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Celtic King Jay Byrne explains reason for reversing retirement

Only when he realised the weight of the achievement did Jay Byrne [8(2)-6(2)] feel it wasn’t his time to retire.

After winning the BBBofC light middleweight title with victory in Scotland over Marc Kerr, the Dubliner claimed he was hanging up his gloves.

An Irish title get out clause was thrown in, but the manager of Lynn Harvey, Martin Wall, Karl Kelly, and Eddie Tracey claimed he was most likely done otherwise.

However, upon gaining an understanding of the significance of the title he won with one of the best away performances of 2018 late last November, ‘The Negotiator’ started to reconsider.

Now Byrne travels to Scotland in March to defend his strap against Scottish champ Stefan Sanderson on another Sam Kynoch show and will prolong his non-rulebook-following career.

“I was happy to walk away and it was a thought-out process that I had with the missus,” Byrne told Irish-Boxing.com.

“It seemed perfect timing to walk away. I did always leave the door open for a return but only on my terms. Being completely honest, when I won the title, I never even got the belt or anything so if I’m totally honest it never hit home.”

“Then loads of offers start coming in and a few people in the game contacted me and were like ‘do you know how good of a title that is?’ They started talking about rankings and that and it start kind of hitting home. I realised I had achieved another big thing,” he adds before stressing that his decision to initially call it a day was family-based rather than injury or age motivated.

“I never felt in any way old or that I wasn’t able. I personally feel that my body is in top class condition and has a lot of miles left if my head and heart want it.”

Byrne has fought on big Sky-broadcast shows in the past and often points out taking on a big name abroad is win-win. The Loughlinstown man’s thinking is you get the chance to change you life with a massive upset win and if that doesn’t happen you get decent pay, a memorable experience, and TV exposure.

However, he argues that this away day doesn’t fall into that category and, having beaten the home favourite last time around, he is confident he can repeat the feat on the dinner show at the Trump Turnberry Resort.

“I wouldn’t have taken it unless I felt I could beat him,” promised Byrne.

“Remember, I will choose the fights that are right and although this is no easy night’s work – I do feel it’s a winnable fight and that’s enough for me. I don’t want handy night’s work against binmen.”

Although he is a champ at light middle, Byrne is considered to be part of a mouthwatering Irish welterweight scene. He has been linked to the likes of Keane McMahon, John Joyce, Noel Murphy, Dylan Moran and Rohan Daté to some degree over the years – and while he has had bouts with Crank Whitehouse, Craig O’Brien and Paddy Gallagher, Scotland has been the scene of the 32-year-old’s greatest success.

Following a loss to Paul Kean – who was later beaten by Sanderson – Byrne would score his stunning win over Kerr and he now goes into his third title fight in Scotland.

It is his relationship with event promoter Kynoch which has led to the Irishman taking opportunities there rather than at home and he explained how “it’s because Sam has been honest with me from day one. From when he was with MTK and now since he’s started Kynoch Boxing,” he continues before claiming there might be another Scottish outing.

“Don’t get me wrong, I know Sam wants this title in his stable and that’s no secret – but, remember, it’s my title now and he won’t get it back easy. I think, after the Kerr fight ,he knows that, when I beat Stefan I’m sure it’ll be [a rematch] with Paul Kean next.”

While Byrne’s immediate future is in Scotland and the link between the two countries looks like it will continue to grow, he does still harbour Irish title ambitions.

He outlined how “I always said if I’m offered an Irish title fight I’ll come back so of course I want my title shot.”

“People keep saying that the BBBoC Celtic title is a bigger title but, to me, it’s the Irish title that would really make it all worthwhile,” he noted before suggesting more Irish fighters could benefit as he did by a link up with Kynoch.

“Sam is good lad and easy to work with and has good guys on the books so can only benefit Irish boxing, but that is if any our lads are willing to step up to plate and stop fighting binmen.”


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Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com