Jay Byrne – “People are expecting me to beat him, but I don’t feel pressure”

It won’t pay as much, it won’t draw the same widespread attention, it won’t play out in front of half the amount of people, and it certainly won’t be broadcast live on Sky Sports, – but there are some who will argue that the pressure of fighting a domestic rival will outweigh travelling abroad to take on former Olympians and top prospects.

There is a school of thought that the pride and ‘losing face’ element could crank up pressure to levels Jay Byrne [5(1)-3(1)] hasn’t felt before despite the fact he has fought the likes of Anthony Fowler, Josh Kelly, and Felix Cash on big Matchroom cards.

However, speaking as his Dublin derby with Gerard Whitehouse [7(2)-0] on Celtic Clash 4 this Saturday nears, Byrne claims it’s quite the opposite.

Byrne cuts an ultra relaxed figure and explained he has dealt with pressure previous and certainly isn’t feeling it ahead of his clash with ‘Crank’.

“When you walk out in front of 20,000 people live on Sky Sports and you come back home on a smaller stage you know the pressure then. You arrive over four or five days earlier and have to face the media there is a whole different kind of pressure. When you’re fighting on a massive stage against a named fighter you feel it then,” he explained to Irish-Boxing.com

“This is a job, a business, I don’t feel the pressure. People are expecting me to beat him, but I don’t feel pressure.”

A drop in pressure doesn’t mean a drop in intensity or focus for ‘The Negotiator’ though.

The former Bray Wanderers footballer says he adopts the same World title fight approach for every clash and has been the same ahead of the BUI Celtic title fight.

“I take this fight as serious as any fight before, 100 percent I do. If When I go sparring Declan [Geraghty] makes me treat it like a World title fight. That is the way I am going into this fight and the way I go into every fight.”

“This is no different in that respect. I have been that way through the camp there is no stopping. Declan works me so hard that people comment on it in the gym, but that’s what I want. I don’t do anything by half, but there is no pressure on me.”

“Is this fight at the level of some of my other fights? Possibly not, but do I treat like the others of course. If I am fighting a journey man I would be the same. That is the way Declan demands it and that is the way I think of it.””

Byrne may claim it’s the same as every fight, but from the outside looking in Saturday’s meeting seems different.

The pair have shared verbals over recent times and it’s being billed as an all-important grudge match.

Yet the 31 year old wasn’t keen to bite on any potentially loaded questions and certainly wasn’t explosive in his responses.

He was keen to point out there is no bad blood and claims he will go into the ring with the same intensity and desire to win he has in all of his fights to date.

However, while he was low key and calm in his delivery he did manage to throw a few jabs in the direction of the Tony Davitt-coached puncher.

“People are saying I am too nice about it. It’s like football, it’s a match, you don’t hate everyone on the other team. He has his job to do I have mine. Do I hate him? No. I don’t know him enough to dislike him,” he continued.

“He has said some stupid things, but people are like that. He has said he is leaving the talking to me, but I am just answering your questions and answering honestly. I have given him the height of respect from day one.”

“I don’t need to get anything over on him before the fight. I will get one over on him in the ring. That’s my plan. I will get in and do the business and get out. I think I will do enough and he will tell you the same. It’s sport, it’s not a bare knuckle fight in a forest.”

While Byrne is glancing at, if not singing off, the ‘just another fight’ hymn sheet he has noticed a difference in the reaction to the clash from his fanbase.

The smart ticket-seller is confident he will have a louder and more sizable support base on Saturday and, although he stresses it won’t make a massive difference, he does suggest it proves who the draw is.

“I think he knows who will have the crowd there. Without going into the ins and outs of it I was told this fight had to be made for him. He knows who the draw is, everyone knows it.”

“The amount of tickets I will sell in comparison to him will be obvious. Now that won’t define who wins, but I’ll have a fair big roar and they might help in certain periods of the fight.”

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter. I could fill the Stadium but if I am not able to do what I can in the ring the crowd screaming for me won’t make him fight any less.”

Photo Credit: Lazlo Geczo Photography


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