10 February 2011 – Steve Wellings
Things are looking decidedly rosy for super-middleweight Anthony Fitzgerald.
The 25-year-old is currently enjoying an 11-fight unbeaten stretch and the domestic belt holder was named Irish champion of the year at the recent BUI affiliated national boxing awards. The Pride joined coach Phil Sutcliffe and standout gym mate Willie Casey on the winners podium.
I’m delighted with the award and it’s great for Willie and Phil as well, having three winners out of the same gym, beamed Anthony, who has emerged as arguably Irelands most improved professional boxer over the past year. The Crumlin club will keep getting bigger and bigger all the time. We have the most pro boxers at the moment [in Ireland] and it’s just getting stronger.
Fitz has successfully repelled the challenges of Ciaran Healy, Robert Long and Lee Murtagh over that time period. Although recent victim Murtagh would like another crack at the belt as Lee disputes the cut ruling of their last contest, believing he was gashed by a head clash and not from a punch. Fitzgerald thinks the score has been settled and sees nothing more of interest at domestic level.
There are no other Irish fighters out there looking for fights. Some boxers are giving out but won’t defend their titles after winning them. I’m moving on past domestic level and fighting on the Casey-Rigondeaux undercard for the EBA title. Hopefully I can improve on the Irish Champion award and get boxer of the year next time. I hope that by winning the EBA title I can get a top 15 world ranking. The title is currently vacant but it’s the step-up that I’ve been waiting for.
For those unaware of the EBA title, it is the brainchild of the WBA and runs as a rival to the regular, established European Boxing Union (EBU) crown. For Fitzgerald it could prove a stepping stone to bigger nights. He was busy offering his services as a replacement for John Duddy recently when the Derryman retired ahead of an all-Irish showdown with Andy Lee.
Some praise you and others give you stick, Anthony responded, to the mixed reception his proposal received. But I should be commended for wanting those fights.
Whatever comes next for the confident Dubliner he has proven plenty of critics, who wrote him off early on in his career, that he can mix it in higher circles. This looked even less likely when the local man lay stretched across the canvas courtesy of the fists of Latvias dangerous Janis Cernouskis back in March 2009 on the Bernard Dunne-Ricardo Cordoba undercard in the O2 arena.
At the start of my career I wasn’t putting in the training, he concluded. Getting knocked out in front of 9,000 people, just two minutes away from my house was a big shock. I had to either quit boxing or pick it up. I picked it up and here I am now.