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There Will Be Blood – Morrissey Cronin 2 is why we LOVE Irish boxing

‘Can you smell that?’ asked Irish Intermediate Cruiserweight Champion Kian Hedderman before he let out a ‘Let’s Go, Jamie’ in sync with former BUI Celtic middleweight champ Graham McCormack.

The OLOL prospect wasn’t referring to any foul odour but rather the massive shift in mood that swept across the Europa Hotel when it came to the eagerly anticipated all-Irish fight on ‘The Climb’ card back in February.

As soon as nominal main event fighter Conor Quinn had dealt with Steven Maguire in an impressively quick fashion there was a seismic shift in the atmosphere around the ballroom.

The tension levels rose to a point where they became palpable. You could feel the nerves, touch the excitement, and could smell the anticipation over the aroma of the dinner show’s four-course meal that had dominated the senses previously. But the thing is, while it was a new experience for the young Limerick fighter-turned-supporter for the night, it was nothing new for the veteran fight follower.

It’s a feeling fight fans have experienced before, a taste they licked from their lips previously and a smell that has filled every room before an all-Irish fight.

It’s that unique domestic Irish pre-fight premonition where you become aware you’re on that slow climb to a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

You know what’s coming and while you may grimace and scream throughout you are going to love it.

Like so many Irish fights prior, Jamie Morrissey versus Kevin Cronin was special and both will go down in Irish boxing folklore after going back and forth in a blood-and-guts battle – but there were those at the MHD show who could have told you that as soon as the first note of Morrissey’s interrupted ring walk chimed.

As Craig McCarthy versus Graham McCormack proved two weeks ago when they fought for the same title, an entertaining all-Irish fight is as certain as death and taxes. History proves as much but Irish boxing isn’t always one that likes to learn from history.

While an all-Irish fight comes with an entertainment guarantee, you are never guaranteed to see them made – which is what makes the young career of Muay Thai convert Morrissey and this weekend’s immediate rematch with Cronin all the more special.

The Limerick native has had as much of an impact on the domestic pro scene in five fights as some 10-year fight veterans.

The 27-year-old former Irish Muay Thai champion came to boxing to ‘set the tone’ and his actions have prompted others to sing off a similar hymn sheet, inspiring an increase in the number of fighters taking domestic action or at the very least calling for Irish fights.

The Shaun Kelly-trained fighter wants action and progression rather than learning and is content in the knowledge that approach will ensure his following and the Irish fight faithful are entertained in the process.

Two journeymen in five pro fights is proof that Morrissey is record-building adverse and as keen on ‘learning fights’ as students were about school in the corporal punishment days. Two BUI Celtic title wins and three big wins in the space of time most are just stepping out of four rounders is reward for his bravery.

The Ian Gaughran-managed man, who now also has a profile beyond most fighters at his stage of their career, has ripped up the guidebook to date- and it seems he continues to ignore the rules of the road as he repeats the Irish Fight of the Year contender in Salthill on Friday.

When business overtakes sport, as it more often than not does in boxing, what’s best for the pocket becomes more important than what’s best for the fans.

In terms of rematches, they can become a rare commodity, something you can keep in your back pocket for a rainy day, a fight that can increase in value, both of which make immediate returns rare.

However, in keeping with this unscientific approach to the sweet science, Morrissey promised a rematch within minutes of his hand being raised, agreed to it within days, and will contest it less than three months after the original.

Kerry’s Cronin also deserves quick turnaround credit.

In fact, there may be more at stake for the ‘Kingdom Warrior’ on the Conlan Boxing card this Friday night.

While Morrissey has the safety net of a rubber match if he loses, Cronin would face a mini rebuild post if he suffered back-to-back defeats, making the rematch move a brave one – but brave is what Cronin has been since he entered the pro ranks.

The Kerry fighter has been up front and open about his desire to trade leather and has been linked to a number of Irish rivals over the years. He has also toughed it out when the path was anything but smooth, overcoming cancellation set back after cancellation set back to find himself an Irish title challenger and Fight of the Year contender.

Ultimately, it’s two men who have decided to do things differ and regardless of the result, the pair’s repeat willingness deserves respect. It’s is something to rejoice in and be grateful for as it could have a real positive knock on effect for Irish boxing.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com

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