The Negotiator’s eagerly anticipated Irish light middleweight title fight with Craig O’Brien has been built by some as natural talent versus a gladiator whose success to date has been borne out of pure hard work and a determined outlook.
The former Bray Wanderers footballer may not argue against suggestions he may have had to work harder than fighters with more extensive amateur pedigree.
However, Loughlinstown’s Byrne [6(2)-3(1)] claims he has yet to see his opponent for this Saturday night [March 3rd]produce the kind of form that has forced some to wax lyrical.
The self-managed fighter admits ‘The Iron’ has done what has been asked during his seven wins, but is adamant O’Brien [7(0)-0] hasn’t produced anything worthy of the “natural talent” or “excellent technical fighter” tags.
“It’s the same thing all the time you hear them talking about the boxing ability. In fairness to Craig, I respect him, he has done well and show some good stuff, but there has been times where he hasn’t looked great.
“Realistically, has he shown he is a great boxer, like an excellent technical fighter? I haven’t seen it,” Byrne told Irish-Boxing.com.
“Now that’s not disrespecting him, he has done well in what he has done, but he hasn’t shown me he is this he is an excellent boxer. He hasn’t shown us yet that he is like, let’s say Gary Cully, where you look and say ‘this kid is going places, he has it all’.”
The fighter, who in the build-up has pointed out he has TV experience having appeared on Sky and all-Irish previous having stopped Gerard Whitehouse, admits he himself hasn’t produced the kind of silky display to suggest he is a stylist of note.
In that regard, he believes the pair enter the TG4 broadcast bout on a relatively level playing field skill set wise but Byrne, who has moved up from welterweight, believes he has one key advantage – power.
In fact, he suggests the lack of a stoppage on his opponent’s record is quite worrying.
“Now you haven’t seen that [excellent technique] in me either, that is why it’s an even fight – but he can’t punch. Seven fights, seven journeymen, no knockouts – that says a lot.”
“He is dead right, the accumulation of punches can bring stoppages, but he wasn’t able to do that against journeymen, that is worrying.”
Byrne has two stoppages from six wins, the second of which came in a BUI Celtic title victory over the previously unbeaten ‘Crank’ Whitehouse and believes O’Brien will suffer the same fate as the Balbriggan welter.
“I may not have the experience these lads have from the amateurs, but I have massive experience in the pro game. I think I am one of the more educated pros out there and I think it showed in the way I was patient and clever especially considering I was much bigger than Gerrard [Whitehouse].”
“I think the fight will be fairly similar. I do think Craig will be more live and he has a good jab, but I think it could be the same as the Whitehouse fight.”
Such has the excitement surrounding this Dublin derby that the fact the Irish title is on the line has at times been overlooked. However, the spoils of this Last Man Standing bout have never slipped too far from Byrne’s thinking.
Asked how important the Irish title element of the fight was, Byrne admitted that “it’s massive, good enough to walk away after.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)