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“We are good pals now” – Michael Sweeney pays tribute to retiring rival Ian Tims

“I thought I nicked them both,”

Michael Sweeney still feels he edged his old foe Ian Tims.

Elements of the rivalry still remain but now with both now officially retired and any chance of a third installment dead ,’The Storm’ was able to pay homage to ‘The Tank’ and his career.

In a quiet and even quite dull period for Irish boxing, particularly outside Belfast, the ongoing Sweeney-Tims rivalry was welcomed by Irish fight fans.

The pair shared two close and entertaining fights four years apart, and were always linked in between and vocal about a desire to inflict damage on each other.

Tims overcame Sweeney to win the Irish cruiserweight title in 2011 with a gruelling 97-95 win and then came back from a heavy knockdown to score a 76-75 win in 2014 to pick up the BUI Celtic title.

The blood between the cruiserweights was certainly bad and almost every time they did come face-to-face, they had to be pulled apart.

However, with two fights and their careers behind them, Sweeney claims the hatchet is well and truly buried and, for the first time, he could admit to respecting the Dublin hardman who announced his retirement last week.

“I’ve seen him since, and we are good pals now,” Sweeney told Irish-Boxing.com before playing down the verbal spats. 

“The talk was really building the fights, and it was banter and fun. I held no badness to Ian, he was a fighting man like myself who ducked nobody, travelled, and boxed anyone that wanted it.”

“There definitely won’t be a third fight now. It’s a pity, but it is what it is. We were two good men, we fought and had two good fights at a time when other fighters avoided each other.”

While he is full of respect to a fighter he battled with over two fights, Sweeney still shows the fighters instinct when discussing both point defeats.

The Mayo man, whose brother Gary Sweeney is now forging a reputation as a cruiserweight to look out for, believes he won both encounters.

“People have their opinions on both fights. There is no doubt they were very good hard fights, but I thought I nicked both. You have to consider they took place in Ian’s home city of Dublin.”

“I am not taking anything away from Ian, but  I had the ref telling me after our second fight that I should have got a draw.”

The defeats still don’t sit right with the Westerner, but he does take some solace in the fact he was involved in a rivalry of note.

“When I think back, I am a bit 50-50 being honest,” he admits. 

“I’m a very proud man, with pride and dignity, the defeat hits a spot at times but that’s life.”

“I have my health and be fair Ian was a great fighter whom I respect a lot. He’s a great guy to be honest and put it this way if other fighters achieved half what we did, I would call them men,” he added before claiming he is content enough in retirement. 

“I’m enjoying life now, but at same time missing boxing. Like most I’m never to far away from it, I’m over 25 years in the sport – it’s a life sentence,” added the former fighter who now trains younger brother Gary.

Tims too looks set to enter into the coaching game, and Sweeney finished by saying “best of luck to Ian on his retirement and I wish him the very best on whatever he wishes to do. God bless.”


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Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years