21 November 2010 – Steve Wellings
Behind every good fighter is a good trainer. It sounds like an old an adage, but it rang true on November 6 when two old rivals plotted the downfall of their opposite numbers during the Willie Casey-Paul Hyland European title fight. As it happens, Phil Sutcliffe manoeuvred his charge Casey to success, leaving Paddy Hyland (trainer of Paul) wondering what might have been had his son stuck to the carefully arranged script. Both men had plenty to say at the post-fight press conference.
Paulie got a bit of success and ran away with himself, forgetting the gameplan, rued Hyland.
We all know how strong Willie is, how much preparation he had done and after some success in the second-round Paul fought the wrong contest from the third onwards. We allowed Willie to do what he does best but if you turned the clock back a few shots then the fight might not have been stopped. Willies physique was impressive and he pushed the boat out, going in like a champion and coming out with the European title, all respect to him.
Sutcliffes team is enjoying a purple patch at the moment. This was not the first time, and no doubt would not be the last, he had been pitted opposite his Dublin rivals and was complimentary in his comments.
In real terms you have to be allowed to box your fight and we were never going to let Paul do that and take our title, said Phil. We had to change our tactics because we had planned for Kiko Martinez, but Paul got brave and things worked out better than I thought; we cut the ring down and pushed him back to the ropes which were our territory. Willie got caught with some solid wallops but he has a good boxing chin.
Willie has a Rolls Royce engine; he was only warming up when the stoppage came. Paulie came down here no problem so well go to his backyard next time.
I dont think where it was was an issue, countered Paddy Hyland. The venue didnt matter, we were all Irish out there tonight. The outcome of the contest was what mattered and Paul didnt fight the way he was supposed to, to our tactical plan.
Much has been made of Caseys stamina reserves and seemingly unrestricted durability. One man who knows just how much he has in the tank is strength and conditioning coach Joe Clifford.
Willies engine was primed for 14 rounds, not even 12, Joe responded, when asked whether Casey could have sustained such an intense pace.
That was the best four rounds in Irish boxing Ive seen for a long time. All credit to Hyland for standing there and having a go, then sitting in front of the press taking it on the chin like a true sportsman. So many people discredit this sport but there was true sportsmanship in the ring tonight. That is what boxing is all about.
Paddy Hyland was visibly frustrated at Paul having entered into trench warfare so early in the contest after enjoying some moderate success in the opening stages. Willie came out and jumped on Paul and landed a few, got a bit of success and Willie knows that. Paul got hit, became anxious and went for it, while we were screaming at ringside for him to stay on the outside because what Willie does best is grind people down.
Everything I say now would sound like a bit of an excuse and there are no excuses, Paddy added in response to the question of whether Pauls lack of experience made him panic under a wave of attacks.
In hindsight we could have said no at only two weeks notice, but we felt that Paulie had the skills and the beating of Willie. Tonight it just didnt happen for us.
Phil Sutcliffe revealed that Hyland walked straight into their trap: We planned for every scenario in that ring, we went through the good and the bad week after week and I said to Willie at the day before the fight, dont be surprised if Paul comes out and has a go at you, hes a tough boy, but well be ready for that and ready to meet him. That will be his mistake.
Ive known Paul since he was a kid and his movement on the ropes was great but we knew we could get him into the right positions and I was confident of Willies strength and knew that his engine could take over. Paulie can whack harder than people think, remember Ive done the pads with him many times.
Where Paul Hyland goes from here remains to be seen, but he is still young enough to rebuild. Willie Casey is likely to appear next in January at a Cork venue in a non-title affair. Provided he gets through that unscathed, Kiko Martinez will be waiting in the wings as his mandatory challenger.