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DRAW AFTER WAR – Kevin Cronin and Jamie Morrissey ends in controversial stalemate

The Irish light heavyweight title remains vacant following a thrilling battle between Kevin Cronin and Jamie Morrissey tonight in Galway

Chief support to Kieran Molloy’s big homecoming in the atmospheric Leisureland venue, the Kerry and Limerick boxers scrapped to a standstill.

Just 11 weeks on from their epic first encounter, the pair served up a sensational 30 minutes of fighting in Salthill that will now surely be repeated AGAIN following the debated scorecards stalemate – with many believing Cronin deserved the nod.

Back in February in the ballroom of the Europa Hotel, Morrissey came through a ferocious Cronin finish to squeak a 77-76 win on the referee’s card to claim his second BUI Celtic title.

While boxing these days would usually dictate a delay, a rebuild, or the pursuit of ‘other options’, both immediately agreed to a rematch and were rewarded with a shot at the Irish title and a spot on an ESPN+ Top Rank/Conlan Boxing card.

Irish fight fans were rewarded with war – but one without a winner.

Indeed, Morrissey will no doubt be the happier following tonight’s action, surviving to see the bell and maintain his unbeaten record. Cronin, meanwhile, is dejected.

A similar pattern to the first bout, Morrissey did the more effective work early on but the Cronin momentum in the second half of the bout just couldn’t be stopped and he inflicted big damage in the latter rounds – but it was not enough to take the bout on the cards.

There was no caginess or feeling out to start as both swung big early on. Cronin was the quicker to find his range with left hooks but Morrissey quickly answered back with a succession straight shots.

Morrissey landed the first properly heavy shots at the start of the second, landing a pair of straight right hands on the chin of Cronin, rocking him back. Bloodied from the nose, the Kerryman inched his way back into the round, first with a left hook and then with a sharp counter as the pair traded to the bell, Morrissey looking the stronger.

Furious in round three – the pair only stopped for a short break following a clash of heads – Morrissey landed a salvo of long punches that solidly took the round for him while Cronin tried his hardest to get on the inside.

Slowing down his approach, attempting to work an opening, Cronin landed a pair of enormous left hooks which shook Morrissey as the pendulum swung once again in round four. Retaliation was instant, with a southpaw right hand from the Limerick man rattling Cronin and the temperature in a boiling hot Leisureland rising somehow even further.

Scrappier in the fifth, Cronin was being frustrated by Morrissey’s tactics on the inside, the longer man wrapping him up whenever Cronin attempted to get inside. Disrupting the ‘Kingdom Warrior’s’ attacks, Morrissey landed the better shots when the pair did trade.

Exploding at the end of the sixth, the pair threw down, both landing huge clean shots – but it was Cronin who this time got the better of things as the crowd went crazy.

Rocking the Treaty man to the ropes at the start of the seventh stanza, the Cronin charge continued. Morrissey attempted to slow things down, tip-toeing the along the line in terms of the rulebook, searching for the second wind that his opponent was currently enjoying.

Pushing hard, Cronin had Morrissey on unsteady legs and in big trouble. The most decisive of any round thus far, Morrissey looked spent at the conclusion as both moved into uncharted territory.

A quieter ninth after the insanity of what went before, Cronin remained in control, probing the brave Morrissey who had to be hoping he had banked enough of the early rounds to have a shout on the cards.

Charging forward in the final round, Cronin landed shot after shot on Morrissey whose gumshield fell out for a third, fourth, and fifth time of the bout, as he made the final bell, exhausted. The roof raised, every man, woman, and child on their feet as they celebrated a special fight and two special fighters.

Going to the cards, Cronin looked the more confident but he would be left enraged when a split-draw (96-94, 95-96, 95-95) was called to a chorus of boos amongst the largely neutral crowd.

Irish-Boxing.com scored the bout 96-94 – giving Morrissey rounds 1,2,3,5 and Cronin rounds 4,6,7,8,9,10, with the first and the fourth rounds being the tightest to score.


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie