March 2008 – by Cormac Campbell
US based Irish middleweights Andy Lee and John Duddy may well be gobbling up the majority of column inches but Cormac Campbell discovers another Irish prospect is making a name for himself Stateside.
2001 World bronze medallist James Moore, of Arklow, Co Wicklow has built up a solid 14-0 (10 KO) ledger since turning pro as a light middleweight in August 2005, but thus far the big fights have eluded him. Under a new promotional banner – Celtic Gloves Promotions – Moore exclusively told irish-boxing.com that he expects to hit the big time in the next 12 months.
“Watch out for big things in 08, Team Moore will be stepping out of the shadows and becoming a real contender,” he said. Already marked out as a ‘Future Champion’ by Ring 8 of the Veteran Boxers Association, Moore faces a tricky test against the well-schooled Juan Carlos Candelo (27-9-4) at Madison Square Garden on March 15.
In 34-year-old Candelo, Moore faces a dangerous opponent who has tangled with Winky Wright, Verno Philips, Teddy Reid, Marco Antonio Rubio and Kassim Ouma, Wilfredo Vasquez and Angel Hernandez. Granted the bulk of these clashes ended in defeat but despite this, Candelo’s durability is not to be sneezed at with Ouma the only opponent able to end the argument early.
Moore acknowledges the step up in class, but is clearly relishing the challenge.
“This will be my hardest fight by far. I really want to fight someone in the Top 20. I am confident and know I can beat at least 10 of them – Kassim Ouma, Saul Roman and Verno Phillips to name a few.”
This confidence is based on a solid amateur pedigree and the respect Moore has earned in the gyms of New York. “In 1997 I won the Irish intermediate title but had to wait four more years to take the Seniors. I then won the title three years straight. In that time I was the captain of the National team and won four 4 nations titles, Gold medals in Germany, Austria and Spain. I boxed 44 times for Ireland. I didn’t go pro after winning bronze at the World Championships in 2001 because pro boxing in Ireland was dead at the time. I had a hand injury that took the guts of a year to heal up also.
“But I saw what Wayne McCullough and Steve Collins had achieved by coming to the US, and I also felt that the sparring wasn’t in Ireland for me.”
On arrival in the States, things didn’t exactly go swimmingly for Moore, who struggled to find opponents prepared to take on high risk, low reward assignments. Eventually this led to the formation of a new promotional outfit to help the keen fisherman achieve his potential.
“I was having problems getting fights, so Celtic Gloves was formed by the Sullivan family and their construction company ‘Navillus’ – Sullivan spelt backwards. Since then I have won prospect of the year in ‘Fist’ magazine in Australia and just got prospect of the year by ‘Ring 8’ this year. It’s nice to be getting some recognition for my hard work. I haven’t had any wars yet as most guys just try survive after they’ve taken a few shots.
“I’ve been going to camp for my last few fight as I’ve moved into the 10 rounders. So in camp we run at daybreak, the runs are 4 and 6 miles depending on whether I’m sparring that day. The hills are gruelling and very unforgiving.”
Given the fact that Moore is putting in such hard work, it would be easy for him to become bitter at the level of popularity currently enjoyed by compatriots Andy Lee and John Duddy – but believing his time will come, ‘Jim’ as he is known to friends, has nothing but respect for his fellow pros.
” I think it’s only a matter of time. Every time I go home everybody wants to see me fight and I think with my style people will want to see me fight again.
“I hope Emmanuel Stuart doesn’t rush Andy too fast like he did with (Kermit) Cintron. I think Andy will be a World Champion – but not in ’08. I think John Duddy is Ireland’s best chance of a world title in 08.”
Moore also had kind words to say about a number of other Irish professionals, some looking to make their way back into title contention and others in a similar position to himself.
“I think Bernard Dunne should fight Kiko Martinez again as it was just one of those things. Ben has more talent and will not be complacent this time. “Paul McCloskey has just looked streets ahead of these guys he’s fighting even with their good records. He looks impressive.
“Oisin Fagan is also another one to watch this year once he gets a fair deal as he’s had some bad decisions in past fights.” 34-year-old Fagan will have an opportunity to impress, as he too will be in action on the MSG card.
To purchase tickets for James Moore’s clash with Freddy Curiel call Celtic Gloves Promotions at 917-559-8467, Gleason’s Gym at 718-797-2872 or through Ticketmaster.