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Underdog David Bailey planning Paddy McDonagh Irish title upset

David Bailey [7(1)-0] has his chance.

The Bristol-born Galway light heavyweight, having seen it fall through once before, now has an Irish title fight date confirmed and will challenge champion Paddy McDonagh [11(0)-2(0)] on the inaugural JB Promotions show at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday July 7th.

A fight months in the making, ‘The Bomber’ was in line to challenge McDonagh on the Ireland’s Last Man Standing bill on March 3rd but was forced to pull out after suffering a broken thumb.

The cancellation hurt Bailey, but he is now at the beginnings of camp for a shot at a belt which he describes as his “world title”.

“I am very happy to finally have this fight confirmed,” Bailey told Irish-Boxing.com.

“The Irish title, for me, holds the same prestige as a World title. It is a prestigious and historic belt that I am proud to be contesting for. It really is my dream to face a great champion for this belt.”

“Representing my family and my people is a big motivation. I want to come back and live in Connemara as champion of Ireland. I want to bring pride to my family and everyone in Lettermore. I believe winning the Irish title will do this for me.”

“I’m not in this fight for the money. If I was, it wouldn’t be happening. I’m in it for the prestige and honour.”

“I have backing in England prepared to put the show on but I wanted the authenticity of winning it in Ireland. What Irish man wants to fight for the Irish title in England?”

Slick southpaw McDonagh is a big jump up and a big test for Bailey who has only ever been scheduled to go beyond four rounds once – an eight-rounder which finished in the first.

The 33-year-old acknowledges the enormous task in front of him but views it as a motivator rather than an intimidator.

“It is a big jump up,” he admits. “I believe I belong there, though.”

“I’ve always had a self-belief. I don’t need anyone to believe in me except myself. I get this belief from open sparring and controlled sparring.”

“I want to fight and beat the best when titles are involved – especially this title,” he added before outlining his desire to face the ‘best’ version of Paddy McDonagh.

“Win or lose I want to face the best Paddy McDonagh because, if he beats the best version, of David Bailey then I can happily shake his hand. ”

“Paddy is a southpaw, a good operator, a fighting man. Born and bred to fight, it’s in his blood, a worthy champion – everything I want in a champion I intend to take the belt from.”

“That fact gives the fight more meaning for me. It motivates me.”

Formerly trained by Clare coach Paddy Fitzpatrick in Swindon alongside Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Luke Watkins, Bailey now boxes out of Gloucester under Amin Khan.

The move from, Bailey believes, has served him well and he explained how “I’ve forged a great understanding and trust with him.” He a good man and a great coach.”

“Don’t forget I travel from Bristol to Gloucester to train. I could train in Bristol. But I choose to go to him. It’s well worth the journey.”

“That’s why the best David Bailey will be there on July 7th. Me and my coach are both confident of the outcome. The best version of David Bailey only wins against any version of Paddy McDonagh.”

McDonagh will be a favourite for the title clash and he and manager Kaz Evans seemed to dismiss the challenge posed by Bailey at the show’s press conference earlier this week, almost viewing the mandatory defence as an annoyance and predicting a ten-round whitewash.

“Well I don’t see it going quite like that, of course,” notes Bailey.

“I believe Paddy is a hard man. I have no doubt this will go all the way. I’m preparing for 10 horrible rounds,” he stated before expressing dissatisfaction that he wasn’t there on Thursday evening to have his say.

“I’m slightly bemused,” he continued, “as to why I wasn’t invited to the press conference though. As the deal was all agreed and sanctioned the week before.”

“I would have liked to see Paddy, look him in the eye and wish him well with his preparation and his performance on the night.”

The non-invitation was perhaps an illustration of Bailey’s position as the away fighter or even an attempt at some early mind games.

It’s not a major issue though for the big underdog who feels like everything is slotting into place.

Bailey reasoned how “I know I’m going into the lions’ den, on Paddy’s own manager and promoter’s show. They hold all the aces.”

“But, I’m going in there with a smile on my face, happy and excited. Christmas has come early.

“‘Destiny’ sounds a bit clichéd but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. My decisions up to now have lead me this far.”

“Win or lose on July 7th, the best and a happy David Bailey will show up, ready to fight.


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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