Sutcliffe defends Rigo decision

2 April 2011 – Jonny Stapleton

Phil Sutcliffe claims potential rewards made Guillermo Rigondeaux a risk Willie Casey had to take. The WBA Interim champion proved a class above the Limerick slugger when the pair met in City West on March 19.

The Cuban diffused Big Bang in less than three minutes and registered the kind of emphatic victory that had some suggesting Casey should never have accepted the fight.

The too much, too soon adage has been regularly employed since, with claims the former European champion would have been best served finishing his continental apprenticeship before being promoted to the world stage.

Indeed some pundits have argued that the man billed as the greatest amateur of all time didnt just knock Casey out in City West, but knocked him back to the bottom of the super-bantamweight ladder. Sutcliffe, however, claims that Caseys ego and body, and not his career, were the only things damaged last month. The Crumlin gym boss believes Casey has the spirit, skill and strength of mind to come back and is already plotting a second European assault for come-forward southpaw.

The former Olympian and Irish amateur standout turned coach also stressed Casey had to take his shot when it came, arguing world title shots can be once in a lifetime opportunities.

You dont get a shot of a world title everyday. You are lucky if it comes around once in your career. A chance to become world champion is rare and worth the risk. Of course I think Willie had to take the chance when it came. We admitted from the off that Rigondeaux was a class act and an exceptional talent. He could go on and clean up this division. We were under no illusions it was a tough test, but we believed Willie had a chance. We trained for 12 hard rounds, but Willie got winded for 70 seconds and showed pain to Rigo. Rigo then went in for the kill, Sutcliffe told before intimating Willie will be back.

Its just a defeat. Most fighters taste defeat at some stage in the careers. It happened to the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali. Willie Casey will be back. We are looking at an eight-rounder in May and we will build from there. He will be back on the European scene soon. Willie was back training four days after the fight he as the spirit and the desire to bounce back and we have already discussed a plan of action.

While Casey suffered the first defeat of his relatively fledgling career, stablemate Anthony Fitzgerald registered the most impressive win of his. The Irish Champion of the Year claimed the EBA strap by beating former Andy Lee foe Affif Belghecham.

However, despite becoming the first puncher to stop the former European title challenger, Fitzgerald has yet to win over some Irish fight fans. The Frenchman was livid after his continental reverse up and argued the stoppage was premature. Some pundits agreed pointing out Belghecham comes on strong in the latter rounds.

But coach Sutcliffe, who believes Fitzgerald can move to EBU level over the next 12 months, stressed if the former French champ wanted to make it to the end rounds he should have put up some form of fight in the opening stanzas. The Crumlin boss also stressed talk of Andy Lee is far from a publicity stunt and that team Fitzgerald would be confident of recording victory over the Limerick middleweight, who looks set for a rematch with Bryan Vera.

I think the referee was right to stop the fight, Sutcliffe said of the Belghecham stoppage.

The referee is there to protect the fighters and Belghecham was wincing on the ropes and he wasnt hitting back. People are saying the shots were hitting the gloves, but some were getting through. Anto had won every round up to that stage anyway. Everything was going to plan for us. We didnt let him settle or get into the fight. If he wanted to come on strong at the end he should have defended himself to make it to the end. We dont think we need to go back to Belghecham. We beat him and put him on the record already. Anto is champ now and if anyone wants to call him out we are all ears.

If Anto puts in the work he can move up another level. People will see the losses on his record and that might put them off a bit, but he has the ability to make it. We called out John Duddy because we thought Anto would beat him and all the Andy Lee talk is not a publicity stunt. We would take that fight tomorrow. Lee might think that is a handy one, but he would be in for a surprise.

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