Carl McDonald [4(0)-2(0)] produced one of the best performances by an Irish fighter in recent times on a night Eddie Hyland came of age as a coach, claims the Tallaght fighter’s manager Stephen Sharpe.
The Eddie Hyland-trained boxer completed a massive early career turnaround, bouncing back from a defeat to Regan Buckley last year to beat the more experienced and the noticeably bigger Colin O’Donovan to claim the BUI featherweight Celtic title.
McDonald outboxed, dropped, and outpointed his Youghal opponent at the Good Counsel GAA Club to claim a memorable victory.
The achievement, improvements made, and the manner of the win didn’t go unnoticed by those in attendance and were further lauded by the fighter’s manager.
Despite pre-fight talk of brilliant sparring performances by the Jobstown little man, Sharpe admits he was nervous for his charge heading into the Celtic Clash 6 clash but is now rejoicing in what he believes is a standout performance in terms of Irish boxing.
“I must admit I had my doubts as Colin, even at super bantamweight, would have had a size advantage and. if I’m honest, seeing the size difference when they both entered the ring had me questioning our decision but it’s a case of in Eddie we trust,” Sharp told Irish-Boxing.com.
“I really believe Carl’s performance on Saturday night was one of the best by an Irish fighter in quite a while. Eddie Hyland showed his coaching ability in having Carl 100% in terms of fitness and tactics.”
“I think his performance would have been quite a supprise to a lot of people but those close to him always knew what Carl was capable of.”
“Yes, Carl hadn’t really performed early doors in his pro career but there had been good reasons, especially against Regan Buckley. I’m not taking away from Regans performance but Carl just wasn’t right, I witnessed Carls last spar before that fight and he wasn’t at the races,” he added before stressing a change in recent months.
“But things started to changed over the last few months and his performance against Jordan Gill showed he had turned a corner, probably the only thing missing in the fight was confidence.”
What makes the performance even more impressive is the late changes McDonald had to deal with in the days before the clash.
Sharpe explains further, noting that “most people are not aware of the issues Carl faced in the final 24 hours before the fight, which makes his performance against Colin even more impressive.”
“On two occasions during this period the fight was off and the decision to fight at Featherweight was made around my kitchen table at 11pm Thursday night.”
“I had just two hours before received a photo of Carl’s scales reading and he was bang on the weight but having been notified that Colin wouldn’t make the weight it was either featherweight or no fight.”
A big part of the decision to take the fight was former Irish champ Hyland. ‘The Cobra’s’ coach was adamant the fighter had made the improvements needed to defeat the Cork warrior regardless of the weight.
The former Irish super featherweight champion’s faith was rewarded and a fighter he trained alongside in Golden Cobra under Paddy Hyland delivered the new team’s first ever pro title.
“I think Saturday was also the coming of age for Eddie Hyland who was in no doubt that, super bantamweight or featherweight, Carl was going to win,” Sharpe continued.
“Eddie had been telling me for weeks that Carl was reaching new levels, his new strength and conditioning coach along with a fully focused mind free of distractions was producing results.”
“When given the ultimatum of featherweight or nothing, Eddie was undeterred in his beliefe that Carl would win and the decision was made to move up a weight,” added the manager before predicting further success for the camp.
“I also think Graham McCormack has played his part in that Carl and Graham have developed a great relationship and train together, they really encourage each other. Things like that make a difference.”
“The Team TNT gym is really developing now, there is a great buzz around the place. So many experienced people involved, the three Hyland brothers, Tommy McCormack, Daniel Hyland, it’s just going to keep growing and developing.”
The title win has raised McDonald’s stock but both he and his team intend for it to be a platform rather than a career highlight.
A big TV fight has been mooted, as has a clash with local rival Dylan McDonagh.
Sharpe noted how “options have already opened up for Carl, we will hopefully have some big news fairly soon. On a domestic level he will move straight back down to super bantamweight.”
“I’m aware a fight between Carl and Dylan McDonagh has been mentioned and I also know Carl would take that fight without a second’s thought. The battle of Jobstown would certainly interest fans and something myself and Leonard [Gunning, Boxing Ireland Promotions partner] have discussed, but we will have to wait and see.”
“Carl has bought himself options by winning on Saturday night. I’ve received three fight offers in the last couple of days so we won’t sweat over any fight, it’s about what’s best for Carl.”
“His performance on Saturday night has rendered his early struggles irrelevant, they do not matter. He has landed his first title with an eye-catching performance and the future looks bright.”
“I’m delighted for him, Carl is as honest and hard working as the come, never moans, and has got the first of his rewards.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)