Four Irish boxers fought in Europe tonight [Saturday] and four Irish boxers scored points wins but that only tells half the story.
There were knockdowns, close calls, and entertainment aplenty across Belgium and Spain as fighters continued building, returned to the ring, and even made debuts.
First up in Liege, Belgium, was Thomas Carty who perhaps had the most straightforward night.
The Dublin heavyweight finally was able to make his debut following two postponements and was extended the four-round distance.
There was no opening highlight-reel stoppage for the attention-grabbing southpaw who had a very stubborn and solid opponent in Richard Pkhakadze. Carty landed plenty, digging to the body well, but there was no budging the Georgian who held out until the scorecards which all read 40-36 in the Irishman’s favour.
Then it was over to Spain and the Guardamar Arena in Murcia and a first six-rounder for super feather John Cooney. The Galway-London brawler stepped up in opposition and rounds when he took on Romanian Marian Marius Istrate over six and it almost went pear-shaped in the closing moments of the first as he was decked heavily.
Cooney, however, passed this gut-check, rising and weathering the relentless Romanian storm before finishing strong and taking the win on the cards – 58-55, 58-55, 57-56 – and moves to 4(1)-0.
Returning to Belgium, Spike O’Sullivan was back in the ring a full 17 months on from his defeat to Jaime Munguia.
While it was just a six-rounder with Georgian Nodar Robakidze, the Cork slugger weighed-in inside the light middleweight limit as he seeks a major fight this Summer and went through the motions in Belgium to warm up.
The Eastern European was negative and crafty, looking to spoil and steal but O’Sullivan still had more than enough to coast home and win on scores of 60-54, 59-55, and 58-56.
The Leesider’s record now reads 31(21)-4(3) and news of a new fight – apparently a world title eliminator in the summer – is imminent.
The fight of the night was back in Spain as we finished off and Tony Browne squeezed past tough Italian Matteo Deiana.
The Italian super middleweight strongman looked to pressure Browne throughout the eight rounds, getting in close and digging away but the better boxing came from the Dubliner.
It was close, with the slightly crude Deiana willing to walk through clean shots to land his own punches, but the classier Browne edged home on the cards – 77-74, 76-75, 76-75 – and moves to 5(1)-0.
The O’Rourke’s Gym starlet, like Cooney, has an outing lined up in Belgium for June 19th but, with their faces slightly banged up after a tough night’s work, this date may be pushed back slightly.