05 June 2008 – by Padraig Hoare
Wise men say that good things come to those who wait – Jamie Moore, the shaven-skulled southpaw from the mean streets of Salford, Greater Manchester has had to wait longer than most.
In a career full of setbacks and sheer cursed luck, Moore has been robbed of a British title through disqualification against Michael Jones; his hip gave way in the middle of a Commonwealth title fight against Ossie Duran in Belfast, rendering him unable to walk; he once fought two days after the death of a loved one.
Opportunity after opportunity has fallen by the wayside because of Marvin Hagler-syndrome – nobody wanted to get in the ring to be dragged to hell and back by the light-middleweight with the strength of a rampaging bull.
Jamie Moore, known to his peers as the Fighters Fighter, could have been forgiven for turning his back on the sport that has dealt him so many terrible hands.
But Jamie Moore believes in fate. He knew good things were around the corner – he just had to wait a little longer than most. The good times would come.
That time is now.
With a repaired shoulder that has him hitting like Robocop and a guaranteed European title shot in the bag against the crack Russian Zaurbek Baysangurov in September, Moore also fulfils a long-held dream of fighting in front of his family in Ireland on July 5.
Moore challenges for the Irish light-middleweight title against champion Ciaran Healy on Tommy Egan Promotions card of Big-Time Boxing at the National Basketball Arena, Tallaght.
The former British and Commonwealth light-middleweight champion will become the first man to hold all three titles if he wins on his Big-Time Boxing debut. If he fulfils all his life ambitions, he will have held Irish, British, Commonwealth, European and world titles before he hangs up his gloves.
July 5 in the National Basketball Arena is also the first time that Moore headlines on a national terrestrial television station, and he cant wait.
Its funny. Me and Steve (Wood, his manager) have just been discussing the possibility of fighting in Ireland. I had fought in Belfast before, but fighting down south was always an ambition of mine.
My mothers side of the family all live in Tullaroan, Co Kilkenny and they always come to my fights in England. I wanted a fight where I could bring it to them. Then the opportunity came along out of the blue with Tommy Egan asking if I would be interested. I jumped at the chance. It was fate.
Jamies mother Bernadette Cleare hails from the hurling village of Tullaroan, and he is particularly close with his relatives there. His beloved grandmother, Mary Cleare, passed away two days before his defining rubber match with fierce rival Michael Jones.
Instead of letting the occasion get to him, Jamie produced the performance of his life in the 2005 British fight of the year. Climbing off the canvas twice, he stopped Jones in the sixth frenetic round.
I dedicated the fight to my nana in the post-fight interview. I have so much pride in my Irish heritage. I like to think my Irishness has made me the exciting fighter that I am. That is why this Irish title is such a personal thing for me. It means so much to me and my family, the sentimental value of it all. I get over there a few times a year. My son Mikey is three and he has been over twice already. I want to bring the Irish title to Tullaroan the next time I go over.
Owning a Lonsdale belt meant the world to me as the first fighter in 100 years from Salford to do it. Owning the Irish title would mean as much to me and my family. My mum and Colleen (his wife, whose father is from Derry) are coming back from Tenerife to watch me fight in Tallaght and theyll all be up from Kilkenny.
Jamie admits that national television coverage is also a huge incentive. TV3s commitment to Irish boxing could mean a European or even world title shot in the future, he says.
There could very well be big fights in the pipeline, you never know. Hopefully the public in Ireland will take to me. I know they will enjoy my style of fighting. That could some day lead to a title fight in Dublin or even Kilkenny.
First things first, however. He is not looking past his opponent, Ciaran Healy.
Obviously I am overwhelming favourite but I hear he is training like a maniac. I have a lot of respect for Ciaran taking the fight. I have to make sure I am 100 per cent focused. Hes well up for it. Anything can happen in boxing. The European title shot will go up in smoke if I dont win so Ill have to be at my best.
With new-found exposure to an Irish audience, Jamie Moore says he wants to be part of the gilded age for Irish middleweights.
I can move up to middleweight, no problem. James Moore is making waves in New York. If I can establish myself, why not a fight at the Garden between us?
John Duddy and Andy Lee are in and around my division. I would gladly fight any of them. It has the makings of a fantastic era for Irish boxing, like Benn-Collins-Eubank. Christ, there are some mouthwatering fights out there for the Irish public. Hopefully they can take place in Ireland. But the fights between the five of us could end up on the world map, thats how big they could be.
The five of us? The fifth name in the mix is Matthew Macklin. Moore and Macklin fought a contest that was so ferocious in 2006 that it has almost reached mythical status. Moore knocked out Macklin in the tenth round of the most frenzied action any fight fan will ever witness.
What Matt and I went through, others will never experience. We both went to the darkest place and brought out the very best in each other. Would I do it again? Definitely. Me and Matthew were buddies before that fight. We are even closer since. A bond develops after a fight like that. But I have spoken to him about a rematch, and said I would have no qualms about doing it again if the money was right for the two of us. It doesnt even have to be for a title, but if it was, then it should be for the world title. I have said that a fighter only has three performances in his career like that. It was grueling but it enhanced me as a fighter and as a man.
Jamie Moore is known as much for his genuine good-guy persona outside the ring as he is for his ferocity inside it. How are the two personas balanced?
As soon as the fight is over, then thats it. I was really concerned after Matthew was knocked out. He is my friend, and I thought, Shit! What have I done? Thankfully he was alright. But that is what made my fight with Matthew so compelling. We never got into the bravado or the badmouthing. There is no need to slag people off. I liked the old days when there was none of the nonsense, but weve lost a bit of that now.
Now that Jamie Moore is back on track for the big-time, what ambitions are left to be fulfilled before he can retire gracefully with wife Colleen, and children Mikey and Olivia?
I want to known as someone who gave his all to entertain the fans. I want to have secured my financial well-being. I started boxing because of Nigel Benn and Mike Tyson. Both held the WBC belts. I want that green belt before I retire. That would be a dream come true.