21 March 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Shame and not joy should be the overiding emotion of Irish fight fans after Anthony Fitzgeralds impressive EBA title win in City West last weekend, according to Affif Belghecham.
The tough Frenchman, who had never been stopped in his career until last Saturday night, was so fuming after the referees intervention, that he showed more aggression toward the middleman in a minute tirade than he did over five rounds toward Fitzgerald. Indeed, so livid was the experienced former European middleweight title challenger that he risked a potential suspension from the game by getting physical with the unsuspecting ref.
Considering Belghecham is renowned as a teak tough opponent and has lasted the distance with the likes of Andy Lee and Darren Barker the stoppage did initially seem premature. However, the former French champ should have taken action when pinned back on the ropes if he didnt want the referee to.
I have respect for the Irish fans and the for Irish boxers, but if I was an Irish boxer or fan today I would be ashamed. This is a home decision, Belghecham ranted after the bout.
It is ridiculous and the people of Ireland should be ashamed. I am a fighter who doesnt get stopped. Now Fitzgerald stopped me. You think he is a power puncher? Is he a power fighter? Come on? It is a joke. It is a big big joke. I am very angry. I like the Irish people but my perceptions have changed today. If I was Irish and like boxing I would be ashamed today.
The Frenchmans claims shouldnt detract from a fine Fitzgerald display. The Pride, who received criticism for calling out contender Andy Lee earlier this year, trumped his fellow Irish middleweight and former European champion Darren Baker by taking out the tough Frenchman.
The Dubliner, who was knocked out on the last time he fought on a World title undercard, gave Irish fight fans something to smile about claiming a continental strap on a night were Brian Magee and Willie Casey had failed world title bids.