48 February 2010 – By Steve Wellings
It was June 1997 when the Irish heavyweight title last made an appearance on active duty.
Kevin McBride made it his own that night, stopping Paul Douglas in five rounds and not until now does the strap belatedly return – contested by Coleman Barrett and Colin Kenna.
Galway’s Barrett is 27-years-old and riding off the back of an impressive Prizefighter campaign that saw him conquer former British champion Scott Gammer and gargantuan Carl Baker to reach the final, before falling to the vastly more experienced Audley Harrison.
Not bad for a man who had taken only two comeback fights following a four-year ring hiatus.
Relatively small for a heavyweight, southpaw Barrett displayed solid skills and good movement which surprised many followers on the night.
His reward is a match with 16-9-2 Kenna, a Dubliner based in Southampton and with a litany of good quality operators on his slate. During a nine-year career Kenna has mixed with the likes of Michael Sprott, Oleg Platov, current European champion Albert Sosnowski and most recently Sam Sexton. The form guide also shows that he loses when stepping-up in class. 10-1 Barrett is a novice in comparative terms but has the arsenal to outbox his man for long periods, so long as his stamina holds up.
I’m not going to start shouting about winning this title or that title,” explained the modest Barrett.
“I’ll go about my business in my own way but I know that I can go places. I’m still only 27 and that’s very young in the heavyweight division nowadays so I know that with the right fights I’ll be there or thereabouts over the next couple of years.
I don’t know Colin and we’ve never met before but I can guarantee you I’m looking forward to meeting him in the ring.
To win the Irish title will be a dream come true. It will be a nice one for the record books too when you consider that the first man to win it was a Galway man as well. If I can go on to achieve what he did I won’t have done too badly.
Kenna has the experience to keep things interesting and frustrate Barrett. Coleman, who is guided by brother Francis alongside Keith Walker, can make use of the same skills that earned him a World Junior bronze as an amateur to nudge a couple of points ahead and claim the first title of his professional career.