When it comes to fighting vaunted prospects, Jay Byrne [5(1)-2(0)] doesn’t know his role.
Most, if not all, of the early stage opponents for novice pros signed to big promoters are brought in as tests that punchers seen as future talents shouldn’t worry about failing.
With that in mind, said prospects often face journeymen who enter the ring with survival as their sole goal. Indeed, in a bid to ensure they are called back, some would be afraid of even attempting to win.
Byrne, however, has a whole different mindset. There is no doubt when Matchroom asked ‘The Negotiator’ to fight middleweight Felix Cash and Rio Olympian Josh Kelly – two fighters he went the distance with – they were bringing him in to perform but ultimately lose.
The fighter, who doubles up as a boxing manager, has again got the Matchroom call and will fight another Olympian in light middleweight Anthony Fowler [2(2)-0] on a big Sky Sports show at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday September 30th.
No doubt Matchroom and Eddie Hearn are hopeful, and indeed confident, of the same outcome. Their fighter will bank experience against a tough operator and ultimately victory.
Byrne sees things differently. The 30 year old, who turned pro last Summer, isn’t willing to play the journeyman, is adamant he is more than a gutsy game performer, and as ever is preparing to win.
The puncher, who is a successful businessman in his own right, knows he is the underdog, but takes inspiration from fellow Irish fighter JJ McDonagh’s upset win over Jake Ball.
“When Matchroom call they’re not looking for someone to beat their up and coming stars, but sure Jake Ball learned the hard way on that one didn’t he?” Byrne told Irish-Boxing.com.
“Look, I’m no fool, Anthony Fowler is an excellent fighter and has been tipped to be a world champion – but he’s a man, and I’ll fight any man between welter and middleweight.
“It’s good to have 10 weeks for this one as I’ll get a lot of sparring in and training for this one.”
It seems the powers that be in Sky and Matchroom have taken something of a shine to Byrne and while they are not looking to build him as a star, they do see the value in him as an opponent.
They have been eyeing him as a foe for 26 year old Fowler for some time and the Irish fighter does take some confidence from the fact he is at the very least giving fighters with ‘future world champion’ billing good fights.
“I was asked to fight Anthony on the Kell Brook card in Bramall Lane but it was too short notice, and then again on the NXTGEN Newcastle show but I got injured.”
“Eddie rang my manager Mark Dunlop and asked for me directly as he knows what he gets with me and I take that as a compliment.”
“You just have to look at what Josh Kelly has done to the two opponents he fought since my six rounds with him to see what I can bring.”
Byrne’s name has obviously come up in the Matchroom offices when they are plotting next bouts for their current batch of prospects. However, he has yet to secure a fight with the one man he seems to hold a bit of a grudge toward, Conor Benn.
The Eddie Hyland-trained fighter claims he almost got the chance to fight the son of the fighter Steve Collins is said to be rematching in a 90s nostalgia bout, Nigel, but wasn’t willing to try and settle a grudge at three days notice.
Byrne thinks it’s only a matter of time until he gets the London-based fighter in the ring and hints he has been promised an interesting clash in the not to distant future if he performs against Fowler.
“I’d like a go at Conor Benn as I was offered him a couple a weeks ago at three days notice but after being out injured my weight was too much, but I’m confident I’ll get that fight soon.”
“I’ve been given a promise of something really good if I perform in this one and that will be revealed down the line.”