7 November 2010 by Steve Wellings
After all the pre-fight hype the main event only lasted just under four rounds. Far from being an anticlimax, the all-Irish European title fight between Willie Casey and Paul Hyland was an outstanding, ultra-competitive spectacle that ended with Limericks own Cinderella man Casey claiming victory in front of a fervent home support. Dubliner Hyland more than played his part but ultimately rued the decision to stand toe-to-toe with his relentless opponent who ground Paul down with sheer aggression and precise power punching. Referee John Keane jumped in at 2:09 of the fourth-round as Hyland sought too much respite on the ropes, failing to punch back and wearily nodding his approval at the third mans intervention.
Obviously no fighter wants to be stopped, its our nature to fight on, Hyland admitted at the post-fight press conference when asked if he thought he had been prematurely halted.
Most agreed that the stoppage timing was right and Hyland went on to explain that a punch behind the ear had scrambled his senses and forced him back to the ropes in an attempt to regroup. Casey was in no mood to let him off the hook and stuck to the game plan despite having stylistic problems with Hyland in the first-round. Planting his feet and meeting Willie head on Hyland thought he could hurt Casey and as the round wore on I also started to believe that he could. The left hook to the body clearly a punch Team Hyland had worked on- was landing frequently, right hands sneaked through and Willie occasionally looked one dimensional, but he did appear to buckle Hyland at the rounds end with a right hook.
Pauls breathing must have been hampered by the second-round as his nose began to bleed and his mouth gaped open. Casey was trading on raw power, missing and hitting gloves most of the time but pushing Hyland back steadily and thrashing his hands as they cupped the head and ears. It was the non-stop waves of Caseys attacks that were slowing Hyland down as he tried to get back to his boxing, using the tidy long range skills that outfoxed David Chianella in Italy for the EU belt earlier this year. It proved futile, with Paddy Hyland screaming in the corner for his son to keep the distance, brother Patrick imploring Paul to make Willie miss big he had no option but to stand and trade and everyone knew that that was the wrong option. Could Hyland hold the discipline and keep Casey at bay for 12 rounds? I pondered that question pre-fight wondering whether Willie would get carried away by his home crowd, or indeed if Paul had the pop in his shots to keep the marauding southpaw at distance the answer on both accounts was no.
Paul didnt fight his fight but Im sure Paddy would agree that Willie didnt let him fight his fight, said Caseys trainer Phil Sutcliffe. I said to Willie at breakfast yesterday that Paulie is a tough kid and dont be surprised if he comes out and tries to meet you centre ring.
Casey was his usual self in the press conference, laughing and joking with the media while paying tribute to Hyland. He feels that the two could meet in a rematch somewhere down the line and that Paul can still fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion. I could have seen a rematch being a possibility had the fight gone to a close decision, but a fourth-round knockout is, on paper at least, fairly decisive.
Paul came to Limerick this time and well go to Dublin next time, said Sutcliffe, a native Dubliner himself.
Casey will defend against Spains Kiko Martinez next, probably again in Limerick, once the puncher has recovered from the injury that forced him out of the main event and to amiably vacate the title to make this fight possible. Kiko was ringside and spoke through a translator at the press conference. He predicted Hyland would win but agreed that he got his tactics wrong, but overall the Spaniard enjoyed the headline attraction. He said it would be a different story with him against Casey and his punch power would tell. We shall see.