Brilliant O’Brien claims Irish title following battle with Byrne

Craig O’Brien is the new Irish light middleweight champion.

The Inner-City Dubliner claimed a stylish win over Jay Byrne in a Dublin derby at the National Stadium, live on TG4.

Following a fantastic Last Man Standing tournament won by comeback kid Roy Sheahan, the big fight night in Dublin was rounded off tonight by the vacant title fight..

A loud band of supporters from both sides of The Liffey had braved the elements to make it to the National Stadium and created a fantastic atmosphere as both fighters walked to the ring – Loughlinstown’s Byrne to ‘Freed From Desire’ and Northside favourite O’Brien to ‘All Of The Lights’.

28-year-old O’Brien, as expected, has the earlier success, boxing well off the jab and avoiding most, although not all, of Byrne’s wide shots. ‘The Negotiator’ though was setting a quick pace from the start and this continued into the second.

Indeed a tear-up ensued, with the pair coming together midway through the stanza – along with some below-the-belt shots from O’Brien who continued to land well with straight shots. Byrne was having his own success and, while he may not have won the round, he was certainly making O’Brien work extremely hard.

The southside slugger took centre ring in the third and, following a lovely straight one-two from O’Brien, landed a huge left hook of his own – the biggest shot of the fight so far as the clash continued to crackle.

‘The Iron’ O’Brien had an extremely strong fourth, moving well and mixing in some lovely combinations to head and body.

The classy O’Brien work continued in the fifth – a round in which Byrne received a warning for use of the head, with the late starter to boxing looking to make it a physical fight as the bout entered its second half.

It was indeed closer in the sixth stanza, but O’Brien was landing the cleaner punches as Byrne lunged in.

Following a few indiscretions at the end of the round previous, the pair were brought together at the start of the seventh for a stern talking to. Byrne began the round itself with a huge right, but O’Brien followed this up with a number of big rights of his own, forcing the Declan Geraghty-trained fighter back across the ring and into a corner.

Warrior Byrne upped the pace in the eighth round and O’Brien, for the first time, began to look somewhat ragged, however he was still landing in spurts of quality.

Byrne succeeded in dragging O’Brien into a scrap in the ninth, another good round for the 31-year-old, but he entered the final round knowing he needed a stoppage.

A hug preceded the tenth stanza, immediately followed by some huge shots from Byrne as he looked for the knockout, this though seemed to play into the hands of a tired O’Brien who stuck to his boxing to round out the three minutes and a memorable win.

Going to the cards, O’Brien was confirmed the winner with cards of 98-92 x2 and 99-92, scored the bout 98-92 in favour of O’Brien who now moves to 8(0)-0.

Byrne falls to 6(2)-4(1) following the loss, but showed plenty throughout and certainly belongs at this level.

O’Brien now is set to enter the European Top 15 and stated his intention afterward to defend the green belt.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)



Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: