Darren Cruise has officially hung up the gloves.
Cruise, Roscommon’s first pro boxer in over 100 years, hasn’t fought since late 2017, but only this weekend contacted Irish-boxing.com to officially announce he was retired.
At just 29 it seems a bit early for the Westerner to call it a day, but he claims that after his second Irish title defeat, suffered at the gloves of soon to be world title challenger, Luke Keeler, he knew he was close to exiting stage left.
After 23 years in the sport, Cruise feels it’s time to depart and focus on new challenges.
“I feel that the time has come to call an end to my career. I have been involved in the sport for 23 years and it’s time to move on now and find a new focus, it was a very hard decision to make because boxing has been my whole life,” Cruise told Irish-boxing.com.
Cruise appears to be one of those boxers that came along a fraction too early and a fraction too late. In today’s climate of Irish fighters fighting each other earlier the domestic dust up keen middle may just have secured his Irish title dream a little earlier or he could have been a fixture on Bernard Dunne undercards and built from there.
He did fight for it twice, but had to move up to super middle to fight JJ McDonagh and travel to Dublin to fight now world level Keeler.
To his massive credit he lost by a single round in both and unfortunately for Irish fight fans, who would like to see him compete again he felt the ‘Cool Hand’ defeat was a ‘defining’ moment. It was that defeat that started the march toward the exit door.
“I came very close to becoming a two weight Irish champion losing 96-95 on both occasions to JJ McDonagh and Luke Keeler.”
“Luke Keeler was my career defining fight and I came out on the wrong end of a close fight, Now Luke is knocking on the door to fight for a world title, that’s boxing and I wish Luke all the best he deserves his time, but I knew once I lost that fight that was it for me.”
Those are the two moments that seem to most hurt the most, but 23 years as a sweet scientist has been a roller coaster meaning highs too as Cruise points out.
“Boxing has given me so many highs and so many lows through the years, but I have met some amazing people along the way. When I look back on my career I am very proud I won seven Connacht titles, four Irish titles, European silver , I represented Ireland on numerous occasions and became the first professional boxer from Roscommon in over 100 years.”
“As a pro I fought for two Irish titles so as a whole I am very proud of what I have achieved in the sport,” he added before thanking those that have helped and supported him.
“I would like to thank some people that have been huge influences in my career, my dad who brought me boxing at seven years of age , Frank Ward and Loughlynn Boxing Club where I first started out, John Waldron who introduced me to the pro game, Castlerea Voxing Club and Pawel Popko who coached me to two Irish title fights.
“To my managers that helped me through the years and in particular Mark Dunlop, to all my sponsors who have invested in me I am really grateful. And to all my friends and family who have followed me throughout my career thank you.”
It’s crazy to think Cruise only fought 14 times, especially considering he was always keen to test himself.
The fact that he was a solider throughout his career probably played a part in the final fight total, but it does also reflect he came on the scene just as the Dunne era was finishing.
He was an operator that had more talent that he was often given credit and his Irish title desire was something he never hid as well as something that saw him take risky fights.
Irish-boxing.com would like to wish Darren the best in his retirement and thank him for his help and openness with us over the years.