A fight that is too close to call between two fighters that would have to share a room to be any closer in proximity.
The Irish super bantamweight title fight between Dylan McDonagh [3(1)-1(0)] and Carl McDonald [4(0)-2(0)] doesn’t need any extra narrative or ‘the big sell’ to make it any more appetizing to Irish fight fans.
However, there is one interesting angle and story that hasn’t really been explored and one that should add to the sense of occasion in Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh this coming Saturday.
The Irish super bantamweight has not been contested in over 10 years and the last, and indeed only, man to win it was Paulie Hyland – who outpointed Marc Callaghan to take the title in July 2008 on a TV3-broadcast show at the National Basketball Arena.
Like both protagonists in the Celtic Clash 7 headliner, the youngest of three Irish champion brothers was from Jobstown in Tallaght and, like McDonald, Hyland was a product of Golden Cobra and the coaching of the late great Paddy Hyland.
While former EU champion Hyland – who turns 34 today – is happy that Irish super bantamweight champion status can be claimed by a neighbour this weekend, he is hoping for a McDonald victory.
A win for ‘The Cobra’ is a win for Golden Cobra, a now inactive club, and in a way it’s another Irish title win for the late Paddy Hyland and a win for the Hyland family.
McDonald, who is now coached by the oldest of the three retired boxing brothers, Eddie, has been described as family and monther Dinah was ringside to see him win the BUI Celtic belt during the summer. The 28-year-old grew up in the gym with all three brothers and learnt his trade under their father.
The last fighter to win an Irish amateur title under the Golden Cobra banner now has a chance to honour Paddy Hyland with a second pro title win and victory on Saturday would be celebrated as much by the Hyland family as it would be by the McDonald family and friends circle.
Speaking to Irish-Boxing.com Paulie Hyland, who revealed all three Irish titles won by him and his brothers were buried with his late father, claimed he would love nothing more than to pass the title to McDonald on behalf of his Da.
“Loyalty means a lot and Carl is loyal. A real Golden Cobra lad,” said Hyland.
“I know Carl since he was eight when he was in and around the gym. He was working with my Da from then and now he is with Eddie. It would be nice to hand over the belt to him and say ‘that’s from my Da’.”
“We put the Irish titles in with my Da when we buried him and it would be nice to be able to give it Carl,” said the retired-too-soon fighter before stressing either way he is happy the title will be staying in the area.
“Saying that, the best thing thing is the title will be staying in Jobstown not matter who wins. I am happy about that.”
While he may be Camp Cobra, Hyland has respect and time for another local in McDonagh and admits it’s a tough to call clash.
Like most, the fighter who won 11 Irish amateur titles across the age groups and levels can only safely predict one thing with regard to Saturday’s mouthwatering top of the bill clash – it’s going to be a fight to remember.
“It’s going to be a cracker,” he adds with real excitement.
“I really can’t wait to watch it. I am really looking forward to this one. It’s going to be a war. I think it could come down to who wants it more,” he continues before predicting where the fight could be won and lost.
“Who wants it more and who uses the better boxing brain. I think in that sort of war fight it’s the one who picks the shots better rather than just throw down for the sake of it. The fighter who can kind of be smarter in a heated battle. Also the one who can defend a flurry and counter back well.”
Hyland’s claiming of the title didn’t come after a blood and guts 10 rounds. The naturally gifted fighter outboxed and outclassed former two-time British title challenger Marc Callaghan.
“I just boxed the ears off Callaghan,” he recalls of the 98-93 win.
“I remember watching it back and Steve Collins saying I was like an Irish Roy Jones Jr. I could have retired happy then. Roy Jones is my favourite fighter I loved watching him and that was just like ‘yes’ for me!”
Although he never showed it the youngest and possibly the most natural boxer of the three fighting brothers suggests there was some pressure going into the clash.
After excelling beyond his brothers in the amateurs, Paulie went into the fight as the only Hyland not to have won an Irish title at senior level. Eddie with victory over Kevin O’Hara in a now legendary fight and Patrick with victory over his cousin Paul Griffin had claimed had placed green straps on the family mantle piece just months earlier.
So, the younger brother was determined to win and do so in style.
“The brothers had already won Irish titles I was the last one going for it so it was a big deal and a big fight for me and I suppose the family. I was the first one to win a senior amateur title, actually I was the only one to win one, so I had to win that title and I had to make a bit of a statement.”
“It was a big occasion for me. It also on TV and Jamie Moore won his Irish title on that show. It was in Tallaght too, at the Basketball Arena which added to it.”
“It was beautiful to win that title. It was great for me and an honour. It’s most pros first goal. I am very surprised no one has gone to fight for it since. There are so many fighters and fights now it would seem easier to get Irish title fights made, but no one has challenged for the super bantamweight title until now,” added Hyland who defended the belt once with a third-round knockout of Eugene Heagney.
As he explained, Hyland knows what it means and how it feels to win an Irish strap as a pro. However, while he is excited about this week’s bout, a bit of gloss has been removed for him by the fact the fight has been made at 120lbs rather than the official 122lbs limit.
“I am a little annoyed it’s at a catchweight. It shouldn’t be. It’s ridiculous,” scolded Hyland.
“You should fight at your weight for titles. I don’t get why you need to make it catchweight. Just make the designated weight and fight. You can understand a little more at the bigger weights maybe, but not down around super bantam. It’s the first I ever heard of it at super bantam and it’s ridiculous.”
“Well, I don’t agree with it anyway, especially not for this fight. Carl’s last fight was at featherweight and Dylan’s at bantam so one is coming up and one going down. Just make 122lbs and get what is a good fight on.”
When speaking to Hyland it’s hard not to think back to the hype surrounding him when he first turned pro. While Eddie and Pajo were tipped to succeed and had good success in the game, indeed Pajo went on to challenge for the WBC featherweight title, Paulie was always vaunted as a gifted operator.
The ultimate stylist was a pleasure to watch but just as some lament the early retirement of Dee Walsh at present there are those who question what may have been of Hyland didn’t call it a day as early as 2012.
Unlike Walsh, who was riding the crest of a wave when he hung up his gloves, Hyland had a bit of rebuilding to do after he lost in Limerick live on RTÉ to Willie Casey in the only ever all-Irish European title fight but most will argue he had the ability to come back strong.
The former fighter, who now coaches alongside his brothers, admits he did consider returning at certain stages but is happy with his lot running his own business and coaching at the minute.
“Honestly there were times when I missed it and times were I still do. There were a few times I was thinking about a comeback, but then the thought of having to push tickets and to spend so much time away from the family made me think twice. I am happy to be away from that end of it and to be able to have a curry here and there if I want.”
“I set up my own business so I haven’t been coaching or down as much as I would have liked of late but it is great. It’s great to see kids do so well and learning.”
Hylandboxingacademy always flat out busy on building champions pic.twitter.com/QTJP6pX2Qc
— Paul Hyland (@paulhylanddub24) January 18, 2018
“We had seven or eight enter the Dublin Leagues last year and that was up to 23 this year. So it’s growing and you do feel great seeing kids pick up things, learn, and improve.”
“Over a few drinks at Christmas we said to Eddie, who had the D7 gym, he should come down to. We should be all working together and, after talking to Tommy McCormack and that, he decided to join us. If you think about it it’s effectively the Golden Cobra club under a new name.”