Jay Byrne argues the decision to prevent him was ‘wrong’.
The Dublin fighter returned to boxing after a troublesome three-and-a-half-year period away in Waterford earlier this year with an Irish title dream.
He assumed he would be afforded the chance to realise his ambition when he made a successful comeback against Jiri Kroupa in April.
Indeed, he went head-to-head with Craig McCarthy after he had won the BUI Celtic title on the same card to sell a super middleweight Irish title fight.
However, the Boxing Union of Ireland wouldn’t sanction the match-up and instead mandated Kevin Cronin to fight the Waterford man for the strap.
It’s a move Byrne has taken on the chin but one he strongly disagrees with.
“I accepted a fight with Craig McCarthy and I think I’d have won that fight,” Byrne told Irish-boxing.com.
“No disrespect to Kevin, he’s a good guy, Kevin had drawn a fight, lost a fight and was been made mandatory for the Irish title once he got a win.
“The fella he fought [to get that win]… I’ve seen bin men in better shape. I just thought that was wrong because I was refused it after I just beat someone who came to Dublin and drew with a Dubliner.
In fairness to Cronin, he had proved his credentials in back-to-back wars with two-weight BUI Celtic champion Jamie Morrissey and while Santos Medrano, who he beat in his super middleweight debut in Cork, is past his best, he is a journeyman of note who went the distance with noted puncher Padraig McCrory.
Byrne doesn’t argue Cronin isn’t Irish title capable just doesn’t believe he was judged off the same criteria. With that in mind, the BUI may point out his lay-off and the fact he isn’t a natural 168lb fighter factored into their decision.
Countering that argument he adds: “Okay, I’ve been out of the ring for a while but if anyone had any worries about me being ready or able to do the rounds come into the gym and watch me sparring. I was sparring Fearghus Quinn, Paul Ryan, Sean McComb and Tyrone McKenna. I respect the decision I might not agree with it but who am I to question the BUI, they are doing this a long time.”
The fighter who has managerial experience also doesn’t think size would be a factor.
“I think I would have beat [McCarthy]. He is a big strong lad but he wouldn’t have hurt me, I think everyone knows that. I’d have walked through whatever he had to throw at me and I would have been too quick and too sharp on the night. I would have outboxed him and won the fight.”
With the Irish title fight off the table, the Loughlinstown native decided to explore other options. Stringing a couple of wins together in a bid to become Irish title eligible doesn’t align with his retirement plans, so he has taken an away corner fight.
Byrne fights undefeated Wasserman Boxing prospect, Oliver Zaren [8(2)-0] in Newcastle on Saturday, hoping to secure an upset win that will tee him for a big career finish.
“I said I’d never look to take these fights again. It seems pointless at this stage of my career,” he says speaking in more general terms.
” But when the BUI refused the Irish title fight with me and Craig McCarthy and said I needed a couple of fights before I could accept an offer to fight Dominic Donegan for the BUI Celtic title… I haven’t time for that. I’m not coming back to be 37,38, 39 boxing I was coming back to sort my head out, lose the weight, get a comeback fight and I did that. I was hoping I would be sanctioned for the Irish title after that and my career.
“I felt the fact I’ve never missed weight, always been in shape, and been professional would have stood to me. If you look at my last five fights, Craig McCarthy’s last five fights, Kevin Cronin’s last fight, I’ve the better record. I’ve beaten better opponents than all of them. Okay, I’ve had a couple of losses but everyone knows those couple of losses came at a bad time in my life. I thought I would have been sanctioned and I wasn’t but look, that’s their decision and they are entitled to make it, so I just moved on.”