The Divis lightweight was crowned tonight at the Devenish Complex after he destroyed St James’s Stephen Webb in less than two rounds.
The West Belfast derby headlined ‘Celtic Clash 8’ as the Boxing Ireland Promotions series returned to Belfast for the first time since the inaugural show at the very same venue back in 2013.
While it was not the up-and-down epic that maiden headliner Stephen Reynolds v Declan Trainor was, very few fights are, Fitzpatrick underlined his credentials with a dominant and assured victory.
Scheduled for six, needed less than a third of this to get his career back up and running and settle a grudge which had been bubbling the past few months.
Earmarked as a top prospect from the star, Fitzpatrick saw a bright start to his career descend into inactivity and frustration – both for himself and for fans – with commitment issues being put forward as the main cause.
Recently, though, the fighter who is still only 24 seemed to have turned a corner, training hard first under Sean McCullagh before making a return to the Immaculata Gym where he started his boxing life. This return came during an especially hard period for Fitzpatrick whose beloved father, Gerry, passed away. However, rather than veer off the rails, the bereavement was tackled by an increasingly mature young fighter who double down on his training and came to the fight in the shape of his life.
Cannot wait. pic.twitter.com/dej4Xl8EPC
— BOXING IRELAND (@LoveIrishBoxing) May 24, 2019
While Fitzpatrick looked supreme on the scales, a year-and-a-half out of competitive action certainly left questions going in. Webb, to his credit, consistently declared that he wanted to meet the best version of ‘The Dragon’ and the 23-year-old cut a coolly confident figure throughout the build-up despite only making his debut in December.
Training with the legendary John Breen, ‘The Spider’ didn’t feel like he could trap Fitzpatrick in his web – to use a poor pun – but rather promised that he would out-fight the Commonwealth Games silver medallist in a toe-to-toe war.
However, Fitzpatrick proved more than willing to go to the trenches and promptly blasted his Westie rival out.
There had been plenty of talk in the build-up, with Fitzpatrick’s promises to render Webb a journeyman providing headlines while a spar between the pair last year added intrigue but there was only one winner when the actual action ensued.
It was tense from the off, with the pair almost clashing as Fitzpatrick, who bore his father’s image on both his shorts and fight t-shirt entered the ring. Webb, who was booed in moments previously, shipped a shot to the back of the head in the opening seconds for which Fitzpatrick was issued a stern warning but the house favourite soon got to work with legal straight southpaw shots, blooding the nose of Webb badly and knocking him back repeatedly.
Steely-eyed, Fitzpatrick continued the assault in the second, punishing the body. Webb attempted to fight off the ropes, winging in hooks but Fitzpatrick would not be deterred, forcing him back and sending him through the ropes. Webb would collapse to the canvas as Breen flung the towel in and bedlum ensued in the ring before Fitzpatrick realised his opponent’s plight and retreated to the corner.
Webb would rise soonafter and the pair shared a respectful few words and both now move on to a new chapter.
The win sees Fitzpatrick restart his professional career and improve his flawless record to 9(6)-0. Webb drops to 1(0)-1(1) but is certainly no journeyman.
The centrepiece of Boxing Ireland’s fledgling Ulster stable – Owen O’Neill, Dominic Donegan, Kelvin McDonald, Ciaran McVarnock, and Jamie Douglas all also registered wins tonight – Fitzpatrick has a path laid out for him.
The eight-round BUI Celtic title will certainly be next on the agenda while the fighter who repeatedly insists that he is Ireland’s best lightweight will want the green belt to ensure this. Then there are BBBoC Celtic and British titles beyond this as Fitzpatrick’s path and scope opens up.
But, for tonight, it’s all about the Falls.