23 December 2008 – By Jonny Stapleton
Boxing promoter Tommy Egan believes he has agreed a deal that will solve a huge Irish boxing problem, thus revolutionising the sport in this country.
For decades many fighters from The Emerald Isle have been faced with a dilemma when entering the paid ranks. They ponder whether or not to sign professional terms in the USA, in turn uprooting and taking all the boxing opportunities America can offer at the expense of massive exposure back home.
An abundance of Ireland’s finest pugilists have forged successful careers in America, training away from home, and fighting successfully in front of packed stadiums and millions of American TV viewers unbeknownst to the general Irish public.
The likes of Sean Mannion, Steve Collins, Wayne McCullough, James Moore, John Duddy, Andy Lee, Henry Coyle and Bernard Dunne were all well known in America before returning as stars to their home country. Indeed, none of their battles across the Atlantic were available for viewing for Irish fight fan, leaving the internet and print as the only ways to keep track of their progress.
Egan, however, reveals he that he has signed a deal that will change the game in Ireland forever, allowing young Irish talent progress their careers in America under the watchful eye of the Irish public, whilst training and living in Ireland.
The Irish promoter has joined forces with Artie Pelullo and Banner Promotions, signing a unique deal that will enable him to negotiate with Irish television networks on behalf of the American-based boxing promotion company for shows with Irish fighters on the card.
Egan also states he has authorisation to sign boxers to Banner Promotions under his management and believes the deal will change the whole landscape of Irish boxing.
“I really think this is the future of Irish boxing,” Egan enthused. “I think we can offer the best opportunity available to Irish fighters and give them a chance to fight in the big league.
“Young Irish fighters had previously begun careers in the USA and no one really knew of them back home. They were packing out stadiums but were not too well known here, and even if they were in the public eye you couldn’t see their fights. This deal can solve that dilemma they can have a career in the USA but can live and train in Ireland.
“They can also still have their fights aired in Ireland and keep up a profile back home. If they fulfill their potential and perform well they will get world title shots.
“Banner Promotions are well respected, as is Art Pelullo: he is amongst the top three promoters in the World. These fights will also be broadcast across America so they get exposure both sides of the Atlantic. Every fight night will have top-class bouts with either contenders or world title fighters topping the bill, but will also have Irish fighters on the undercard.
“They will be quality fights, the American networks don’t settle for anything less, so in that regard it’s good for the Irish boxing fans too,” he added.
The first to benefit from this new deal will be Mayo’s Michael Sweeney. The hard-hitting light-heavyweight will fight on Valentine’s Day in, fittingly enough, Paris, ‘The City of Love’, on the undercard of the Cristobal Cruz-Cyrill Thomas IBF world title fight. That exciting fight night will be aired on France’s Canal+, as well as across America, and, if all goes to plan, will be aired on Irish television, too.
Egan believes the undefeated Sweeney, who has been compared to Steve Collins, has the potential to go all the way and could get a world title fight within two years. He also states he will be the first of many to benefit from the “unique” deal.
Sweeney’s career will be American-based but he will train in Belfast under the guidance of world-class trainer John Breen and Eamon McGee, both of whom have proven track records in the boxing game.
Breen has helped Martin Rogan and Paul McCloskey achieve sensational recent success, while McGee was a former WBU welterweight title holder and was the first man ever to introduce Ricky Hatton to the canvas during a world title fight in front of a 20,000 MEN Arena Manchester crowd on June 1, 2002.
Michael has already signed with Art and the Banner Promotions,” Egan revealed. “They are really impressed with him and will believe he is Ireland’s next boxing superstar.
“He is working with top-class trainers in John Breen and Eamon McGee and he is a very exciting prospect. He will probably fight once a month for a while to improve his record and he could get a title shot within a couple of years.
“It’s a great opportunity for a fighter that couldn’t really get fights here and one that many others will eventually avail of. I think this is the future of Irish boxing and could revolutionise the sport here,” he argued, before claiming this unique deal will help young talent struggling to burst onto what he believes is a stagnant Irish scene.
“The recession might prevent some people taking Irish boxing live, which is unfortunate, but this provides a great alternative.
“Also it will help young good Irish fighters progress. At present some have to promise to sell a certain amount of tickets to get onto a show. Hence some are struggling to get fights and those that do are stressing over selling tickets coming up to the bouts which is never too good. There will be no ticket worries for my fighters, they will do what they what they are paid to do – fight,” he concluded.
For more information don’t hesitate to contact Tommy Egan on 0868148296-or email firstname.lastname@example.org.