In Castlebar last weekend a host of heartwarming moments grew out of initial heartbreak.
Mayo man Ray Moylette brought big time boxing back to his home county and non-concept boxing back to terrestrial TV.
Irish fans readied themselves to celebrate a big phoenix from the flames moment, praying the lightweight would set alight casual fans desire and light a touchpaper that would bring the sport back to the main stage.
On a personal level it looked as if Moylette was on course to make himself a TV star and secure a world ranking in the process.
Then came 10 rounds that left everyone of the 2,000 capacity crowd and the 280,000 watching live on TG4 more emotionally confused than cutman Andy O’Neill when he is working in the away corner.
It was clear Moylette and Christian Uruzquieta had served up the most entertaining fight to be shown live on Irish TV since Bernard Dunne and Ricardo Cordoba.
Following 10 dramatic rounds the Irish boxing fraternity puffed it’s chest out with pride in the knowledge their sport had served up as entertaining a half hour as you were likely to see on TV across the whole Christmas schedule.
However, their was a sense of foreboding during the wait for the result. Would the two knockdowns suffered by Moylette in round five ensure the fight went the way of the Mexican?
If that was going to be the case was, would the revival be over before it started?
Looking through traditionalist glasses, defeat would be disaster. The promotional rules of the road particularly in Ireland suggest a reverse for the leading man would be a boxing death knell.
The sport struggled after the retirement of Bernard Dunne and Matchroom’s promise to bring regular boxing to Dublin was broken when Matthew Macklin lost to Jorge Sebastian Hieland.
So when the 94-95, 95-94, 92-96 scoreline was read out in favour of the Mexican, hearts could be heard breaking across the West.
Not only was there massive sympathy for Moylette, but their were those mourning the premature death of the revival.
However, unlike the night when Bernard Dunne lost to Kiko Martinez and a raucous Point Theatre turned into a morgue within seconds of defeat, in Mayo there were cheers alongside the tears and not an ‘I told you so’ to be heard
That first thought that boxing had served up a sporting occasion worthy of TV and worthy of reminiscing over in years to come became an instant comfort.
Surely people would see that the fight game was one that could entertain in an edge of the seat manner.
As the minutes passed by it became apparent the Castlebar crowd appreciated what they had just witnessed. Mayo was disappointed for their man, but not in him.
Moylette had done them proud and their love for him only increased thanks to the display they had just witnessed.
There is something beautiful about seeing that courage under Mexican fire moment and an obviously hurting fighter fight on. The spirit showed in round five by ‘Sugar Ray’ and the manner in which he battled to the bitter end, even turned things around in part was inspiring and was appreciated by those at the venue and at home on their sofas.
You could argue that display of guts won the 28-year-old more fans and respect than if he had coasted to a routine points win or a facile stoppage.
The love and warmth sent the way of the flamed haired pugilist may not have proved instant comfort for a fighter who just missed out on a world ranking and a shiny green belt, but it did reassure the Irish boxing fan. The reaction online and plaudits galore suggested, despite defeat for the leading man, Friday was a great night for Irish boxing as a whole.
TG4’s reaction to the show and suggestions they could work with Assassin Promotions for up to five cards next year is encouraging.
There is also something wholesome in the Irish language station respecting the sport as whole and appreciating the fight they just witnessed rather than just trying to hanging their hat on potential Moylette success.
It might sound strange from an Irish fan point of view, but the actual scoring of the fight in Uruzquieta was another real soup for the soul moment.
If Moylette would have got the nod it wouldn’t have been a ‘robbery’ but would certainly go under the category of the home fighter receiving every benefit of every doubt. However, having witnessed so many Irish fighters over the years hard done by abroad, there was something heartwarming about seeing an away fighter rewarded for his efforts and the role he played in a sensational fight with a career changing victory.
A wide points ‘home’ decision in favour of Moylette in what was clearly a close encounter of the boxing kind would have left a sour taste.
Indeed, it would have killed some casual interest and added to the ‘corruption’ talk that is a massive enemy to the sport.
Although it wasn’t the result the majority of people wanted, it was a result everyone respected as boxing won the day.