Irish boxing’s ‘Cal-Out King’ has called it a day.
Anthony ‘The Pride’ Fitzgerald has hung up his gloves and elected to retire from boxing.
The 30-year-old seemed to lose some of the gusto he was renowned for after he was stopped by Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan on a high-profile card in his hometown back in November of 2014. Indeed after a number of good scraps with opposition he would have been expected to beat more comfortably he lost to journeyman Adam Jones last time out.
However, he relocated to Crumlin BC and reunited with the coach he enjoyed most of his success under, Phil Sutcliffe at the start of this year and was hopeful he could secure a return to big fights before the year was out. He was talked about as a possible future opponent for the winner of Garry Corcoran and Danny Butler’s WBO Intercontinental title clash, but what was deemed as a warm-up or even comeback set for the National Stadium on February 6th fell through and, today, ‘Fitzy’ revealed that, after discussions with his family, he has decided he won’t box on.
Fitzgerald might not go down as an Irish boxing great and may not even have been known to the casual, but he was respected, loved in some quarters and managed to make himself relevant despite the fact he didn’t boast an abundance of natural talent.
Indeed, the fact he was able to remain relevant and a name within Irish circles despite the fact he finished up with an 18-8 record and lost his second two fights – one a stoppage defeat to a journeyman – sums up perfectly the inner city Dub.
Fitzgerald was your archetypal fight anywhere, anytime fighter – in fact, he once agreed to fight the beast that is Gennady Golovkin with less than a month’s notice a number of years ago only for the fight to fall through. He showed guts galore fighting Hassan N’Dam at three week’s notice and put in a career-best performance against fellow Irishman and former World champ Andy Lee in Belfast back in 2009.
The former Dolphil and MGM puncher was always renowned for his guts and bravery, but Phil Sutcliffe would argue he had a skill set and one of the best jabs in Irish boxing. Indeed, Sutcliffe always points to ‘Fitzy’s’ display against Willie Hammond, a win that secured him a World Top 15 ranking, as proof he was more than the slugger fight fans had him down as.
The former Irish super middleweight champion probably could be recalled as a small hall great. It wasn’t quite Gatti versus Ward but Fitzgerald versus Robbie Long is a great Irish trilogy, the first instalment was particularly stand-out and had more leather traded than an S&M shop in Amsterdam.
Possibly unbeknownst to himself, Fitzgerald’s willingness to put pride on the line in all Irish clashes was a massive lifeline to Irish boxing post-Bernard Dunne and pre-Carl Frampton. In an era where massive venues were not being sold out his clashes with the likes of Robbie Long, Eamonn O’Kane, Ciaran Healy and Lee Murtagh provided the added incentive that kept the hardcore Irish fight fan attending shows in more barren years.
Again, it’s hard to know if he was aware of it or if it just came natural, but his abrasive ‘I don’t care what I say or who I insult’ meant he could sell a fight and make any fight more exciting than it initially looked at first glance.
The Dubliner was also a good ticket-seller and brought a lively crowd to all his fights including small hall affairs and – the champagne in Belfast and the stool in Dublin apart -they too were great for the game.
The fighter, his straight-talking approach, his fans, and his love of a domestic dust-up will be missed in Irish boxing.