Jay Byrne [9(2)-6(2)] admits he was close to pulling out after a ‘setback’ last week, but is heading into the the VIP Contender series confident not only of victory in tonight’s semis, but of an outright tournament win.
It’s a somewhat out-of-the-blue return for the Dubliner as he has been drafted in to partake in the four-man middleweight tournament and will fight for the first time since successfully defending his British Boxing Board of Control Celtic light middleweight title in Scotland in March of this year.
Indeed, ‘The Negotiator’ steps in as a replacement for Marc Kerr, the man he beat to claim the championship of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland last November.
The g-m owner, who has managed fighters in the past, has been handed the opportunity to compete in the four man tournament with a ‘cash prize’ for the winner.
To win it outright Byrne will have to handle the move up to middleweight and overcome John Telford, and the winner of Kyle Lomotey v Ben Douglas, but he remains confident of that.
“I don’t know who I’m fighting yet as the draw is done at the weigh in,” Byrne told Irish-boxing.com on Thursday night ahead of receiving Telford in the draw.
“But I’ve got a look and done some homework on all three of them and I feel I’m the most experienced of the group and hope to use that.”
“I wouldn’t enter if didn’t hold a genuine belief I could win it and that ain’t changing. I had a set back in camp last week that near ended it, but I’m good to go thank God – and I am in it to win it. The final is December 21st, so I’ll gain a nice Christmas bonus for the girls.”
‘The Negotiator’ is a light middleweight title holder, but has won the welterweight BUI Celtic title.
Middleweight, he reveals, was deemed to big a step up for him by the BUI, but he feels confident he can compete with the 160lbs fighters.
“We were in talks with Chris Blaney team about an Irish title fight at middleweight and we had agreed to that, but the BUI felt there was too much size difference.”
“I respect that but within hours Sam [Kynoch, promoter] offered me the slot on this show and I jumped at it,” he adds before explaining he has grown into middleweight.
“I’ve gained 16.4lb of muscle mass over the past six weeks in prep for stepping up to middleweight. Everyone is saying I look very strong and sized for it but I suppose I’ll know when I’m in there. Although I’ve sparred two good middleweights and done well so I ain’t worried.”
Byrne has shaken things up since turning over and has mixed admirable title success with taking massive away corner risks.
A victory in this tournament could see his stock rise significantly and he does hold the BBBofC Celtic light middleweight strap which should bring big fight options.
However, for Byrne, this weekend is just about getting back in the ring after a turbulent few months.
“I just want to get back in on Saturday. I’ve had my longest break away from boxing. I was 88.6kg in June and things looked bleak after couple bad injuries and other nonsense. But trust me when I say I have trained hard for this, my diet has been immaculate and I ain’t cut one corner so let’s just get a win Saturday. ”
“I want to get a fight in October and maybe early November if possible at either middle or back at light middle.”