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Red Corner claim top British prospect turned down Craig O’Brien fight on big TV show

One of the top prospects in Britain allegedly turned down a title defence against Dublin’s Craig O’Brien [5(0)-0].

Red Corner Promotions have claimed that WBO European champion Joe Pigford [13(12)-0] had a fight with ‘The Iron’ proposed, but the Southampton boxer’s team turned down the match-up.

O’Brien co-headlines the upcoming Red Corner ‘Champions Elect’ card on Saturday October 7th at the National Stadium, but almost found himself off the show in recent weeks as a big opportunity was dangled in front of him.

Initially due to fight former Welsh middleweight champion Lee Churcher, this fight would fall through. A fight with Welsh light middleweight champion Tony Dixon was then on the radar before the Valleys fighter secured a British title eliminator. O’Brien now boxes Breton Alain Alfred [2(1)-4(1)-1] for the BUI Celtic title.

However, during this oppositional merry-go-round, O’Brien’s team state that they accepted a fight with Pigford on the Cyclone Promotions Channel 5 card at the York Hall in London on the same night – only for the Englishman’s team to reject the proposal.

At today’s press conference for ‘Champions Elect’ at the National Stadium, Red Corner boss Jonathan Graham revealed that “we had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about maybe having to take Craig off this card because we were being offered a fight against Joe Pigford on the same night on the Cyclone card.”

Relaying the negotiations, which went between a matchmaking intermediary, Graham explained how “the conversation went back and forward and, what they said on the phone was, ‘who the f*ck is Craig O’Brien? Who is this fella, he’s 5-0, we haven’t heard anything about him, give us 20 minutes and we’ll get back to you.'”

“They went and watched Craig and they came back and said ‘no, we’re not going to have that.'”

“We asked why not, we were thinking it was an issue of money, and we would have taken it for less money because it was going to be a great opportunity for Craig.”

“They were with Assassin Boxing and Micky Helliet, they said ‘we’re not putting Pigford in against Craig O’Brien, we don’t want to take the chance because Craig has the beatings of him.'”

Graham is keen to progress O’Brien and believes he has top level credentials.

Referring back to his Pigford anecdote, Graham reasoned how “that shows you the calibre of Craig, when you have lads like that who are holding titles but don’t want to fight him.”

“As soon as Craig wins this fight, and two or three after it, we’ll be looking at big fights because he’ll beat them, and they know he’ll beat him.”

“Eventually someone’s going to have to fight him.”

Champions Elect also features debutants Craig McCarthy and Karl Kelly, Victor Rabei, Noely Murphy, Allan Phelan, a fight between super middleweights Vladimir Belujsky and Manny Bique, and a BUI Celtic title fights for Chris Blaney.

Tickets cost €40 (gallery) and €60 (ringside) and are available from the boxers involved.

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

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie