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Opponent Approval – Willo Hayden Receives Special Praise After Debut Win

Willo Hayden [1-0] got the seal of approval that matters most after his debut win just two weeks ago.

The Dublin prospect’s debut display earned him respect and praise across the board but one opinion matter more than most.

The Crumlin graduates opponent Dean Jones [1-30(1)] was very complimentary after the six-round pro bow- and his kind words have resonated with the aggressive entertaining teen.

Hayden is aware, as a fighter with 31 fights to his name, who is a well-traveled operator tasked with testing the latest talent, Jones knows a thing or two about a prospect.

So to be told by the English journeyman, who has fought a hosted unbeaten potential next-generation names, he was the best he faced was a massive compliment.

“I was very happy with my performance,” a delighted Hayden told Irish-boxing.com.

“I got in with a lad with 30 fights who’s never been stopped, only one of his fights got stopped by a doctor over a cut. I was speaking to him afterward and he was saying that I’m the hardest fight he’s ever had, that I carry serious power in both hands and that I’m going to go far,” he adds before stressing he was delighted to do six.

“My last amateur fight was 20 months ago and obviously that was only 3×3 minute rounds yet I was able to go six rounds for my debut not a bother fitness wise.”

Doing six rounds for the first time is always a big milestone for a fighter, a milestone usually achieved after a handful of pro fights and a stint in senior amateur boxing.

19-year-old Hayden not only did it in his debut but his first EVER senior fight.

“That was my first senior fight,” he continues. “First fight without a head guard and first with a fully developed opponent.”

Hayden reflects the narrative around doing six probably hampered him somewhat, suggesting if he was to do it again he wouldn’t have tried to reserve energy.

“The six rounds suit me to the ground. I was a bit concerned over pacing myself and making sure I have energy for the last rounds but if I could go back I would of upped the pace a bit more because fitness was no issue at all. I was still very fresh after six rounds. But that was my first time going past three rounds so don’t regret being a bit cautious.”

The latter is just an educated reflection. Hayden remains content with his performance and how he approached the fight. In fact he loved the entire pro experience from as far back as when camp started to the final bell.

“I absolutely loved every second of it. Loved the whole camp coming up to it, loved the buzz the week coming up to the fight and I just couldn’t get enough of being in the ring fighting again. Most enjoyable fight I’ve probably ever had, I much prefer having the extra few rounds I feel like it gives me much more time to show what I can do.”

The Phil Sutcliffe trained fighter wasn’t the only one happy with how the debut went. It seems a lot of people made sure he knew he impressed, with one man in particular mattering most, promoter Frank Warren.

“Everyone that watched was very impressed. I had so many people coming over to me after the fight saying well done over the performance. A lot of people were surprised over how well I changed over to pro, with being calm and not overly excited. Frank was very happy too which is the main thing!”

Speaking on the differences, of which there were a lot considering he was fighting an adult and in six rounds for the first time, he found in making that change over he commented: “Obviously the pace is a bit slower and the fight is longer but other than that the aim of the game is still the same “hit and and don’t be hit”. The only thing that was a bit different was the opponent being more durable because he was a good tough journeyman. Think a lot of amateurs wouldn’t of been able to last the way he did. Another difference was that there’s no standing 8 counts.”

Considering he is just a teen there is no need to move the Queensbury fast – something right fight right time expert Warren will be an advocate for.

Hayden will understand as much but wants to keep moving and busy even if he isn’t jumping up rungs of the ladder. He just loves to fight.

“I’m hoping to be out again as soon as possible. I want to be very busy over the next couple of years. Just can’t beat the feeling of being in the ring especially with a good crowd from home in the audience.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com