‘The Negotiator’ turned over later than most and with limited amateur experience back in July of 2016. At that time he was just honoured to be part of the family, but having made an impact in a unique way, he is now one win away from becoming an Irish champion.
The Loughlinstown fighter, most comfortable at welterweight, steps up to light middleweight to take on Craig O’Brien [7(0)-0] for the Irish light middleweight title at the National Stadium.
Neither his quick progress nor the significance of the green belt are missed on the former Bray Wanderers footballer – and you do sense that he takes great pride from his accomplishments.
However, the fighter, who drew critics when he decided to take on Matchroom prospects on Sky cards and proved doubters wrong with an impressive BUI Celtic welterweight title win over Crank Whitehouse, may be proud of his achievements to date – but isn’t content with them.
The Declan Geraghty-trained fighter is working toward putting in a career-best performance on the TG4-broadcast Last Man Standing show and suggests by the end of the year he could be a two weight Irish champion.
“The Irish title was a distant dream 18 months ago and now it could actually become reality on March 3rd,” Byrne told Irish-Boxing.com.
“It’s an honour to even step into the ring knowing I could leave as the best in the country at that weight and it’s also amazing to think where I have come to in such a short period of time.”
“Just like the last fight, I won’t look past Craig and I will grind it out day in day out for the next six weeks to make sure I have everything I need to put in the best performance of my career and please God it’s enough to take home the Irish title,” he added before revealing he has ambitions to rule domestically at his more natural weight.
“I knew it was going to be extremely hard to get an Irish title fight at welterweight and I also felt that Craig may struggle to get an opponent for title fight at light middle so that’s why I suggested it, and both being Dubs really made it that bit bigger.”
“I win this fight and I jump up yet again to another platform. I would really be in control of both welter and light middleweight in the country then. I plan on going back and capturing the welterweight Irish title. I am still number one for that fight after winning the BUI Celtic title.”
Byrne has proved eternal boxing optimist over the last 18 months. When a big opportunity comes he see’s the potential rewards and not the risks. While some were suggesting he was crazy to agree to fight the likes of Josh Kelly, Felix Cash and Anthony Fowler, the 31-year-old dreamt of what beating them would do for his career.
The former semi-pro also doesn’t see defeats as in as dramatic or devastating a fashion as others. He will argue he raised his profile by appearing on Sky and learnt a great deal too.
That away day experience, he claims, will stand him in good stead against stylist O’Brien and while he is adamant he will emerge from an exciting 50-50 clash victorious in true Byrne style is remains adamant defeat won’t be a massive set back.
“Losing the fight really ain’t gonna damage my profile as I am stepping up a weight against an unbeaten 7-0 fighter and a fighter with a lot of respect in this country, but you know me, I don’t think of losing. I must win.”
“I am the away fighter against the 7-0 unbeaten home fighter and I have been in that exact place before. Plus I’ve been on three live TV shows, so all that means nothing to me mentally. It’s just another day at the office and these moments are what make me keep going and thriving to get better every day.”
Byrne’s last victory a fourth-round stoppage of unbeaten prospect Gerrard ‘Crank’ Whitehouse came after a somewhat acrimonious build up, but the BUI Celtic champ doesn’t have a bad word to say about ‘The Iron’.
“Craig is very experienced and boxing years and I have nothing but respect for him,” admitted Byrne.
“Can I beat him? Why else would I have taken the fight if I didn’t think I could go and win! It won’t be easy that’s for sure, but I think it’s a 50-50 and I’m hoping my experience over the last year will see me through it.”
Byrne’s clash with the unbeaten Celtic Warriors Gym fighter will be broadcast live on TG4 just before the Last Man Standing final and, if it’s a thrilling encounter, it could become a seminal fight in the history of Irish boxing.
An entertaining fight could really capture the public’s attention and show TV networks that boxing outside seriously established names, if competitive, can make for sensational viewing.
That isn’t something ‘The Negotiator’ has to worry about if he wins he won’t care how entertaining the fight was, but he does seem aware of how good a fight it is for TV.
“I think it’s the perfect main event for a show that is said to bring boxing to a new level in the south of Ireland. Once I got talking to the lads I made sure we got it over the line and the dealings were smooth enough.”