxing.com has no idea in this regard and is torn between two strong arguments.

In terms of immediate rematch – the sure-fire Irish Fight of the Year has just taken place on what was a successful night for the sport on the island, let’s build on this story, narrative, and feel-good factor with a repeat in early 2019. Uruzquieta is a memorable name and a familiar opponent who has confirmed that he is open to the rematch and, being an away fighter within the United Promotions stable, needs to be pinned down quickly before he goes in in the away corner in America or Canada against strong opposition where he risks a loss.

But should we wait? While it was close, Moylette was beaten last Friday and will need to be better next time around. Could a few fights give him more time to adjust to the longer rounds, lower weight, and allow him to work on things that he and his team will have picked out from the Uruzquieta fight? Could going into a rematch so soon and while, most likely, still emotionally raw be a recipe for disaster?

There’s also the ‘marination’ argument. Let Moylette win on the proposed Golden Boy card in Boston next Paddy’s Weekend and then maybe another during the summer, before coming back for a second ‘Homecoming’ in the Autumn. Does absence make the heart grow stronger – is it a case of ‘the longer we wait, the bigger it gets’ or should you ‘strike now while the iron is hot’?

We really don’t know.

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Would a win have been ‘bad’ for Irish boxing?
Ray Moylette was not dominated in the main event and there is no doubt that the Mayo lightweight has the ability to defeat Christian Uruzquieta. However, consider Friday’s fight and if, after those ten rounds, Moylette was declared the winner?

The Royal Theatre would have went wild, Moylette would have moved to 12(4)-0, and it would have been the ‘perfect’ end to the night for TG4 and Assassin but – looking past the immediate ecstasy – would this outweigh what would come after? Considering the fight which took place, is a close loss the ‘best’ result?

While Moylette could have been awarded the fight, he would have had to been given every benefit of every doubt. If all three judges had gone this way there would have been plenty of scrutiny – it wouldn’t have been a ‘robbery’ but it would have been a ‘home’ decision. The Irish boxing scene would come in for criticism, its reputation would be hit and, maybe, some would look at Moylette a bit differently – no longer the brave fighter that will learn and go again but instead a boxer that got ‘lucky’ on the cards and who has all their good work overshadowed by the furore around the final result.

Moylette’s comeback from two knockdowns in the fifth was special itself but what has gone, naturally, under the radar was Uruzquieta’s rally in the ninth which halted his charge. With these final rounds in mind, to frame the contest as an epic comeback to a glorious win wouldn’t have sat right with, with us, at least.

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Is Niall O’Connor Dublin’s Best 130lbs Prospect?
The Ballybrack super feather featured before the live broadcast began and was one of the most impressive performers on the night. O’Connor destroyed Polish veteran Kryzstof Rogowski in three rounds with a performance that got people talking. Alongside former amateur clubmate Stephen McAfee and Crumlin’s Aiden Metcalfe, O’Connor was one of three Dublin super featherweights to debut in 2017 and his showing last Friday raised the question of which newcomer is the biggest prospect.

With lightning-fast right hands, plenty of style, and visibly apparent power – O’Connor passes the ‘eye test’ and many ‘in the know’ have him down as one of the best domestic prospects in Dublin. However, much to his own frustration, ‘Nasty Niall’ has yet to be stepped up which can make judgements difficult.

Sallynoggin’s McAfee, on the other hand, has been progressed quickly and showed his grit in his epic two-fight series with Colin O’Donovan. As BUI Celtic champion and Irish title mandatory, others would see ‘Showtime Stephen’ as the new main man at 130lbs.

Finally there is Metcalfe who has come though a hellish first two fights. Last time out he was dragged into a war by the very same Rogowski that was dominated by O’Connor and there is plenty the Crumlin fighter needs to do to move into contention. However, by far the most accomplished amateur of the three, some believe that, if he can get everything in order, Metcalfe could be the man in Dublin going forward.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie