23 March 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Anthony Fitzgerald claims the referee was right to call a halt to his EBA title fight with Affif Belghecham in City West last weekend.
Controversy surrounding the fifth round stoppage of the chief support bout to Willie Casey and Guillermo Rigondeauxs WBA title fight has added a bitter taste to what was the sweetest moment in The Prides fledgling career. So infuriated with the middlemans intervention was the French pugilist that he risked suspension by throwing a blow in the referees direction, before giving the Irish media a verbal lashing.
However, Fitzgerald is adamant the ref had no option but to step in when Belghecham had no reply to the boxing questions Fitzy was asking during the fifth stanza. The Irish Champion of the Year claims the stoppage wasnt premature but the former European title challengers reaction was immature.
I dont think the stoppage was premature, but his reaction was very immature. People are saying he shouldnt have been stopped, but I looked back at on TV. I threw 16 punches 10 of which landed. In that time he didnt throw one back. When I was putting the pressure on him that time he was saying ref, ref. From the first round he didnt want to fight me. I knew I was hurting him. Anyone ringside could see that. I dont think he deserves a rematch because of his reaction and for hitting the ref, Fitzgerald told www.irish-boxing.com.
Belghecham was meant to be the continental acid test for Fitzgerald, but despite being the only fighter to stop the respected battler the Dubliner still believes he cant get the respect he deserves. Indeed, instead of getting praise for trumping fellow Irish middleweight Andy Lee and undefeated former European Champ, Darren Barker, who both couldnt stop the former French champion, Fitzgerald has received criticism.
However the Dolphil fighter isnt too worried and seems to believe in the old marketing adage there is no such things as bad publicity.
I think I will have to knock out Mike Tyson to get some respect. A journalist asked me if I would fight Andy Lee and I said of course I would. I would fight anyone, anytime. I got stick for that. I told the journalists before this fight that everyone would be talking about me after I beat Afif, and they are. I dont mind people getting my name out there. I am delighted with the win and to EBA champion. Belghecham is a good fighter his record shows that and I beat him.