19 October 2008 – by Cormac Campbell
The worst kept secret in Irish boxing was formally announced on Thursday, October 16.
Darren Sutherland, Irelands Olympic middleweight bronze medallist from the Beijing Games, will turn professional.
December 18 at Dublin City Universitys Helix theatre has already been pencilled in for the first contest in a three year deal with renowned promoter Frank Maloney. That the Dubliner is a student at DCU makes the event, which will be televised by Sky Sports, extra special for the St Saviours clubman.
Its very good news, he exclusively told Irish-boxing.com.
Im very excited. It has been very daunting and tiring since the Olympics. Ive had offers from around the world and a lot of big name promoters but I believe I have made the correct choice.
It was somewhat surprising that Sutherland chose Maloney, who despite having helped guide the likes of Lennox Lewis, Paul Ingle, David Haye and Scott Harrison to the top, is hardly the biggest fish in the sea. In the weeks leading up to Sutherlands announcement it seemed that the reigning national champion was to be unveiled as part of the Frank Warren, Sports Network stable.
Perhaps the number of recent defeats and defections from the Warren camp flavoured Sutherlands decision, but either way the 26 year old said that Maloney gave him everything he wanted.
I had advisors, many of them staff from DCU to help me put together what I required. Among those things were assurances in relation to how they would develop my career, where I would be based, who would train me, the number of fights I would get and TV coverage for them, I also wanted fights in Dublin. Both me and Frank are old school as regards titles and I want to win all the traditional ones on the way up.
As a native of the Republic of Ireland, Sutherland does not qualify to fight for the British title however, unlike many of his countrymen he will not be stifled by the lack of a genuine stepping stone title between Irish level and European glory.
I can fight for the Commonwealth title because I have dual nationality as my father is from St Vincents. But obviously what I want is to bring a World title back to Ireland.
Unlike long-term rival and Olympic victor James DeGale, who has asked for a 2million fee for his signature, it seems money wasnt a defining factor for Sutherland.
To be honest the money was low down the list because I believe I am good enough to reach the very top and because of that the money will come. Im not one to be asking for 1million without having thrown a punch. It was always my dream to be a professional boxer and that had nothing to do with money.
The choice of trainer is one of the most crucial decisions a boxer switching codes can make, and because of this Sutherland has opted to work with a number of coaches before making a more permanent arrangement.
I am going to try a number of trainers and see how I get on. Its not radical changes that are needed just fine-tuning. I have eight weeks to go before my debut fight and for that I will train with my coaches at St Saviours in Dublin for four weeks then for four weeks with Brian Lawrence in London where I will be getting three weeks of pro sparring.
Sutherland, who will continue his Sports Science degree part time at the beginning of his professional career also insists that despite his age, 26, he does not feel pressed to step up in class too early.
How fast we move depends because we are going to take it fight by fight. Whatever happens I will give it 100 per cent. It is the boxing Im here for and Ill not let anything get in the way of it. If nothing else it will be exciting times. I can punch and I can entertain people in Ireland, Britain and America.