The 13th Round: Carroll-Geraghty rematch now bigger than ever – needs to happen in 2018


By Jonny Stapleton and Joe O’Neill

It looks like the back and forth may be over.

Dublin rivals Declan Geraghty [15(4)-2(1)] and Jono Carroll [15(2)-0] both got some ‘home truths’ off their chest last Saturday night and expressed willingness to settle their differences in the ring.

There has been tension between the pair since they last fought in the 3Arena back in 2014.

Within seconds of the bad blood clash ending a number of things were inevitable. Carroll’s career path would drastically change, it would win Fight of the Year, and there would one day be a rematch.

As a result in a usually close-knit Irish fight circle, the super featherweights and MTK stablemates kept their distance.

Although still certain to happen, talk of the fight died down in recent years bar the occasional flash-point. It had one for further down the line feel to it. However, with MTK and Frank Warren hosting a massive SSE Odyssey Arena-hosted BT Sport-broadcast bash. there was finally a platform worthy of the clash and it was made for Saturday November 18th just gone.

Initially what promised and promises to be one of the biggest domestic Irish fights in recent history went a bit under the radar. Not having both at the press launch of the event seemed an error, and warm up bouts for both falling through kept the pair somewhat out of mind.

However, that aforementioned tension and near on disdain became apparent when the fight was called off. Geraghty was forced out of the fight with hand injury and the pair took exception to things both said in Irish-Boxing.com interviews.

Social media became a war zone and it was no holds bars between both sets of fans with accusations and insults firing back and forth. The fight may not have gone ahead, but one thing it has gotten is bigger and this is one grudge both may get paid handsomely for settling.

If both fighters’ extended IFL TV interviews were anything to go by, they are keen to get it on and end the talking once and for all – and it looks like the fight could happen sometime next year.

They might not see eye to eye, but both their interviews had a common theme. Both got a few things off their chest and took time to set certain records straight and push particular points, but the core message was they are tired of talking and ready to fight.

In fairness to ‘King Kong’ his performance on Saturday deserves special mention. Carroll increased his reputation, fan base and the general excitement around his career with a real performance of note.

The showman was on it from the first step of his ring walk until he left the arena, shining in the spotlight as he whipped up the Belfast atmosphere and scored a dominant stoppage IBF Inter-Continental title win over Humberto De Santiago.

With two belts draped on each arm and a Top 15 World ranking in the bag he will feel he has other options and will stress he doesn’t need the rematch.

It’s a perfectly fine argument, and one a lot of boxing traditionalists would have. Why should Carroll give Geraghty a rematch? After all, he is the one who has scored two big televised wins in his last two fights.

However for Carroll, the fight remains the highest profile bout out there for him and one which, at this moment, could signal lift-off after laying the foundations in 2017 and before.

It’s understandable, considering the hatred between the pair, that Carroll doesn’t want to ‘give’ Geraghty the rematch considering their respective career trajectories since the first fight, and there are some points in favour of the argument that Geraghty is a ‘step back.’ However, sometimes boxing isn’t all about rankings, and on rare occasions there are fights that have the ability to take over the Irish fight community and even attract attention from the more general sports fan, build profiles – and make stars.

Not to mention – it would be a really, really good fight.

Be honest, would you rather see Carroll-Geraghty 2 as big chief support bout on an Irish card or would you want to see Carroll look to build his IBF rating with a match-up against a relatively unknown ranked fighter such as Aphiwe Mboyiya, Samir Ziani, or Jon Fernandez – or even worse, be brought in by Frank Warren as ‘the opponent’ for the likes of Zelfa Barrett early on on an undercard in England.

That said, while Carroll ‘needs’ Geraghty, he undoubtedly has the stronger record and bigger profile – look at the view counts on their respective IFL videos as an off-hand example – and at this moment is the ‘A-side’ of the bout.

In a way, the roles have reversed since 2014. Back then Geraghty was the former Elite amateur seen as one of the hottest prospects in Irish boxing while Carroll was a relative unknown coming back from Australia and being brought in as an opponent.

Now, the Dunshaughlin fighter would come into the fight having won the first bout, won Prizefighter, was chief support for Fury-Klitschko, scored a big victory over Johnny Quigley, and just last weekend ignited excitement about his career with a stoppage win live on BT Sport.

While Geraghty does have off-TV wins of note over Michael Roberts Jr and Eusebio Osejo, and deserves credit for such, he is now the one looking to play career leapfrog.

For all parties involved – both fighters, their management, the fans, and the media – it is the biggest possible fight out there and needs to happen next year.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

dpg

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