Willie Casey returned with a ‘Big Bang’ on Saturday, September 17, recording an impressive eighth round stoppage win over Daniel Kodjo Sassou. The Togo-born veteran, now residing in France, has a reputation for hanging in and going the distance with good names. Styles, of course, make fights and after managing what the likes of Scott Quigg, Joe Murray and Patrick Hyland had previously failed to achieve, does the Limerick man feel that he has made a statement?
“Patrick Hyland and I are two different fighters and the way that we both beat Kodjo has nothing to do with what would potentially happen if we fought each other,” Willie stated, shortly after exiting the man stage. “He [Kodjo Sassou] had an excellent opportunity and got himself into great shape for this fight. The message is ‘look out, because the ‘Big Bang’ is learning how to box’ and I was aiming to be more elusive and show more movement tonight. I felt a little bit rusty in the early rounds and maybe a few nerves in there too. He was well prepared but I trained hard for eight rounds.”
Casey did not have it all his own way during the contest and shipped a few meaty ripostes from the stubborn African. But overall, he landed the big shots and dropped Sassou in the seventh round, before upping the ante in the final session and forcing referee Mark Green to intervene.
“I picked it up to another gear and even when I caught him I still didn’t apply a lot of pressure. He landed some hooks to the head and some nice bodyshots. I want a bit more experience and some rounds under my belt – no first round knockouts. Hopefully I can get another eight-rounder in before Christmas, or possibly even two. I don’t want to rush my next move.”
After splitting with Phil Sutcliffe and the DolPhil camp, Casey has linked up with Cork manager Gary Hyde. It seems a natural fit.
“Stopping Kodjo was a lovely surprise after a great performance,” gushed Hyde. “I just knew that Willie would be hugely impressive tonight. He never fails to surprise me and even though he had the fight in the bag he came on and finished him off in true ‘Big Bang’ style, showing that massive desire to win. We’ll sit down and chat about his next move and no doubt Willie will be pestering me about the next fight soon enough.”
Casey is revelling in his new training situation, which sees the former EBU super-bantamweight champion working under the watchful eye of Paul McCullagh and his team, in west Belfast’s Gleann gym. The 29-year-old is glad to be back, feeling happy with his circumstances and looking forward to the future.
“Being in Belfast is great, there’s a good atmosphere in the gym and we’re all getting on well,” Willie enthused. “Shows are getting scarce. I want a similar test or maybe an elusive opponent who can box with me and doesn’t fall over.”