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Paul Hyland Jr wins Fight of the Year contender in Belfast

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Paul Hyland Jr was confronted with a late change on the menu, and a much heavier opponent, but the Belfast lightweight still tasted victory on the MHD Promotions dinner show at the Europa Hotel following a trademark war.

Headliner Hylo was due to face Felix Lora on the ‘Another Level’ card, but visa issues saw the need for a late replacement. Nicaraguan Nelson Altamirano, a much larger opponent, was therefore drafted in on Wednesday morning to save the show.

Therefore the Central American, while weighing more than a stone heavier in the ring, should still be given credit for his part in a typically-exciting fight tonight. However, Hyland was just too much for the late replacement and claimed a points win.

Altamirano began with the jab, trying to use his reach advantage, but was soon drawn into a war by the Belfast fan favourite. Hyland then knocked out the Nicaraguan’s gumshield with a stunning hook and then unleashed an onslaught of vicious shots, repeatedly knocking back his opponent’s head.

Referee Hugh Russell Jr would have been within his rights to stop the contest, but when he called a halt to the action it was to merely reinsert Altamirano’s gumshield.

The rangey Latino, perhaps bolstered by the break, tore back into Hyland, and the toe-to-toe war would continue for the duration of the second stanza.

The action resumed immediately in the third and Hyland scored an early knockdown with a seemingly innocuous counter right. Altamirano fought back, but the Belfast war-lover had gained an upper-hand and began to land at a much greater frequency, eliciting numerous winces from his game opponent

Hyland began the fourth off the jab, but the round soon reverted to a war which the Belfast man just about shaded as Altamirano seemed to become a bit ragged.

The unbeaten Ulsterman began to box at range in the fifth and began to dominate with the jab in a round which saw a pause following a low blow from Hyland. The boxing match continued into the sixth round before Altamirano drew Hyland back into a blood and guts battle for the final minute.

The hostilities resumed in the penultimate round, with Altamirano showing remarkable staying power for a short-notice opponent, but it was Hyland landing the more eye-catching shots in the exchanges, with his lead left hook a particularly potent weapon.

The final round saw Hyland again implement his boxing skills while showing his familiar brawling prowess when needed, and knocking out the gumshield of Alramirano again with a sensational uppercut.

The final scorecard read 80:71 in favour of Hyland and, while too wide, had the right man winning.

Hyland stretches his perfect record to 13(4)-0 with the win,and will hope to be out again soon for a step-up as he targets a domestic title in 2017.

Altamirano falls to 10(6)-8(4)-2 following an admirable display on such short notice and is one boxer who we want to see back on these shores again.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie