At the same time, he settled a grudge and the Byrne-Whitehouse debate in emphatic fashion, as well as giving two fingers to those who believe the ‘traditional’ route is the only way to success in boxing.
After having his career path questioned and criticised he switched his attentions to the domestic scene in Ireland and claimed one of the most decisive all-Irish wins of the year.
Having taken his loses on the road on the chin a fighter some suggested was drifting into journeyman mode landed enough clean shots on the chin of his talented Dublin rival in the National Stadium to claim a first career title via fourth round stoppage.
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It was the perfect response not only to those who questioned if he had enough to beat a well-schooled amateur who was unbeaten as a pro, but also to those who claimed he gone about things wrong by risking his standing by agreeing to take on vaunted Matchroom prospects on the road.
While Byrne viewed his clashes with Anthony Fowler, Josh Kelly and Felix Cash as chances to upset the applecart and better his title prospects, most saw it as a sign he was trading ambition for a pay day and 15 minutes of Sky Sports fame.
Losing against all three didn’t help Byrne’s argument, but he proved he has ambition to succeed and has the ability to compete with a stand out win on ‘Celtic Clash 4’.
After the win the Negotiator was magnanimous and chose to discuss possible retirement rather than gloat. However, after being pushed by Irish-Boxing.com on the negativity surrounding his chosen approach he did admit there was reason beyond winning a first title in a high-profile domestic clash to celebrate.
Byrne admits there was joy in proving the doubters wrong.
“Two fingers? Look people do things their own way but I was happy to salute the two fingers to doubters and all them little mouthpieces who spoke behind my back about my choices and the fights I decided to take.”
“All those lads who said he [Whitehouse] would be too good and have far too much boxing for me and to the few that said I was pretty much a journeyman I have to admit it was nice to prove them wrong,” he added before bringing up some old trash talk.
“You have to remember Mr Whitehouse said before I fought Josh Kelly and I quote ‘when Josh Kelly beats him he’s pretty much a journeyman now’ and his manager also said after that loss that I wasn’t a worthy opponent for Ger.”
“Well I would love to ask both of them how it felt to be knocked out by the same unworthy opponent, AKA the journeyman, and for it to happen in front your home crowd on a show your manager promoted.”
Reflecting on the performance, Byrne reiterated that the result and manner of victory was not a surprise.
The 31 year old outlined how “I said it from day one. I knew I would be too big, too strong – the first right hand buckled his legs – and I said their wouldn’t be much in the boxing, which the fight showed.”
“I said he he wouldn’t hit me with anything I hadn’t seen before – and I laughed when he caught me to show him there was nothing in it.”
Although Byrne was an underdog, the fight was built as a competitive scrap, and victory for the Loughlinstown man wasn’t an earth-shattering shock. However, the manner in which it came did surprise everyone including Byrne.
“To be completely honest I knew I would win and I predicted as much in the run up to the fight, but I genuinely didn’t think I would of blasted Ger out in the manner I did,” he added before revealing he has enjoyed the spoils of victory.
“I have really enjoyed the texts, calls, and Facebook mails and it’s been very touching to have a lot of bigger name sportsmen and woman contact me to congratulate me on the win. I’ve enjoyed going to the boxing clubs and getting pictures with the kids and other younger lads starting out.”
While the Declan Geraghty trained fighter with 2018 Irish title ambitions was content to prove some people wrong he hopes the manner in which he finished the year may prove an inspiration to some.
In some respects, he hopes the win can help disprove the notion that protecting your 0 and padding your record is essential to success in pro boxing.
Indeed the Jay Byrne-managed super featherweight prospect Karl Kelly [1(0)-0] is looking to follow this path, and takes on top English prospect Lucas Ballingall next month in Belfast.
Byrne noted how “I hope I have set the marker now for all these upcoming pros. I hope it shows that sitting at home getting protected records means nothing so take every chance you can get at high level fights.”
“You can learn from each fight and when you come home you will reap the rewards.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish 9@ThefIrish)