Ask any fight fan to produce a list of qualities Anthony Fitzgerald possesses as a pugilist and you will hear words like guts, toughness, pride, doggedness, determination and so forth chimed off.
The former Irish champion certainly isn’t down as a stylist or even overly skillful, an opinion which is probably shaped somewhat by his abrasive and outspoken media approach.
However, Phil Sutcliffe, who mentored ‘Fitzy’ to the best performances of his career, claims boxing skill is the Inner City fighters best attribute and he is determined to ensure ‘The Pride’ returns to boxing and not brawling as they rejoin forces.
Fitzgerald, who hopes to return to winning ways on the Clash of the Clans card, might be of Inner City stock, but Crumlin seems like his natural boxing home and he is back at Pearse Park as he bids to kick-start his career.
Seaking to Irish-boxing.com, the coach claims that he plans to get the former World ranked fighter back to what he believes he does best.
“I am delighted Anto is back in the gym. He is back training away, as usual he left it until the last minute, but we will work on that. MGM are putting him on the February show in the Stadium, which is fantastic.”
“He is very good ticket seller and is always entertaining whether he is winning or even getting knocked out.”
“He is back now and he does listen to me. It’s great to have a couple of pro’s back in the gym. Hopefully February 6th will be an entertaining fight, but all I want is for Anto to get back boxing and be clever the way he always was with me.”
Sutcliffe believes that, since leaving Crumlin in 2013, he changed his style somewhat and suggests his performances have suffered as a result.
“I really think Anthony went away from his boxing and what he is good at. He has a good skill set and a great jab. You seen it against Andy Lee he pressured Andy with clever boxing over 10 rounds and I thought he did enough to scrape it.”
“Ok Andy landed the cleaner shots and Anto took a few clatters, but he applied the pressure throughout and I’d say he won five out of the 10 rounds clearly and was the man who pushed the fight. We know Andy can punch, I don’t know what went wrong against Saunders, but hopefully Andy gets back to where he belongs, but against Anthony it was a very close fight,” added Sutcliffe, before admitting one of the keys to coaching the former Irish champion is to ensure he doesn’t always act on his desire to brawl.
“As a coach you have to get into Anto’s head and you have to be the boss. If Anthony can do what he is told and keep boxing clean he can be successful. Okay he isn’t the biggest puncher in the World, but he can stop people. His talents are in his skills. He has a beautiful jab, that is why we call him The Pride, the jab is his Pride. So now we want to see clean boxing from Anthony. In MGM he has a team that can get him good fights, but lets get him boxing again first.”
Sutcliffe mentored the 18-8 Dubliner to wins over Affif Belghecham and Willie Hammond as well as good performances against former World champions Andy Lee and Hassan N’Dam.
The Crumlin boss added confident if he applied the approach he did in those fights against Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan, who stopped the Dubliner in a round back in November 2014, he may have won that grudge match.
“When he went away from me he hadn’t too much success. His biggest fight defeat was against Spike. I really thought he should have outboxed Spike. I’ve seen them in sparring and Anthony has the potential to out-box Spike. Look he went 10 rounds with Andy Lee and Hassan N’Dam that suggests he has the ability to do it against Spike.”
“Spike is a puncher and we won’t that away from him, he is strong tough and durable, but Anthony should have outboxed him. He got drawn in and it didn’t last that long. Anto wasn’t training with me at the time and I am not taking anything away from any other trainer, but I don’t think he went out with the right plan.”