By Jonny Stapleton
So much sweat trickled down my brow you would have been forgiven for assuming I and not ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan had just sparred four rounds.
The Cork middleweight put me on the spot! He didn’t just ask this writer for a O’Sullivan versus Fitzgerald prediction he all but demanded it.
Working for a site that prides itself on championing Irish boxing, providing info hungry fight fans with news and interviews across the Irish fighting spectrum, not to mention providing a platform for Irish fighters of all levels to get there name out there, we remain unbiased in all Irish fights.
So personally I would have preferred to do such a stint of fence sitting that I’d need a doctor’s help to get the splinters from my rear.
‘Spike’, who like ‘Fitzy’ has always been good to the website and in turn our readers, has that Charles Bronson old school western hard man air to him and pleading the fifth looked like a dangerous option.
Fitzgerald is a hard man too- and the thoughts of having to interview him a number of days later knowing he may have viewed the video, meant telling ‘Spike’ what he wanted to hear was not an option.
So under pressure I mumbled nervously through what I thought might happen. However in reflection this writer was wrong- being unbiased doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion.
Being pro Irish boxing and not pro any individual Irish fighter is something we hold sacrosanct in the Irish-boxing.com office, especially when it comes to domestic dalliances.
In terms of the three derby clashes on the show we can honestly say that we want to see Irish boxing come out the winner and regardless of whose hand is raised on November 15 we are confident the pro game outside of buzzing Belfast will be the main benefactor.
That bodes well for Irish boxing and in turn Irish-boxing.com. However the fact we are happy to celebrate any wins from mouthwatering Fitzgerald versus O’Sullivan, Ian Tims versus Michael Sweeney and Declan Geraghty versus Jono Carroll bouts doesn’t mean we can not have a view as to how each bout will play out.
So after reiterating that we can watch and enjoy these fights with a nigh on neutral hat on and emphasizing that win lose or draw all six fighters will still get the same coverage and backing from Irish-boxing.com we have elected to try and predict what will happen in the three eagerly anticipated bouts.
Anthony Fitzgerald versus Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan:
After stating I would put our neck on the line it may seem quite ironic that I find this fight to hard to call. It isn’t a cop out. We have done more SWAT analysis than a high end finance professional and weighed more pros and cons than a Unislim leader does women on a Tuesday night-and still can’t come to a conclusion.
If you go on gym talk over the years ‘Spike’ would be a favourite. The Cork fighter is rumoured to pack a mule like power. Sparing tales make for interesting reading. By all accounts he has more than held his own with big names and hurt his fair share of respected fighters despite the fact they had padded gloves and head guard safety net to fall back on.
The Cork man has also been viewed as a better prospect over the years.
In most eyes he would also boast the more rounded skill set, although his November 15 foe has an underrated jab and his skills are done a disservice by his ‘teak tough’ image.
O’Sullivan like sparring stories are not present to argue Fitzgerald’s case. Indeed some jest the former Irish champion might lose a round to a punch bag in pre fight camp. However, ‘The Pride’ has danced with World class operators and whilst his performances were not perfect 10 material he proved he is capable of competing at the top end.
Against former World champ Hassan N’Dam he showed whilst he might not have Iron Man’s bag of tricks and attacking flair he is made of the same element that makes up one half of the super hero’s name.
The inner city Dub also gave former World title challenger and December 13 World title hopeful Andy Lee a fight. Indeed he still maintains he beat the Limerick man.
Fitzy’, who also stopped Affif Belghecham, is a raise his game fighter and whilst he never looks sensational against journey man opposition he never looks too out of place against quality operators.
O’Sullivan, who has been more devastating against the lower rung of talent, has shared the ring with Billy Joe Saunders, but admits he under performed on the night.
So it remains to be seen can ‘Spike’ bring that gym form and game changing power into a big fight or can Fitzgerald go from testing and performing admirably against top ranked fighters to finding a way to beating them.
This one could come down to who wants it the most. Bad blood means tactics will at some stage go out the window and it should be a brawl. Who that suits I don’t think anyone can honestly say.
Throw in the fact Fitzgerald no doubt has had the best pre fight camp of his career and ‘Spike’ comes in more focused than ever and it’s nothing but a 50/50 clash.
And a clash that whilst we can’t call we will relish taking in at the 3Arena on November 15.
Michael Sweeney versus Ian Tims- I know its off but here is how I called it!
A lot of people say their first meeting was a Fight of the Year contender, but both fighters would argue it was anything but.
Tims came in injured and his Mayo counterpart didn’t train for the 2011 title fight.
Things are different this time round. ‘The Tank’ claims to be completely injury free for the first time in his professional career, whilst no one could question Sweeney’s pre fight preparations this time around.
The Ballinrobe puncher, whose brother Gary is a senior champ, has been working alongside Tyson Fury in England in preparation for the rematch. More importantly he has been working under the guidance of Peter Fury, who when you look at former Irish champion Tyson Fury’s changed physique and more restrained and clever displays, is no doubt a good influence and good coach.
Sweeney has always had talent and was deemed a good enough sparring partner for the likes of Mikkel Kessler and the Klitschkos’, but he himself will admit his dedication in times gone by could be called into question.
That certainly doesn’t appear to be the case this time round. However, although I might be proved wrong, I think the fact he has retired on his stool and showed a lack of hunger in the past might count against him this time. Sweeney has accepted defeat previously and in a who wants it most fight that might count against him when the going gets tough.
Tims is viewed by most as the archetypal boxing tough man and this fight has been billed as the tough operator against the more talented operator, who just hasn’t applied himself in the past.
However, ‘The Tank’ has amateur pedigree. He was a regular on Senior final’s fight night and he ditched the vest and won heavyweight Irish amateur titles in an hard man packed era. So he is far from a one trick pony.
The fact he has the ability to match the boxing brain of Sweeney, can draw confidence from winning the last fight and has a more proven spirit means this writer is leaning toward a Tims points win.
Declan Geraghty versus Jono Carroll
This derby clash might not be as high profile as the two aforementioned, but it certainly has the potential to be as entertaining.
Both have received massive kudos for taking the clash at this early stage of their career and two of the best boxers to interview are talking a good game.
Carroll comes into the fight somewhat of an unknown, but his attitude has been more than impressive. ‘Forget hungry I am starving’ he has claimed and the two fight novice is confident if he can pin Geraghty down he will be able to pin a winners medal on his chest.
Again gym talk has put the fighter, who has returned from Oz to forge out a career for himself in Ireland, on a high pedestal. By all accounts he has held his own with none other than Stephen Ormond and has raised eyebrows WWE The Rock style.
The ‘Geraghty hasn’t been tested yet’ argument has been raised too and by all accounts Carroll has the capabilities to make this an interesting fight.
However, the Geraghty hasn’t been tested argument doesn’t hold much weight. What fighter with a pro career of under a year has been significantly tested? And Carroll himself is open about the fact he hasn’t fought anyone of note yet either, indeed he has all but belittle his two pro foes.
Geraghty has also great amateur pedigree, is a two weight Senior champion, has represented his country and is a slick operator.
While I think Carroll will win fans,, will play his part in an entertaining fight and certainly seems to be one to keep an eye out for you have to favour Geraghty to take victory on the Macklin undercard.
If he ignores Carroll’s attempts to goad him into a war and uses his skill set and superior experience he should bank enough rounds to ensure he banks an eight pro win.